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Raw pace vs tyre-management will decide Hamilton-Button duel

“I think there will be a little bit of race-rustiness, but I think overall he's going to fit in pretty quickly. Grand prix drivers and racing drivers in general adapt – that's what they're all about – so it won't take him long. If the Mercedes is a great car that follows on from last season, then he's got every possibility of winning grands prix – but I don't think too much of it will be down to him...it will be down to what he's driving.

“I don't think [Massa] is going to be worried about taking on Alonso – he took Schumacher on for a year as well. Getting back from his injury, I would have said that he's up-to-speed by now. Obviously he's still going to be lacking a bit in F1 miles in recent times, but I don't think there will be any big problem for Massa.

“It would be great for the championship to see [Red Bull] right up in the thick of things, too. They left it late before launching the RB6, but all these teams seem to leave things later and later as it goes on; they always try to get the last little bit of modification and development in. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't.

“I think it's a great season ahead of us with the driver and car combinations that we have – you have to be looking forward to it. Alonso in a Ferrari, Vettel in a Red Bull, Button and Hamilton at McLaren and Schumacher at Mercedes – I don't think we've seen something like this for the last ten years.”

Musing that F1 has 'probably seen the last of' World Rally Championship (WRC) convert Kimi Raikkonen provided the Finn 'gets stuck in and it takes his focus and he enjoys it' in his new endeavour with the Citroën Junior Team, Blundell confessed that whilst rallying might be 'a different kettle of fish', it is nonetheless 'some of the best driving I've ever done in my life'.

The Englishman went on to reveal that he is intrigued to see if newcomers Lotus, Virgin and Hispania 'can actually produce some results on much lower budgets than the big boys', before adding finally that if given £100 to wager on the destiny of the 2010 world championship laurels, he would hedge his bets.

“I'd spread it,” he smiled, “and put £50 on Lewis and £50 on Vettel...”


by Russell Atkins

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