McLaren’s one-two in China was quite impressive as although they don’t seem to quite have the fastest car, both drivers got the maximum out of their equipment using different strategies and made the rest of the field look quite average. It’s still very early days, but could the pairing of Button and Hamilton be McLaren’s dream team?
Some of the fans of Hamilton, in particular, seem to not think this judging by the comments made on discussion boards. These views were vocalised before the start the season and most recently I read a lot of silly comments on Andrew Benson’s recent blog on the BBC where a lot of Hamilton fans seem to completely refuse the fact that Button, despite winning two of the four races this year, might be as quick as their favourite driver sometimes.
Thankfully the drivers themselves are being very professional and seem to be getting on well, so far(!), and have given each other a lot of respect whilst at the same time pushing each other and the team very hard. This is exactly the way it should be and can really drive a team to the front of the pack.
Earlier in the year I wrote about the similarity of their differing driving styles with the great battle between Senna and Prost at McLaren in 1988-1989. That battle became one of the most acrimonious and intense rivalries in Formula 1 history. The reasons for this were complex, but a big part of it was Senna being unable to accept that Prost, who had such an opposite approach to him, could be as quick he was.
I wrote that I believed, and still do, that the rivalry between Button and Hamilton will not be anywhere near as acrimonious as the Senna versus Prost battle. There seems to be a great potential that Lewis and Jenson could prove to be a most dynamic and fruitful partnership that could bring great success to them both and the team.
The evidence is clear that both Hamilton and Button are quick drivers and seem evenly matched, but their driving skills are different. There will be days when Hamilton is quicker and there will be days when Button is faster. Crucially, both drivers seem to have accepted this and this can only be good for them and the team.
McLaren Team Principal, Martin Whitmarsh, will be delighted with how the partnership is working out at the moment. The drivers are pushing each other hard, but are working together where it counts to develop the car into a consistent race winner.
Their supportive demeanour for each other has been clear to see and this could be the beginnings of a McLaren dream team. I hope that fans of both Hamilton and Button will start to see it this way too.