Hamilton and Button off to a smiling start but the test is yet to come

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

All smiles for Hamilton and Button at the McLaren launch
All smiles for Hamilton and Button at the McLaren launch

If yesterday’s Ferrari launch left us all worried that all the 2010 F1 cars were going to look like fat RB5s, the revealing of the McLaren MP4-25 put that thought from our minds.

But just as interesting as the car was our first glimpse of how Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button get on as team mates.

McLaren tend to pick explosive driver pairings – or, in the words or Martin Whitmarsh, they “have a philosophy of getting the best drivers we can.” There’s no arguing that McLaren have usually got the best drivers available to them, but whether that’s been a beneficial or destructive philosophy is up for debate.

Paiting any two F1 drivers together involves a clash of egos, whether it’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa or Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

But put two champions together and you magnify the potential for problems – which is probably why no-one’s tried it since 1989 Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost raced together at the same team.

Today McLaren’s latest power pairing were all smiles. Facing the press Button batted away questions about whether he earns less than his team mate. Then Hamilton waded in, telling a reporter “don’t believe everything you read. He’s the world champion and he’s been welcomed into the team.”

Button returned the favour later while answering questions from fans. One asked Button, “With refuelling banned, will your driving style give you an advantage over Hamilton?” “I think we can call him Lewis,” he quipped back, patting his new team mate on the back.

It doesn’t take a cynic to see that teams stress the ‘mate’ in ‘teams mates’ while privately the pair work on every way they have of beating each other.

But as Hamilton admitted, tight testing restrictions means they only have seven days each in the car each between now and the start of the season to suss the MP4-25 and help the team out-develop Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and the rest. And that means working together.

Once that’s done and the serious business of racing begins, that’s when we’ll see how well this all-champion, all-British line-up will work.

Image (C) www.mclaren.com