F1 experts have almost unanimously expressed their concern for recently-crowned world champion Jenson Button after it was revealed that he will be teaming up at McLaren-Mercedes alongside compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton next season.
As had been predicted earlier this week, Button has tied up a multi-year deal to jump ship from Brawn GP – now Mercedes Grand Prix – to multiple world champions McLaren as he seeks 'fresh challenges' in his career at the highest level [see separate story – click here
However, despite the 29-year-old's palpable enthusiasm for the task that lies ahead, others are questioning the wisdom of his decision, given that he will be entering what some consider to be the lion's den in that McLaren has come to be regarded as a team built very much around its star protégé Hamilton, who effectively joined the Surrey-based outfit as part of its young driver programme at the tender age of just ten.
Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso left after just a single unhappy season at Woking in 2007, whilst Heikki Kovalainen has failed to remotely get to grips with the Stevenage-born ace over the past two years. Some highly-respected paddock figures fear Button could be set for a similar fate, equal billing or no.
“In the past they (McLaren) have had a history of really being able to only fully support one driver,” popular commentator Martin Brundle told BBC Radio
, reflecting on his own experience at the squad alongside Mika Hakkinen back in 1994.
What's more, both David Coulthard and three-time F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart had advised Button to remain at Brawn rather than chase the money at McLaren. Much-loved veteran commentator Murray Walker similarly told Reuters
he is 'not sure that Button could keep up with' Hamilton – and fellow Brit Johnny Herbert said in an interview with The Sun
that the new driver pairing is 'like the adopted son going up against the prodigal son'.
However, Button did at least receive some words of encouragement from 2010 Ferrari rival Felipe Massa – a man who will likely face a challenge-and-a-half of his own with Alonso's arrival at Maranello – as the Brazilian told globo.com
that the all-British line-up 'will be an excellent pairing'.