Jenson Button's decision to jump ship from the safe and familiar surroundings in which he swept to F1 World Championship glory in 2009 to join compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes this year is one he will come to regret, reckons Michael Schumacher's former team-mate Eddie Irvine.
After his late-season contract negotiations with Brawn GP – now Mercedes Grand Prix – hit an impasse
over a failure to come to financial terms, Button began to look around for other options, and McLaren wasted little time in attracting his gaze. Before very long at all, a deal was done – and the media went mad for the constitution of an all-British 'dream team' at Woking in 2010, and one composed of the sport's most recent two world champions to-boot.
However, the move went against the advice of many of F1's most high-profile figures, with the conventional wisdom being that the 29-year-old doesn't quite realise just what he will be letting himself in for in going directly up against a man whose raw pace and single-minded determination to succeed proved enough to unsettle even double world champion Fernando Alonso in 2007 – when Hamilton was merely a 'rookie', and his team-mate widely-regarded as the best driver in the sport.
So bad did things get, indeed, that the Oviedo native wound up cutting short his three-year agreement with McLaren and returning to Renault after just a sole, unhappy campaign – and if Alonso couldn't handle Hamilton, reasons Irvine, then Button has no chance.
“Jenson has entered the lion's den,” mused the Irishman – who triumphed in four grands prix himself for Ferrari in 1999 – speaking to ESPN
. “It was madness of him to move. He thinks he's going to be able to eat his steak, and that's not going to be the case – I think he's going to get murdered!
“It's the worst decision he could have made. The only reason I can think of is that he didn't want to stay at Brawn with Rosberg, who's not as highly-rated as Lewis but might be just as quick. Jenson may have thought that it's better to get beaten by Lewis than get beaten by Nico.
“Rubens Barrichello is a good little peddler and murdered Jenson in the second half of last season. Michael [Schumacher] never got murdered by anyone. Lewis came into his first year in F1 and beat a double world champion in Fernando Alonso – that's a class act. If you look at Jenson's career, Ralf Schumacher beat him, Giancarlo Fisichella beat him and Rubens beat him. There are too many races where he hasn't performed, to say he's at the level of any of those guys.”