McLaren: we can manage dream team's egos

Click to follow
The Independent Online

McLaren are confident that intensive pre-season preparation will enable world champion Jenson Button to make a strong start to his racing in 2010.

"We've always traditionally involved our drivers in the development of the car, and the most important thing we can do in the early days of our relationship is to get Jenson to look at what we do, evaluate it and to ask questions and make suggestions," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "Preparation is everything: with Lewis at the start of 2007, he showed just how much could be achieved with a combination of rock-solid preparation and solid hard work."

Whitmarsh said a priority would be to make Button feel at home, and to provide an environment in which he will feel comfortable and relaxed and where both parties can get the best from each other.

"One of the most important tasks will be to get Jenson familiarised with our procedures: how we work at McLaren and how we go racing. He'll need to start putting names to faces, of course, but it should all be a very straightforward job for someone of his experience."

He said he is not concerned about managing two strong egos in what has been labeled a 'dream team' with the two most recent champions.

"We feel confident that, as an organisation, we'll be able to manage the demands and expectations of our drivers. Lewis and Jenson are both world champions, they know what it takes to win, and I'm sure they'll both be very motivated to push each other to deliver even greater results. It's my job to positively harness that competitiveness for the greater benefit of the team.

"It's a proposition that some teams might find troubling, but which we are absolutely relishing – it's a very nice problem to have! We have two fiercely competitive individuals who both fully understand the benefit of teamwork. They are phenomenal team players. My job is to manage that racer's instinct: they are there to race each other - and the only instruction they'll receive from me is to respect each other on the track. But that's it - other than that, they're free to race."

Paddy Lowe, McLaren's engineering director, said they were confident of producing a competitive car straight away, following Hamilton's performances in the second half of 2009. "We feel we're making very good progress, but, equally, we know there are some very capable teams out there too - I'd be surprised if Red Bull Racing and Ferrari don't come out with very strong packages, and I think Mercedes GP will produce another extremely quick car. You don't write anybody off in this business."

Meanwhile, as Peter Sauber buys back his team from BMW following the collapse of the latter's deal with the controversial Qadbak organisation and prepares to fight for the 13th grid slot with little-known Serbian-based Stefan GP who plan to take over Toyota, Button and Hamilton will have 19 races in 2010 after it was confirmed that the Canadian GP will return in Montreal.