Stewart impressed by cool Button

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir Jackie Stewart believes Jenson Button has the title edge over team-mate Lewis Hamilton after hailing the reigning world champion "a lion tamer".

Before the start of the season, following Button's move from Brawn GP to McLaren, Stewart warned the 30-year-old he was stepping into the lion's den given Hamilton had been part of the team since the age of 14.

Many critics, not just Stewart, were expecting Hamilton to firmly put Button in the shade, but after the first four races it is the newcomer who so far holds sway.

"I did say he would be walking into the lion's den," said the three-times world champion, addressing the talking point at yesterday's re-launch of the Silverstone circuit.

"What he has proven is he can handle that den very well. It's not to say he is better than Lewis, or vice-versa.

"It's just they have two very different styles of driving. Like Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. Both winners, but very different in terms of their styles."

Button is akin to Prost - a thinker and very smooth, traits that have led to two victories in the first four races and leadership in the current drivers' standings.

Hamilton is very much like Mansell - brave, aggressive, a fighter who claws his way into races when the chips are down, as he has done in the last three races in Australia, Malaysia and China.

"At 30 years old, Jenson is at the right age where he has gained experience and knowledge and be able to apply it," added Stewart.

"He's doing that in a very smooth and calculated fashion. He's a very cool, calm and collected driver, and in a technical sense he is doing a remarkable job.

"I still think Lewis is probably the better racer. Nobody can pass cars like Lewis can.

"If he wasn't driving well enough, that would be breaking his back, but he thinks he is driving quite well.

"It's just circumstances that haven't allowed him to win a race. So I think that's workable, and it is keeping his spirits up.

"He is going to win races this year, I have no doubt about that at all."

But according to Stewart, on the basis of assessing the first four grands prix, it is Button who gets his vote as a potential champion again.

"Jenson is in that zone at the moment where he is making the right decisions at the right time," said the 70-year-old.

"I think if he keeps driving the way he is at the present time, I would have to say he is the favourite of the two.

"He has such an extraordinary skill. What he mustn't do is over-drive in order to win."

Stewart was part of an all-star cast, with guest of honour HRH The Duke of York, on hand for the opening ceremony of the initial phase of a redevelopment that will cost just under £40million, with a new pit and paddock complex due to be in place this time next year.

For now, the track has been re-designed as it cuts out Bridge and Priory and instead heads from Abbey and on to the newly-named Farm Curve, Village corner, The Loop, Aintree corner and Wellington Straight, before rejoining the old track at Brooklands.

"I think this circuit has always been one of the leading tracks," said Stewart.

"The new part of it allows the development of Silverstone to really secure the long-term stability of Formula One and motorsports in this country."