McLaren: teaming Button with Hamilton will work
The Woking-based Formula 1 team has no fear in pairing the last two world champions together
There may be sceptics in the paddock who doubt whether the teaming up of current Formula 1 drivers' champion Jenson Button with his predecessor Lewis Hamilton is a great idea, but McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is bullish that the team can make the partnership work and has said that managing the pairing is a "very nice problem to have.".
Whitmarsh, the principal for the Woking-based team, told the BBC: "We'll be able to manage the demands and expectations of our drivers. They know what it takes to win and I'm sure they'll both be very motivated to push each other to greater results." The drivers will be considered as equals in the team hierarchy, and will receive exactly the same numbers of staff and resources.
It won't be the first time that McLaren has fielded an all-star team: in the late 1980s Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna won back-to-back world championships for the team, despite having a fiery relationship, and two years ago Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton raced together during the Briton's first season in F1. That experiment ended acrimoniously as the Spaniard was convinced that Hamilton was getting preferential treatment.
Whitmarsh accepted that a line-up of the last two champions - the first time a team has achieved this - could be daunting to try and make work. "It's a proposition that some teams might find troubling, but which we are absolutely relishing," he said. "I think we're very lucky in that, with Jenson and Lewis, we have two fiercely competitive individuals who both fully understand the benefit of teamwork."
The McLaren boss went on: "Jenson did a fantastic job at Brawn GP last year - not just from a technical standpoint, but also from a motivational point of view - as did the whole team, and full credit to them. Similarly, Lewis has done an incredible amount in a very short space of time to earn the trust and respect of everyone in this organisation. They're both phenomenal team players. And my job is to manage that racer's instinct."
Whitmarsh is going to have to wait until the beginning of next year before he can welcome Button after Brawn/Mercedes, the world champion's current team, indicated that they would be holding the 29-year-old to his contract with them. The team were upset at what they saw as Button's disloyalty in seeking a ride with McLaren and at the way the British driver had conducted negotiations so publicly. ·
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