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Button and Hamilton: Friends or Foes?
The McLaren duo claim to get on, but do they really?
Posted May 06, 2011 by Chris White
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British motor racing has seen a return to the glory days of the past in recent years, with World Championship winning drivers coming along like buses. You wait years for one, and then two come along at once.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button became teammates at McLaren for the 2010 season after Button clinched the drivers' Championship at Brawn the year before. Ironically, Button replaced Hamilton as World Champion, taking over at McLaren from Fernando Alonso. This meant that the McLaren team not only had two British drivers, but the 2008 and 2009 World Champions.
But do they really get along, or is it all a facade put on for the cameras, press and sponsors? There is no doubt that they are both great drivers - they wouldn't have won the World Championship if they weren't - but has their rivalry for the title in the past prevented any chance of them becoming actual friends?
On numerous occasions since the pair became teammates, there have been icy glares from one to the other as they look up at the podium to see the other on the top step, or one car has finished much higher than the other on the grid, prompting rumours in the paddock of a working relationship between Button and Hamilton, rather than one of friendship.
Jenson Button has been in the Formula One paddock since 2000, when he made his debut for Benetton. For seasons, Button went searching for the elusive victory or podium place, and finally won while at Honda in 2006 at Hungary after starting 14th on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton on the other hand, took the paddock by storm in his debut season in 2007. McLaren gave him a very competitive car and Hamilton was unfortunate to miss out on the Championship to teammate Fernando Alonso. The next year, Hamilton did win the title, prompting Alonso to move to Ferrari and open the door for Button to join the McLaren garage.
At the beginning of last season, Button was asked about the relationship and said, "It's important for us to work together and Lewis understands that. So far we've got on very well. We're competitive, but that's fine as long as we go about it the right way."
Hamilton, on the other hand, said, "You have to have the utmost respect for each other, and that's all I'll say about that. You always want to compete with your teammate, but we are there to race everyone. We're both very professional, we get on well and we've got a good relationship that's grown from many years in the sport."
A rift in the garage certainly wouldn't be anything new. Motorcycle racers for instance certainly don't always get on as teammates. Take Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo as an example, they built a wall between them. Literally!
What is important is that the two keep challenging for the Championship. For the British public, it would be great to see the pair getting on and finishing on the top step of the podium regularly, but the fact is, that isn't always the case. The pair can say absolutely anything in front of a camera. It doesn't mean that they mean it. If they do, brilliant, help each other to the Championship. If not, they have to remember they're teammates as well as rivals. We don't want them taking each other out now do we?