McLaren drivers loved up ahead of competitive season
McLaren
McLaren drivers loved up ahead of competitive season
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jan 2010   |  1:52 pm GMT  |  113 comments

The two McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were quite a double act today at the launch of the new McLaren MP4/25. Hamilton welcomed his new team mate warmly, even suggesting that Button would get priority treatment in the event that the team could only produce one new piece of equipment for a race.

"What you doing Saturday night?"
In contrast to Ferrari and Mercedes, where there are obvious competitive tensions, the McLaren drivers are keen to appear well and truly loved up. It was obvious from the start of the presentation today.

Hamilton spoke of how he had always looked up to Button and had followed his footsteps out of karting and into F1. He mentioned that he used engines prepared by John Button to win a championship. He went out of his way to warmly welcome Button to the team. An in an interview with some of the UK national papers later on in the day, he claimed that it had been him who suggested Button would be a good replacement for Heikki Kovalainen.

Hamilton said that he had put a lot of work into the development of the new car and felt “that it should handle better than last year’s”
“I hope so” quipped Button.

Later on when he spoke about drivers getting priority over equipment Hamilton said he had got the latest equipment one one occasion because “I had number one on the car. If that is the case, which I think is unlikely this year, Jenson is number one so he will surely get it first and I’ll get it next time.”

On another occasion, Button was asked about his position in the team given that he is “paid less” than Hamilton. Hamilton stepped in and asked for the reporter to show some respect, “I don’t think any of you should forget that he is the world champion and you shouldn’t believe everything you read,” he said.

Button is quite capable of looking after himself and he seemed very calm and confident today. He said that having won the championship he is feeling “more confident as a person” and feels he has nothing to prove to himself or to others. “I’m happy with my life,” he said.

This is not Senna vs Prost, the last time McLaren had two world champions in its team. The impression given today is that the two are quite calm in each other’s company and it’s hard to foresee any competitive tensions or political battles between them.

Looking to the season ahead, Button said that “there are a lot of talented people in F1” and suggested that “this could be the most exciting season ever in Formula 1” He added, “I’m the most excited it’ve ever been coming into a season. It’s a massive challenge for me and one i”m really looking forward to.”

Hamilton was asked about finally having the chance to race against Michael Schumacher, “I’ve always said I wanted to race Ayrton, ” he said. “But while growing up and racing I thought I’d have a chance to race Michael. Then he retired. It was such a pleasure to be on the track with him in testing. To see him on the grid with me is going to be a great experience.”

There were many questions about the perils of having two champions in a team, where Mercedes might be set up to get Schumacher to the title. This, it was suggested, could lead to a repeat of 2007 when Alonso and Hamilton were so focussed on beating each other they let Raikkonen through to win the title.

Having recently left the team which is now Mercedes, Button said Mercedes would not be based solely around Schumacher, “I don’t think any driver on the grid would settle for being a number two driver so I don’s see it happening,” he said. “They (Mercedes) will be strong, we were world champions last year so they will be competitive.”

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1

Will be fascinating to see which one of the two gets the upperhand

2

Jason,

I think it will be more interesting finding out who gets underhanded.

3

I recall Lewis trotting out the same lines about how Alonso was his hero and claiming to be putting a word in for Kovi.

Awesome racing driver, but wouldn’t take anything he says with less than a bag of salt.

4

I think the press are doing the typical assine thing in projecting derision amongst the team drivers. They haven’t a clue what’s in Jenson or Lewis’ heads. No clue at all unless they are them or in the team.

What if they genuinely like each other? Let’s face it, Alonso, from what I’ve been told, is a complete wanker in real life. Jenson is not. I think the two have more in common than any other pairing on the grid. If Jenson is faster, then Lewis will try his damnedest to catch up and vice versa. That is just the way it is. If there is truly equal treatment, may the best man win. Unfortunately for both, Schumacher is back.

5

I hope that Lewis in doing his utmost to show the world he both likes his team mate and gets on with him that he looses his killer edge.

It was his killer edge that beat Alonso in his Rookie year and it is this killer instinct that makes him the most exciting driver to watch in today’s F1 8)

6

McLaren are on over kill with this love fest between their two drivers. There is more here than meets the eye. If you read some of Martin Whitmarsh’s recent comments, he made a passing remark about competing against a team where one driver is favored. (paraphrasing) This love in is more than likely an attempt to portray themselves as being the “fairer” team. In the event that Schumi does turn out to be the #1 driver at Merc GP, McLaren will pound this theme hard as a means of undermining Merc’s credibility and even gain an potential advantage. The Schumi effect has already begun and he hasn’t even driven a single lap yet.

7

With the start of testing – finally! – may I just offer you, James, a vote of thanks for keeping the flame alive through the dreary, raceless winter?

A blog is normally just a bit of fun but you have created a monster; and bearing in mind that you are a freelance journalist and write for a living, the fact that you keep to the commitment to write something valuable and informative for us fanatics, practically every day, deserves our appreciation.

8

Thanks for that. I’ve had a blast this winter, it never let up!

9

James, I want to echo Terry’s sentiments. I have got this blog as a favourite on my tool bar and use it as a reference point with all fresh news. You interpret the various situations so well and give a balanced and fair viewpoint.

Thanks for all your efforts.

By the way are you going to be doing the post race press conferences this year? I hope so

10

I also believe that Lewis wanted Jensen in the team, because he wants the British public to know its him and not the car who is better, if he beats him.

He misses being the golden boy in the UK media.

I think its a huge PR stunt by the Hamilton’s! McLaren best start looking for a family therapist to mediate the two camps!

11

I tend to disagree a bit, the same thing happened between Hamilton and Alonso but when the season started with all smiles, oneness and as soon they competed against each other, things turned a bit sour, i can imagine a case as Hamilton said Button might get upgrades, what if that happens more often and Button starts hammering Hamilton, would he still want Button to get more upgrades? I know Button felt rattled when Barrichello had the upper hand from mid season, with Hamilton, i expect fireworks.

Your first enemy in F1 is always your teammate, in some cases I have seen David Coulthard smashing practice and warm up sessions, come qualy, he is down the field, the car during the race now has major problems that were not there and Hakkinen flies off and wins the race. Even when it came under safety car on pits, DC was given last preference and at times made to give way to Hakkinen.

Button would have to be careful as Ron never did hide his feelings that his loyalties was with Hakkinen, Hamilton was spoiled and given toys to play around McLaren HQ since he was a kid, Button might have to work hard for loyalty, he is very much unknown to McLaren.

With Whitmarsh i hope this will be different, but i would never want to be in Whitmarsh’s positions, i can see him taking more panado’s if the conflict ever arises between his 2 drivers.

12

In my opinion,

the more drivers create a ‘friendship’ for the media and talk about it,

the more that topic will be written about if things go pear shaped.

In some ways, Kimi’s approach of aloofness paid dividends in that respect, altho the perception of team spirit is compromised.

Hamilton & Button are busy setting the wheels in motion creating this perception and scripted story, while McLaren foster it. Its like creating a ‘boyband’ by Simon Cowell!

13

They will have their ups and downs. Well i hope so!

Aren’t we lucky to be in the midst of the best F1 racing for years.

I haven’t looked forward to a season so much since Mansel was racing.

There are so many contenders that the bookies must be having a nightmare.

If they can set up the car to Buttons driving style, he will be up with Hamilton for sure. Remember Button was the top young gun until Williams urinated on his fire. From then on he has driven crappy cars until the Brawn.

Whatever happens it’s going to be uber fun to watch. Way better than the MS days when it was processional and boring. (looks up at the sky) Please don’t let it go back to those days.

Grats to James as well for the best forum for F1 bar none. I love reading his and the fans posts. My disappointment is palpable when there is no new post at least once a day.

When is your new service being announced btw?

14

Monday, in time for the start of testing

15

This could be a big test for Whitmarsh.

He’s different to Dennis on man management, that’s for sure. I can’t see him ever saying to the team: We’re fighting Button.

Or Hamilton of course.

Both drivers seem very relaxed at the moment. I think the first half of last season helped LH. He seemed very settled despite the car’s problems and then, when it improved, he lacked nothing in effort and application even though there were no cups at the end.

Button seems overwhelmed with his number 1. His happiness is patently obvious. He even coped with an unknown participant in a minority sport beating him to the BBC’s SPotY without obvious bitterness.

Is it possible that we might get a situation where two highly skilled drivers compete against one-another in the same team without a lot of bickering and in-fighting?

Wouldn’t that be nice. All the action at the circuit and not in publications.

The (non-evidenced) belief I have is that there will be Massa and Alonso not speaking to one-another by the fourth race, Nico being absolutely despondent before then and Hamilton and Button holding hands on the podium.

I know I’m wrong and that the reality is that something will happen in each team to make such a scenario unlikely.

Will either LH or JB have to concede that the other is the better driver? That will be difficult for whomever it is. Mind you, the press won’t find it so and that might make things even more difficult. For both. And Whitmarsh.

This promises to be a great season. And no Mosley nor Doneely. Wow!

16

I agree, reminds me of the 95 mclaren, any tech guys on here to explain what it is for? I presume it is about yaw and channeling air to the rear wing cleanly.

17

I think even Jenson and Lewis are surprised abut how well they get on.

If you think about it, it does make sense: Both Jenson and Lewis have spent quite some time with non-British teammates. In a situation in which both drivers expected things to be a little tense, they may find that is refreshing to deal with an expected rival who at least thinks in a similar fashion, culturally speaking.

Jenson can act like a the media sponge, as he enjoys the spotlight, while Hamilton can “get on with it” since he has already proved himself a champion too.

Both have earned the top spot at one point, so this year is “fresh” for both of them. A level playing field if you will, since both are aiming to win it “again”, not to prove they can win at all.

This may all change after the first race…but for now that’s the way I see it.

18

I do think it is still too early to guage how this pairing will fair as the 2010 season unfolds. Lewis Hamilton can do nothing else than welcome Jenson into the team, I think that personally he is very aware of the comparisons people will draw between this situation and that of three years ago.

Button comes with all the limelight and kudos that winning a championship brings you, Hamilton on the other hand has tasted the shade for the first time in his F1 career. In some ways, his comments about ‘status’ in the team sounded fair but could be taken in another context.

Hamilton knows full well that the onus is on Jenson to defend his title, and with number one status comes high expectations and intense scrutiny.

This is a team with two drivers who have proved their talent to the world, they have both achieved. That maybe McLaren’s trump card on their rivals if the car is fast and reliable enough. Fernando Alonso is a double world champion, but it is over three years since he last tasted glory. Joining Ferrari is obviously a long held ambition for the Spaniard, and with that comes sky high expectations both in the garage and at Maranello. Felipe Massa still has alot of potential, and appears hungry.

At Mercedes Benz you have Schumacher, desperate to show that he has lost none of his legendary speed and spark, against a young Rosberg who has yet to reach a high point.

Both Red Bull drivers a very capable, and major threats in their own right. Yet another day ticked off my calender, roll on Bahrain!

19

I’m not sure how I feel about how Williams are “releasing” footage of their new car. The Autosport pic to coincide with the Ferrari launch and the YouTube footage timed for the McLaren launch. It’s a little bit sneaky to try to divert attention from their rivals, and unless the car is radically different from the one shown (which would be fun), their launch will be a bit of an anticlimax.

20

William’s, a spent force in F1, yesterdays men ❗

21

Where there are yesterdays there may yet be tomorrows. I wouldn’t sell this team short in this era of cost cutting, these guys know how to work with a tight budget.

22

These guys (Williams) are natural-born survivors, they won’t be super competitive, but they’ll produce respectable results…

23

They can only hope as reality says otherwise 🙂

24

Interesting to hear your take on things James.

I personally believe the ‘hype’ about Hamilton v Button, is just journalists trying to create something that isnt there to sell newspapers, it happens all the time in football, sensationalism, and its bit boring, so good to hear you’ve still got your feet on the ground James.

I don’t want to draw too many parallels with Alonso, but, I remember reading in Hamilton’s autobiography (‘My Story’ 2007) that when Alonso joined the team, Hamilton had tried to ‘bond’ with Alonso but Alonso didnt accept the invitations, sounds like Button has…

We could be proved wrong, but at the moment, I think they are both ok.

25

is there any reason why ferrari and Mclaren haven’t released any picture of the real of the car?

26

Yes no shots of the rear of the car and the car was positioned just so. Looks like we will have to wait until testing gets under way.

27

sorry I meant the ‘REAR” of the car…. I haven’t seen any pics of diffusers…

28

I think it was the real car on both occaissions. If you’re suggesting they’ve built a mock-up, what would be the point in that when they have the actual cars ready?

29

Sorry I meant rear not real! ie the rear of the car!

I was just thinking if there are still some doubts and secrecy over the double and triple diffusers then it’s interesting they haven’t shown the back end of cars!

30

James,

Any work on the Ferrari F10B rumours?? Seems like Mclaren have pushed it to the limi in DDD and Ferrari have been conservative!…

31

Ferrari find the rumours amusing.

32

“Later on when he spoke about drivers getting priority over equipment Hamilton said he had got the latest equipment one one occasion because “I had number one on the car”.

When you say one one, you mean eleven? 🙂

33

No he said one and I’m pretty sure it was Hungary – a totally new front wing on Saturday morning

34

I am looking forward to see how Martin Whitmarsh manages his drivers and their fathers this year. Though with Button Sr’s tendancy to stay out of the way at races it may not be that bad.

35

I’m more worried with Hamilton Sr’s tendency to stick his nose wherever he can!

36

This number 1 sticker is going to be with Mclaren for many years to come.

38

They only have it again this year because Button came free with it.

39

The new McLaren looks terrific.. the whole “driver chemistry” story sounds a bit unnatural and too early to believe into.. but whatever happens and whoever wins (hopefully it comes down to a spectacular finish with Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel fighting for WDC).. I am hoping not to see any stupid scandals this year.. McLaren and Renault have had their fair share so far.. hopefully a new scandal does not ruin the season and the fun this year. As for the public discussion on “driver salaries”.. it is none of anybody’s business really. Bring on March 2010!

40

For what it’s worth I thought that Hamilton seemed eager just to get on with the year to come whilst Button was perhaps more enjoying the attention & plaudits.

41

Hamilton makes me laugh so hard with this input thing, that I could almost die.

What is he, engineer? LMAO

42

YEA…come back and read all this one year form now!

43

James

This would be fascinating or embarrassing for several of us if you could provide links/highlights or something, to our comments come the end of the season.

(It would be very amusing if we all had money on our predictions lol)

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