Button & Hamilton gear up for British Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were given a shock today when it was suggested that the loser in their Formula One world title fight should have their head flushed down a toilet.
The idea came from 11-year-old Carl Hillis at today's press conference at the Institute for Child Health in London to promote Sunday's British Grand Prix.
Carl has been designated as official reporter for Lifeline, the magazine for the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and will be attending Sunday's race at Silverstone.
Carl was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of three that required intensive chemotherapy, only to suffer a relapse six years later, in July 2008, that led to 10 weeks in isolation after undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
The cub reporter from Rayleigh in Essex, who is now in good health, livened up the media gathering with his question.
He asked: "Have you had a private bet between yourselves as to which one of you will be world champion this year?"
With just six points between the duo at the top of the standings, with 2008 title-winner Hamilton holding the narrow advantage over current holder and McLaren team-mate Button, it is fair to suggest either could be crowned again at the end of this season.
"We should do shouldn't we? We should have a little one," suggested Hamilton to Button.
To which Button replied: "But we're not gambling people are we? We don't gamble."
"Maybe one of your cars or something," said Hamilton with a smile.
Raising his eyebrows, the 30-year-old Button said: "One of my cars? You've got more exciting cars than I have. I'm an old man now."
It led to Carl being asked as to what the loser should do, to which he responded: "Get their head flushed down the toilet!"
Checking to make sure he had heard correctly, Button said: "Did you really just say that? Get your head flushed down the toilet?"
When Carl, a Hamilton fan at heart, nodded, Button added: "That sounds like a good plan, but I think I better get my running shoes on if it doesn't work out for me this year."
The exchange at least offered some light relief for the duo during what is their busiest week of the year, one in which the pressure will build up to Sunday's home race in front of a 120,000 crowd at Silverstone.
There was a further insightful offering from the British pair that highlighted their different characters and different stances to the biggest event on the British motor sport calendar.
Hamilton and Button were asked what their approach would be to the last lap should they be fortunate enough to be vying for the lead.
As a driver yet to stand on the podium at the British Grand Prix in 10 previous attempts, Button's reply was clearly more from a personal perspective than that of the team.
"I don't think you can ever plan ahead in those situations, but we are both winners, we both want to win," said Button.
"We are here to fight against each other. That's what you do in Formula One.
"We're never going to call ourselves the best, but we're always going to fight to be the best, and we're going to fight it out - well I am anyway."
As a previous winner of the British Grand Prix, and as a driver who has spent the last 12 years with McLaren, Hamilton's response was more corporate, more with the team in mind.
"I think the one thing to remember is that the championship is not won this weekend," said Hamilton.
"There's a long way to go. The rest of the season is still to come, so in terms of the championship it's just another race.
"It is a special grand prix for us because it's our home one, so I don't think it's necessary to do anything silly on the last lap."
Hamilton's answer prompted Button to alter his stance slightly, but nevertheless sets the scene for a fascinating battle.
Button concluded: "We both know we're here fighting for the championship and we'd all love to win our home grand prix.
"For me that's something I'd love to achieve whilst I'm still racing in Formula One.
"We've a lot of respect for each other, as you saw in Turkey when we fought hard but didn't touch."
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