Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dream team or nightmare partnership?

LET'S get the two most important facts out of the way first. Today's news that F1 World Champion Jenson Button will join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren signals the first time a team has started a season with the last two world champs in the same colours.
And the last time two English World Champions were in the same team was at Lotus in 1968 when Graham Hill joined Jim Clark.
It really is a mouth-watering prospect, especially with the BBC now throwing their considerable weight behind terrestrial coverage - and the British Grand Prix apparently still in the balance.
Not everyone's happy of course. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will not race in F1 next year and former World Champion Jackie Stewart isn't sure it's the right thing for either driver.
But for now, let's hear Button on his amazing switch, which comes after Mercedes purchased Brawn GP and changed the name of the team, leaving Button out in the cold.
Button, 29, said that was a "difficult decision" though many suspect he had little choice. Button goes on: "Life is about challenges. Most important of all, it's about challenging yourself.
"I want to say that the 2009 season will always have a special place in my memory, and I'm absolutely sure that everybody at Brawn GP who worked so hard to achieve our world championship successes feels exactly the same way about it.
"Although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I'll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges.
"That's why I've decided to join McLaren. You can't help but be affected by this team's phenomenal history.
"McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, I've followed them since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it.
"When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month, it wasn't simply the technical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me.
"No, I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there. And then there's the team's epic history: put it this way, the trophy cabinets seem to stretch for miles.
"Lewis is a wonderfully gifted driver who has earned the respect of every Formula 1 driver.
"I'm sure there's plenty that we can learn from each other, and I'm really looking forward to using our combined knowledge to push the team forward."
Sadly Ron Dennis wasn't the one talking for McLaren. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers.
"In Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula One.
"I want to make clear that Jenson's decision to join us was in no way motivated by money. We'll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere."
And Hamilton? "It's fantastic news that Jenson has decided to join McLaren - and I'm looking forward to working with him and our engineers to make sure we kick off the 2010 season with a car that's competitive enough to win the world championship
"I already know Jenson, and we get on very well together. We both really want our team to succeed. Although we'll be pushing each other hard, I'm sure we'll very quickly establish a great working relationship.
"He's an exceptional driver: very controlled and very smooth, and he has a real depth of knowledge and experience. I think we'll complement each other very well, and our collaboration will make the team stronger as a result. I believe we can pull together to make McLaren the best team on the grid."
Let's hope so, now that England have all their eggs in the McLaren basket. After a poor start to the 2009 season, McLaren came back strongly in the second half of the year, while Brawn, after dominating the first third of the season, slipped back.
It's a hell of a gamble, but bloody exciting... much more so than the concurrent announcement that Martin Johnson had slipped Simon Shaw back into the England team to play the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday.
Put your money on McLaren... and the All Blacks!

1 comment:

  1. I agree, bit of a gamble but bloody exciting!