Jenson Button’s move to McLaren could expose him
Sharing the same car as Lewis Hamilton will show up the world champion, say commentators
The decision by Jenson Button to join the McLaren team from Brawn/Mercedes GP may have been a no-brainer for him in the end, citing the rich history of the Woking-based team and bearing in mind the rebranding of his former team after being taken over by the German carmaking giant.
But the general consensus among Formula 1 journalists and commentators is that he is climbing into the lion's den in joining up with Lewis Hamilton, a better driver in the eyes of many who will show world champion Button up as merely being the owner of the best team on the grid last season.
Blogger Andrew Benson on the BBC Sport website puts it succintly: "The issue is not Button's pure pace when everything is to his satisfaction. At times like that, there are few, if any, faster than him. The problem Button will face is that, as one former F1 driver put it on Wednesday: 'He needs a perfect car - that's been obvious throughout his career.' When he is not happy with his car, Button can struggle - and Hamilton provides a sterner challenge than any of his team-mates so far."
Meanwhile in the Guardian, Richard Williams relishes historical significance of the duo coming together and the potential for fireworks that the double world champion partnership - the first between two Brits since Graham Hill joined Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968 - offers. "A more relevant parallel is probably with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost," says Williams.
"In 1988 Senna joined Prost at McLaren, where the Frenchman had already spent four happy seasons, winning two world championships. Their two years together were marked by great success – they won 25 of the 32 races during that period, and one title apiece but also by increasingly intense and eventually bitter personal rivalry." Fittingly enough, writes Williams, a longtime F1 aficianado, "Prost was Button's boyhood idol, while Hamilton painted his helmet yellow in tribute to Senna."
In the same newspaper, Maurice Hamilton - no relation - warns that McLaren's team will never be far from disaster next year. "The most obvious assumption is that Button will be ill-at-ease, at least initially, within a team that Hamilton has rightly made his own during the past three seasons," he writes, also noting that the styles of the drivers' two fathers could have an impact on the environment at the team.
"The two fathers could not be more different. Whereas Button Snr will be happy to stand quietly to one side, puffing a cheroot and enjoying the occasional glass of red, Anthony Hamilton will continue a much more noticeable hands?on roll, between stabbing at his iPhone and counting the dollars," Hamilton notes.
But most commentators agree that the biggest winner of all from the move has been the BBC. In their first season of broadcasting the sport since ITV snatched the rights in 1997 the corporation has had an unalloyed success on its hands, increasing viewing figures by 16 per cent and boosting the profile of the sport massively. With two British drivers at the top of their game pitching themselves at each other, the future is golden for the Beeb. ·
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