McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has reiterated that F1 champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will both be given exactly the same chance to win races and fight for the F1 title in 2010.

Many within the sport expressed surprise when Button was confirmed at McLaren last month, with Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss and Niki Lauda all warning the 29-year-old prior to the announcement that it would be a risky move: "Going to McLaren will mean putting his head into the tiger's den with Hamilton already established there. That would be a huge challenge," said Stewart.

Furthermore Button's old boss, Ross Brawn has added that his decision to sign for McLaren is a 'courageous' one [see separate story click here].

However, while Hamilton is clearly already established at McLaren, Whitmarsh is insistent there won't be any favouritism.

"As team principal, inevitably it will be my role to harness both drivers' competitive instinct for productive means. Racing drivers by their nature are hugely competitive individuals - they want to win all the time," Whitmarsh told the official F1 website.

"My job will be to make sure that both Jenson and Lewis not only have the very best tools to do the job, but can also prosper and flourish in an environment that supports them both equally.

"Is that an additional challenge for the management in this team? Yes. Do we anticipate it providing us with an additional workload in order for us to successfully achieve equality for two very demanding racers? Inevitably, yes. Are we anticipating any difficulties or frustrations from either party? No - because we're confident that we can build a team that will support both drivers equally.

"I think Jenson and Lewis are mature enough and responsible enough to understand the bigger picture: we go racing as a team, and it's the successes we achieve together that build the foundations for any assault on the world championship. I feel confident that you'll see a very solid and responsible driver pairing next year."

Asked why they had signed Button, Whitmarsh added that it was nothing to do with nationality and purely due to issues of performance.

"At McLaren we've always been very direct in our approach to hiring drivers: we've always signed the two very best drivers available - and we make no concessions in that approach," he continued.

"Clearly, with Lewis already under contract, we were looking for a team-mate who we felt could not only complement the job that Lewis is already doing but who would also be able to challenge individually for the world championship as well as bolstering our efforts to win the constructors' title.

"Simply put, in Jenson we think we have the perfect package. We're incredibly positive about his arrival, we feel he will be a great addition to our team and in turn, we hope he'll feel at home here and really fit in at McLaren."

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