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McLaren strives to give Button and Hamilton equality
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McLaren strives to give Button and Hamilton equality
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jan 2010   |  4:41 pm GMT  |  111 comments

McLaren has reshuffled its engineering staff at the race track, giving both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button new race engineers, who have been promoted from junior roles.

Hamilton with Phil Prew (right)

Hamilton with Phil Prue (right)


Hamilton will work with 31 year old Andy Latham, while Button will be engineered by 39 year old Jakob Andreason, who was number two engineer on Hamilton’s car for the last few years.

It is a statement of how careful they are trying to be to appear even handed between the two drivers.

With painful experiences of Fernando Alonso’s year at the team, where allegations were made of preferential treatment towards Hamilton, McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale has promoted Hamilton’s old engineer, Phil Prew, to chief engineer and has taken two equally qualified junior race engineers and promoted them to the main roles for their respective drivers.

Prew will oversee both sides of the garage and ensure that information is shared. This will be interesting to watch as Button has certainly used Rubens Barrichello’s set-ups in the past at Honda and Brawn and we will see whether he and Hamilton go the same way more often than not and who takes the lead.

Both drivers are starting afresh with new engineering teams but the impression Neale is trying to give is that there is no established favouritism going into this partnership.

“When Jenson visited MTC, one of the questions he asked was, ‘Is this Lewis’s team?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, of course it’s Lewis’s team… as it was Heikki Kovalainen’s team, Fernando Alonso’s team, Juan Pablo Montoya’s, and Kimi Raikkonen’s, ” said Neale. “And it will be your team as well.

“Is this Lewis’s team to the exclusion of any other high-performance driver? Absolutely not. At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we love winning drivers – and we want to go about telling the world that story.”

Prue and the other race engineer Mark Slade had been in their roles for 15 years with McLaren. Prior to Hamilton, Prew engineered David Coulthard and Juan Pablo Montoya, while Slade engineered Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen. Slade is still with McLaren and his new role will become clear in the next few weeks.

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111 Comments
  1. Young Slinger says:

    Wow. McLaren HAVE learnt!! Well Done and bring it on!

  2. James says:

    Doesn’t this just harm McLaren’s chances of winning the Title? Losing 2 great engineers to higher roles just to look like equality is taking place. Surely now Jenson and Lewis are now both hampered by having 2 new enigineers. How can they possibly be as good as the 2 experienced ones they have replaced?

    1. Mike T says:

      Thats what i thought. Mark and Phil were the biggest asset in the race team as next season will probably be the most competitive. For Lewis and Jenson learning a new engineers i am not sure.

    2. Pablo Rossi says:

      Exactly what i was thinking. But then this is Mclaren, appearances can be deceptive.

    3. Med says:

      If everyone thought like that though, no-one would ever be promoted…

      I’m sure they’ll be guided etc, don’t forget, the resource restrictions are coming in over the next couple of seasons, so this could be part of a bigger picture where McLaren’s sorting out who goes where longer term

      1. Antoine says:

        You’re right but this is the wrong time to reshuffle the team, :-(

  3. Bearing in mind Jensons close friendship with David Coultard I am sure he ‘marked Jensons card’ before he signe on the dotted line and will no doubt be talking to him ref Phil Prue.

  4. Mac says:

    What is Lewis’ mental preparation/state like at the moment?

    He’s mouthed off rather childishly about Alonso (forgetting the preferential treatment he got at the time and the bulwarking Alonso faced), lost his girlfriend, has now got to face Schumi (something Macca kept him away from), and has now got to contend with a heavy car against a smooth team-mate.

    Think he must be under a lot of pressure. Kovi matched or beat him in quali a lot of the time, but lacked race pace. JB is likely to offer a greater challenge and yet Lewis is being hyped as having JB already whipped.

    If JB gets close to or beats Lewis, Lewis is going to find it hard not to crumble. He’s made a lot of mistakes under pressure (think of his errors in his first year, his error of judgement in Oz, his binning it in Italy on the last lap) and if JB in his calmness starts to make Lewis look ordinary, then he’s likely to overcook things.

    With the change of the team around him as well, and Ron no longer there to protect him, I think Lewis is going to have to work hard to get control of his emotions.

    He has to contend with Alonso in a Ferrari, JB as a team mate, Schumi coming back, Vettel being seen as a great driver . . . will be interesting to see how Lewis copes. I hope he can mature and cope . . . he did make some improvement in 2009, so perhaps he can again in 2010 . . . though his recent Alonso comments seemed like the rantings of a desperate and unconfident man.

    1. Dale says:

      He made a fair and accurate statement re Alonso so where’s the problem :?: :?

    2. Alexx says:

      You have a good point!

    3. Med says:

      Or on the other hand, it could be something that everyone harps on about there being a lack of in F1, i.e. someone that speaks their mind.

      Admittedly, it makes him sound like an arrogant (insert favourite word here), but I’d rather stuff like that and Trulli bringing his photos along to press conferences, than listen to the same old story about how everyone respects each other – it just spices up the rivalry.

      A bit like how the ravings between the fanboys and the haters adds a little something extra

      1. Stephen Kellett JAF1 says:

        A bit like how the ravings between the fanboys and the haters adds a little something extra

        It adds nothing. It is tedious in the extreme. I am interested in informed opinion, as are most people reading this blog.

        James, changed my email address again, your blog seems to be filtering me by email address.

    4. adam says:

      Driving for a top team means constant pressure to perform.
      The fact that Hamilton has scored more points in the last 3 years than any other driver suggests he is handling it OK.

    5. john says:

      I think one of Lewis’ strengths is his mental toughness, he was thrust into the limelight at a young age and had to grow up in the spotlight

      I think he’ll be just fine, he matured a lot last year, especially after ‘Lie-gate’

      I’m looking forward to a great season and battle between 7 drivers for the title, i can’t wait

      Come on JB get that 2nd title under your belt!!!

    6. James says:

      I don’t think the heavier car will bother Hamilton at all. He’s proven to be adaptable. Jenson has no shortage of speed – he’s as fast as anyone – but I think it’s his to throw away. If he couldn’t deal with Barrichello having a good day, I’m curious to see how how deals with Hamilton’s bulletproof demeanour.

  5. Freespeech says:

    I think McLaren need to be very very careful that in treating both drivers equally that they do not unsettle Lewis, messing with his engineers may well be the sort of thing that could get up his nose.
    In my opinion it is Lewis who is the star, the one who could probably walk into any team on the grid including Ferrari whereas Jenson couldn’t even stay at Brawn (I believe he was gently eased out as much as Jenson moving just to accept the challenge) having won the championship!

    1. Paul Douglas says:

      You may believe it, but you are mistaken. Mercedes GP were happy to keep Jens, Jenson decided to move on.

    2. Dale says:

      couldn’t agree with what you sat more, Hamilton’s the star, the one they’d be stupid to loose :)

    3. Couldn’t agree more mate. Lewis is defintely the better one and surely he will get into any team based on the results he achieved so far. In contrast, Jenson won’t get many.

      As far as equal teatment goes, I am not convinced McLaren will be capable of doing that. Mainly because Lewis has been with the team since he was a baby & in his short career he managed to controled the team the way he wants really. So JB has no chance of taking over Lewis’s status (and his brother’s, father’s and god knows which other hamiltons’). There is a very little chance that JB will & if he successful, watch out for the midseason McLaren drama. Haven’t we seen it more than once in the past?

      1. Richard Mee says:

        The MMD!

        I can’t wait…

        Especially as we all know it will be Anthony Hamilton rather than his son who throws the first punch (so to speak, I hope).
        And to sate my appetite for the occasional red-top style gossip piece James; is there any chance you could give me a top-line summary of the history between Anthony and John Button before the season kicks-off… they obviously aren’t best friends, was it something to do with setting-up cart engines? We should make the most of this potential pit garage geriatric powder keg!
        ; )

  6. Penfold says:

    Allegations made by Alonso, it was pretty clear that Alonso spat his dummy out in Hungary and burnt his bridges with the team. If anyone had been favoured up until that point it was Alonso (Monaco 07 demonstrated that). It’s hardly surprising that he found himself out in the cold, after all he was responsible for Mclaren’s huge fine.

    1. Fausta says:

      A bit selective in your recalling of events

  7. Kirsty says:

    I wonder what McLaren think about Jenson’s “challenging Lewis in his environment” media campaign. Got the team some awkward questions about car development and favoritism from the media, don’t they’re impressed.

    1. john says:

      Very clever from Jenson IMO

      McLaren won’t want to be seen to be favouring one over the other, especially after 07

      1. Kirsty says:

        Some of the ‘favouritism’ can’t be seen, can’t be proven, it’s that extra 5% people put in when working for you. If the people at McLaren see his media spin as an attempt stir up a media frenzy and put the team under more scrutiny, it’s not very clever. I don’t think McLaren have appetite for some intra-team huge drama after Alonso.

  8. Captain Awesome says:

    Sounds interesting, however I’m guessing brand new parts can only be done on one car at a time, so somebody still has to make a decision as to which driver gets the part…

    1. Mike T says:

      Exactly my thoughts. We saw that this season -Lewis always had the new parts first to use.

      1. Anthony says:

        He made better use of them than Kovalainen. ;)

    2. krampa says:

      My guess is that whoever is ahead in points should be first in line to receive new parts.

    3. Carl Craven says:

      New parts don’t always improve performance, as Brawn found out last season.

  9. Mike T says:

    James,

    don’t you think the “Jenson used Rubens set-up” quote is a bit over used? Jenson stated he only used it a few times AND then its not even a complete copy as their driving style is so different, so there was only a few things available what would work. IF anything i think Buttons experience will shine as he has had a lot more problems to solve in car set-up then hamilton has, simply becuase of the cars jensons had compared to lewis

    1. Med says:

      Depends on how many a “few” is; I usually use it in the context of 5 or more, which would make it over a quarter of the races last season.

      1. Martin P says:

        Eh? A few is three or more, a couple is two. What do you use if you do something three or four times?!

    2. Carl Craven says:

      I think tried but didn’t always use is probably a little more accurate.

  10. Alexx says:

    This sounds like typical McLaren propaganda!

    Hi Jimbo,
    In your opinion, which F1 teams have the best PR & media approach/strategies, and who often turns out to be the most truthful in the end from the ‘original’ spec till the final truth?

    My vote is for Williams or Red Bull being upfront in this area!

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question. I think McLaren are misunderstood because of things which happened in the past. There is quite a change there now in terms of openness. All teams have different ways of doing things. I found that the manufacturers tried to control things in a very corporate way which doesn’t suit my interpretation of what racing is about. I’m hoping that the new look F1 will be a change for the better in that respect

      1. Definitely the past doesn’t say anything good about McLaren’s driver’s management or equality. However, I guess sometimes you have to choose a driver who carries the team to success rather than depending on the team mate or the team too much. Lewis Hamilton was being a little bit cocky from what I read in PlanetF1. I quote him saying, ‘I blew Alonso away’. There is no doubt he is a very talented driver. However, in his 1st season he used a lot of Alonso’s set ups & was little bit preferred by the team as well.

        As far as next season goes, Lewis has got a few years of experience, WDC & of course good chunks of results behind him. I really doubt that JB will be able to match Lewis even though he too has achieved some impressive results. They drive very differently anyway. The way Lewis cuts the chicane or his first corner move lot more aggressive than JB’s. I believe teams can’t make two different cars for two completely different styles of drivers. Aerodynamically it will be difficult to develop the car as the season progresses.

        McLaren has turned into ‘Team Hamilton’ for last few years. Really sick and tired of seeing Hamilton Family in the McLaren garage all the time. Camera man seems to love it though. So, if people think JB made a mistake by moving to McLaren, the same people will be thinking McLaren made the bigger mistake by recruiting him if they can’t manage their drivers properly. Let’s see what happens once the season’s under way. But I must say, I always liked the idea of drivers work hard to earn the results they hope to earn in their career. JB is certainly one of them. No matter how fast Lewis is to me he is always one of lucky ones. Would be great to see him drive for a different team one day.

      2. Anthony says:

        JB’s father is always at brawn garage. So does Massa’s family, alguersuari, etc…

        whats the problem with hamilton’s?

      3. Kirsty says:

        They all work hard, I think you mean you liked the idea of drivers struggling in midfield teams for a few years before they got a top car. IMO, if you’re fast, you’re fast from the start. Schumacher is a good example. And many teams think snapping up young talents as good investment, younger, faster, cheaper.

        I don’t think Hamilton’s debute at McLaren is any more “unearned” or ‘lucky” than Raikkenon getting his McLaren drive in his 2nd year. People say Raikkenon showed potential in his debute, but that’s it, just potential, Hamilton also already looked very promising in GP2, but neither of them was proven. and Raikkenon lost to DC in his first year at Mclaren, Hamilton, in comparison, was more ready for a top drive than Raikkenon was.

    2. Williams4Ever says:

      As Williams Follower for Life, I can tell Williams during Williams-BMW was pretty much a corporate house, when it came to PR. I still remember Frank Williams & Ron Dennis leaving Paul Stoddart to fight lonely battle against the FOM and constructors instead of backing Paul in interest of Privateers.

      2006 onwards Frank Williams started his forthright ways, when he was gracious enough to accept that it was Williams and not cosworth that had to blame for the reliability woes in 2006 season. Similarly he was man enough to accept that it was not the drivers but Williams failing to give them a good car to compete for points.

      Compare that with Ron Dennis, at end of 2005 season blamed his drivers for not qualifying better in first three away races which lost them championship. The fact was Both Kimi and JPM struggled in first three races as McLaren Car was not working well to generate enough heat in Michelin tyres and hence Drivers not doing well in qualifying for first 2-3 races. Ron was mum about Mercedes engines failing JPM and Kimi when they were in race winning positions and also about engine penalties which forced the drivers to start races from back of the grid, many races.

      That for you is the difference between McLaren PR and Williams PR. Of course Ron also had partners at Mercedes to keep happy, that he did by passing the buck on his drivers.

  11. P Byrne says:

    I think a mixture of paternalism, patriotism, excitement and lack of expectation (and therefore pressure) aided Hamilton hugely in 07. McLaren handled it very badly and Alonso let it effect his performance I reckon. I think maybe they’ve learned their lesson.

    1. Glen says:

      Maybe they should have learnt lessons from the old Prost vs Senna days.

      I prefer drivers fighting each other and I like how Mclaren in 2007 allowed Hamilton and Alonso just do that. Unlike the years of domination by Ferrari. So I hope McLaren haven’t learnt thier lesson.

  12. Pat says:

    Hi James

    Slightly off topic I know but do have have any idea where Jörg Zander has disappeared to or where he may surface at ?

  13. RON says:

    It should not be the team that has to bend over backwards to make a driver feel comfortable… it should be the highly paid driver that bends over backwards to prove he deserves priorty treatment…

    At this point in time, Button holds a fake WDC, based on a dodgy FIA technical advantage…

    In my eyes, he has yet to prove he even deserves a seat in a top car…

    1. Cliff says:

      Button holds a [mod] WDC, based on a dodgy FIA technical advantage…

      You appear to forget that Ross Brawn tried to get the rules surrounding downforce changed during a meeting of the OWG, or atleast clarified. McLaren, Williams and Renault confirm that the conversations took place, so on this occasion it was not the fault of the FIA, but the attitude of the other teams. I suspect that was based on Honda’sm position in 2008.

    2. Alexx says:

      Easy there!

      He is a F1 World Champion!

    3. Robert says:

      … i agree entirely.

    4. Kevin@junctiongarbage.com says:

      If every champion that had a technical advantage has a “fake WDC”, then how many drivers have a real one? Like 12?

    5. timem1 says:

      Ron, seriously dumb comment. What did Hamilton do to deserve his seat in a top car? He waltzed into it without ever having to pay dues. Button won his WDC in far more convincing fashion than LH did. Reality is a bitter pill this season for the Hamilton kool-aid brigade, ya? :)

    6. Raz says:

      Hamilton didn’t exactly convincingly win his WDC.. rather stumbled into it.

  14. Stu says:

    Maybe this is the real reason behind Hamiltons split with the pussy cat doll. Equality for the drivers would also mean equality for the WAGS.

    In all seriousness, it’s still Hamiltons team and if Button wants that changed he needs to prove himself on the track against Lewis.

  15. zxzxz says:

    suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure they will.. riiiiiight.

    1. sw says:

      when hamilton blows button away, guys like u will say its cos mclaren favored hamilton…while hamilton is just the better driver.

      see alonso debacle…same thing, hamilton beat him in his ROOKIE year.

  16. three4three says:

    Fascinating stuff, and it’ll be interesting to see how things develop at McLaren over the coming weeks but I imagine a lot of this is just for appearances.

    @ RON, not that load of nonsense again! Sure, Jenson’s was an unconvincing Championship bid in the latter half of the season but he was miles ahead on points and thus is deservedly the WDC. Calling it a “fake WDC” way over the top and just bonkers. I do however agree that for Button the real test is up ahead this coming season.

    James, is it possible to correct the typos regarding Phil Prue – you’ve called him ‘Prue’ and ‘Prew’ the former under the pic. Great article otherwise!

  17. Dale says:

    Doesn’t matter what Button gets McLaren to do for him he’s still going to be beaten by Hamilton as he’s simply at a different level. up by either
    Button good yes then so too is Webber :!:

    McLaren need to ensure whatever they do do for Button that it in no way disadvantages Hamilton otherwise he’ll be snapped up by Mercedes or Ferrari or who knows, with a winning car RedBull :)

    1. timem1 says:

      Dale, it’s true. Hamilton is a a different level than Button. Button is at level #1 (WDC Champ) and Hamilton is a level or so below that(yesterday’s news). lol

  18. The Limit says:

    @Ron.

    I think that is a big reason why Jenson wanted to go to McLaren, to face Hamilton in equal machines and to prove the doubters wrong.
    It’s a bit strange to think that Button can have ‘doubters’ after last year’s performance, but Hamilton is widely excepted as one of the best drivers in the sport.
    Its a brave decision to make, but I think Jenson became tired of all the Hamilton hype in the media these last three years, and wants to show people what he is made of.
    Let’s be honest, everybody went nuts in 2007 because Lewis was getting results against a driver who had won two world titles. If Hamilton had been paired with Grosjean or some other rookie, nobody would have batted an eyelid.
    Jenson wants that opportunity that Lewis had in 2007, to go toe to toe with one of the best and show his talent.

    1. Anthony says:

      you clearly dont understand the sport.

    2. Marcello says:

      what performance are you talking about? there is a difference between bravery, and stupidity, i really hope Jenson is not the later. In any case Let me say this again, Hamilton will beat Button next year, and there is nothing you lot are going to do about it.

      Lewis Hamilton is racing Michael Schumacher next year not Button.

      1. The Limit says:

        That could well be the case, but atleast Jenson Button has the balls to go the McLaren to find out! As for the ‘performance’ comment, you obviously did not watch the Brazilian Gp last year inwhich Jenson achieved what he had to under pressure. At the beginning of the year, despite having the best car, he still had to win those races didn’t he? Look at Rubens Barrichello, as good as he is, did he win six of the first seven races in 2009? Afterall, he drove the Brawn too.
        It makes me lmao when I read comments like these, that aslong as your car is the fastest, F1 is a breeze. Its so easy, even a caveman can do it huh!
        Lets give this guy respect, he is world champion for Christ’s sake, and it was hardly gifted to him, he had to fight for it.

  19. ashley edwards says:

    James where you have put “When Jenson visited MTC, one of the questions he asked was, ‘Is this Lewis’s team” “And it will be your team as well” does that mean he had signed a contract allready for them?

  20. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    Who wants to organise the sweepstake on how long till Button Snr and Hamilton Snr come to blows?

    1. Brace says:

      I really think this might happen :)

  21. Scott says:

    I kind of feel like McLaren are cutting their nose off to spite their face here by nobbling both their drivers to make sure they both equally have to start from a position of weakness, rather than using the advantage of continuity with who is – lets be honest here – their principle driver and long term future

    1. Richard Mee says:

      I’m sure Hamilton will have been fully consulted and feels rightly confident that he’ll be competitive against Button regardless of engineer. I know i’m being woefully naive but isn’t the Engineer’s principle role to communicate when the computer says a driver should push harder or pit and answer Driver questions about placement and track distances between cars etc…. and besides, it seems like one of the existing engineers has left the company so there may be more to it than purely wanting to start from an equal footing.

  22. Alan. Zechter says:

    With the different cars for next season and his driving style, do you think that Button might actually be at an advantage to Hamilton?

    Most seem to think that Hamilton will destroy Button, but with his agressive style will Hamilton have to adapt in order to be quick with the new cars, or are the changes in regulations subtle enough for this not to be a factor?

    1. Kent Paul says:

      1. The tyre compounds will be harder

      2. Hamilton can adapt

      3. He proved in 2009 that he can manage tyres better [Hungary/Turkey/Singapore/Brazil]

      XXX

    2. Vic says:

      My opinion – i think Hamilton will have the edge in qualifying and Button will have the edge in the race. People are talking about Hamilton as if he is of the same calibre of Senna/Schumacher, i don’t think he has done enough to prove that, i just think he is an aggressive and very fast driver.

      1. Marcello says:

        what does the young boy needs to do to prove he is one of the very best out there right now? oh wait he needs to beat Michael Schumacher I presume? Well take it from me he will.

    3. Jase says:

      I agree with Kent Paul.

      Far too many assumptions are being made about the respective driving styles of Jenson and Lewis in this area.

      I’ve even read James Allen, offering up a similar point of view and I’d say that more often than not, James is pretty ‘bang on’ with what he says!

      A couple of things to note:

      1. Tyre compounds may well change to adapt to these new circumstances and therefore, have a longer race duration.

      2. People are assuming that Lewis Hamilton cannot moderate his driving style to suit. I believe that he, and other drivers, can.

      The truth is, nobody will really know until the first race.

  23. Fausto Cunha says:

    Maybe Mclaren was thinking about this kind move for sometime and realized that it was a good oportunity to make the change.

  24. Kevin Murray says:

    Is it Prue or Prew?!

    Sounds like a good piece of PR from McLaren here. There seems to be a perception that Jenson will be rubbish up against Lewis. Both drivers have outperformed their cars on occasions. Both have become world champions when the car is in the right zone. Is it perhaps a bias towards more aggressive driving styles as opposed to the smoother style of Button? I’m tipping more of an even contest in this one.

    In a totally unrelated issue James, has there been any further development by Williams with their KERS system? I remember articles surfacing a while ago where they suggested it might be used in 2010 despite an agreement not to.

  25. PaulL says:

    If Jenson and Lewis get on better than Lewis-Fernando this is why I think it will be…

    Because Jenson is more content with losing than people like Alonso, Schumacher, and Senna. 2008, where Rubens outperformed Button, to me may have been proof of that.

  26. BA says:

    I still feel there are too many “If”s on JB’s side to make a good point.

    “If the car setup…”, “If the tyre…”, “If next year rule…”, you name it…

    Put these things aside, he’s a WDC after all…

  27. Raz says:

    The word Equality and Mclaren can’t be said in the same sentance. Hehehehe – also Integrity HHAHAHAHAHA

  28. Andrew Hill says:

    McLaren have one of the strongest driver line ups. Along with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.
    I wonder how Alonso feels now he has joined team Felipe?
    I suggest that the combination of Lewis and Jenson will help develop the team more rapidly throughout the year than, for example, teams with a more dominant number 1 driver.
    Surely the McLaren engineers will ensure that all information is shared with the goal to maximise both cars performance. Then the rest of us can sit back and watch 2 top drivers in equal equipment go head to head. Can’t wait.

  29. Irish conor says:

    Next years cars will require a driver to be adaptablt. Something jenson button couldn’t spell never mind do. So although I can’t stand Hamilton I reckon he will wipe the floor with button as he is too one dimensional

    1. S-D says:

      Nice irony.

    2. Mark Crooks says:

      seems to be something you can’t spell either :-)

  30. alex m says:

    I think it is a silly move. In trying to demonstrate just how equal the playing field will be, they have just fed the Trolls who still cannot get their heads around Lewis beating their little Alonso fair and square.

  31. Richard Mee says:

    The most talented engineer in the pit lane will not make a crap car or a crap driver go any quicker so what’s the issue here? Psycholoically yes, if you like and trust the chap then I can understand how you’ll enjoy the race more and want to share your success with the guy on the other end of the radio but apart from that they essentially communicate what’s being shown on the screen in front of them.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think if you look at what Rob Smedley has done for Felipe Massa one would argue that engineers are very important.

      1. PaulL says:

        Agree.

  32. MBR says:

    There will most likely be many mentions of the Hamilton-Alonso thing throughout the season. I think Jenson will handle it alot better than Alonso did. Personally I think Alonso was rattled and suprised at how well Hamilton performed during his first year. Hypothetically, would it be different if Alonso had come to McLaren for 2010 now Hamilton is known?

    I can’t wait for 2010. I’m a big fan of Lewis’ driving style and love watching him race. I like the fact he’s a bit arrogant – it adds some spice into the sport – look at someone like Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, coming in and declaring that he is ‘The Special One’. A similar confidence oozes from Hamilton and I like that.

    I do hope it is equal this year between Jenson and Lewis – both top drivers, to see them go head to head in the same car is a fascinating prospect.

    I’m quite new to this blog James, been reading since just before Christmas and its now become my first port of call for any F1 news. Fantastic read, well done.

      1. danish Hanif says:

        jose!!! 6 titles in 3 years Lewis!!!! just 1
        jose built the team, lewis just drove the car using ALO setup, no doubt be is good, thanks to Mclearn for providing great car in 2008 and sp thanks to ferrari engine blows up in 3rd last lap. massa lost 10 points, do you remember how he won 2008, after overtaking struggling glock in the last corner.

      2. MBR says:

        I was comparing character rather than actual acheivements.

        Fair enough, he overtook Glock on the last corner in Brazil, but you might then say similar things about how, Brazil excluded, Jenson rather struggled to seal up his title as well.

        Both drivers are capable of terrific overtakes. Jenson in Brazil last year was a joy to watch.

  33. Mike says:

    I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of this reshuffle to start with, thinking it may disadvantage Lewis, but have changed my mind, particularly as the team has to reduce the number of engineers they have at the race.
    Phil Prew will oversee everything, Lewis already knows the team well along with the car. His methods of communication will be well known to his new engineer, so the transition should be fairly seamless. Jenson gets the benefit of a highly experienced engineer while he adjusts to the ways in which to work with a new team.
    This all bodes well for the team being able to get the best out of both drivers and the drivers having clear access to the right engineering expertise.
    Great blog James – keep up the good work.

  34. Gareth says:

    Actually a very good point there.

  35. Gareth says:

    Agreed. Reason why I bought two of your books on the weekend, James.

  36. Shane says:

    I’m getting sick of all this Button battering. No-one dismissed any of schumi’s titles by him driving a superior car. No one says the same for our nige. Yet here is a driver that made his own mark for Williams on his debut. Yes he’s been through some crap cars since. And has always just got on with it.

    He WILL be quick next yr. Whether he’ll beat lewis is the same arguement as will alonso better massa, will webber outclass vettel. No one knows the answers yet. That’s the point. He’s there for a reason. His smooth style may well just better others.

    I suppose the fact that he Beat some of these names in past race of champions also means he’s a fake??

    I like lewis, why wouldn’t I, but it’s not as clean cut as all you lewis lovers make out.

    It wouldn’t suprise me to see both drivers fairly equal points wise by the end of 2010

    1. RON says:

      The FIA have lost all crediblity, and all that it hosts has to be taken with a pinch of salt…

      We had a team that was on the verge of leaving F1 – and suddently they end up with a diffuser that gave them a 1 sec a lap advantage for half a season… that’s not clever engineering – that’s pure politics..

      Button will always be a fake WDC – in 2010, he will be thrashed – only problem for me is, that we have a driver that doesn’t deserve a top seat – it’s a waste of money and time…

      1. Mark Crooks says:

        RON

        Stick your head in the sand and keep believing that if you want mate but you have obviously overly simplified or ignored certain facts to justify your opinion.

      2. RON says:

        I will certainly stick to what I witnessed… just be prepared for a rude awakening when Button confirms just how poor he is as a F1 driver…

        Dirty politics have ruled F1 for a number of years now… and that’s why 97% of the people surveyed, wanted a breakaway series…

        Manufacturers are demanding change in F1 before they will get involved again… these demans are all perfectly valid… the FIA are an utter failure as an organization, and they have a long way to go before I recognize any of the trophies they regulate…

        Like Kimi said, his F1 WDC title is worthless… and I have to agree with him…

  37. Matt W says:

    I always thought Mclaren treated both drivers equally and that Hakkinen and Hamilton only best their team mates on merit. I always thought Alonso’s main issue was that he thought he would be number 1 on account of taking the title to Mclaren, and it went sour when Mclaren gave Hamilton and equal shot.

  38. Robert says:

    Slightly off topic.

    Do you guys think F1 fans in general support drivers or teams? Is it nationality or personal preference?

    F1 is odd in that the team dynamic exists whilst there also a large element of individualism.

    Personal I have always like Maclaren and hae never been too worried who drove for them.

    1. Charlie B says:

      Well, this all depends on the person. I am a Kimi fan but first I supported Mika and McLaren. When Mika left I naturally supported the guy who took his place, the fact that Kimi and Mika are similar helped make the decision. When Kimi left I had another decision to make, and I followed Kimi to Ferarri, even though I had disliked them for years. I still dislike Ferarri after ending Kimi’s contract and giving him a bad car last year. next year I will most likely support Vettel. This is mainly because Vettel is similar to Kimi in some ways and they are good friends, so Kimi would want Vettel to win.

      This seems rather odd as I am English but I think the reason I supported the drivers I have is because of their personallity.

      Drivers personallity is also a reason I dislike some drivers. Opinions can change but for me they have never changed from one extreme to the other.

  39. Charlie B says:

    No doubt Lewis will “Blow Button away”…and by “Blow Button Away” I mean finish level on points!

    I do think it will be close but Lewis isn’t going to have to do something special to beat Button.

  40. Enrico Fiore says:

    I would like to ask James if he thinks Whitmarsh is sufficiently in charge of this team? I sense a tension, a split even, between him and Dennis.
    Maybe schizophrenia is too strong a term, but has it spread to the new chief. He is Prew to some and Prue to others.

    1. James Allen says:

      Martin is in charge, but things have changed quite a bit there. I think it will be interesting to see what happens with Dennis and Whitmarsh this season. But Ron’s recent interview suggests he’s done with F1 and doesn’t want a comeback

  41. Hephaestus says:

    If lewis had been paired with grosjean, he would have been world champion in his rookie year. Which wouid have brought even more excitement. I think no body at this stage can predict the outcome of the season or who will come on top between button and hamilton. But what can’t be overlooked is that it takes a tremedous talent to even match a two time world champion in his rookie year. You may not like the man but one has to admit that he is a driver of exceptional talent.

  42. Gilraen says:

    As a long term McLaren supporter (>25 years), I am not at all sure they “have learned”. This restructuring actually worries me more than it is a relieve or positive. Let’s see how Martin Whitmarsh will deal with having two drivers capable of winning races and championships.
    Although I do trust McLaren’s intention of offering their drivers “equal opportunities”, the question remains whether they managed to do just that (Häkkinen vs DC; Kimi vs JPM; Hamilton vs Alonso, just to name a few). Last year imo proved that Heikki was not at all in an equal position to attack the races. Just look at his race strategies. So I am a bit sceptic (again).

  43. Andy says:

    Absolutely agree cliff. Rb specifically flagged it at a tech meeting.

    Saying jensons wdc is fake because his team had a tech advantage.

    So how many wdcs have been crowned without having a good ?

  44. Alex says:

    Talking about equality James – do you have any word on whether Mercedes have been asked to ‘turn down’ their engines for this year?

    This was mooted by the FIA but was anything ever agreed?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question, Will follow up

  45. Irish conor says:

    Add to the fact that he clipped the wall at tabac in Monaco and put him on perfect stragety when safety car came out shortly after that, safety car again in canada when massa’s refueling system failed and he had to pit twice in two laps for fuel and also in german gp when safety car came out and piquet got ahead through luck and massa’s brakes were cooked and coulnt fight back. Pretty lucky he was if u ask me.

  46. Marcello says:

    I can’t careless about who is going to be Jenson Button, or Lewis Hamilton engineer next year, no offense James, great blog by the way. What I’m trying to say is that no matter what Jenson will be tronced next year period. Lewis Hamilton is still on his journey, while Jenson has almost reached his destination.

    Lewis Hamilton will be racing Schumacher next year, not Jenson Button.

    1. RON says:

      Jenson’s one only motive of going to McLaren was to ensure he was not chucked out of F1 sooner rather then later…

      His move to McLaren has simply prolonged our agony of having to watch an utterly dull driver getting in the way of the other racers and spoiling their races…

  47. Paige says:

    I’m not sure about this move by McLaren. Both Prew and Slade are top notch race engineers. They could well lose something by not having them in their current capacities.

    If assignment of race engineers is an indication of bias, then how could McLaren be called biased in favor of Hamilton if Button had gotten Slade, the guy who worked with Hakkinen in winning two world championships and who had great success with Raikkonen?

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