Lewis Hamilton has praised his McLaren-Mercedes team-mate, compatriot and title-winning successor Jenson Button for his excellent start to the F1 2010 World Championship campaign – but if he acknowledges that he himself has done things 'the hard way' so far this season, the British star insists he is confident the tables will turn.
Whilst Button bravely and superbly called all the right shots in tricky climatic conditions in both Melbourne and Shanghai to become the only double winner of the year to-date, Hamilton has contrastingly left himself with rather more work to do.
A poor qualifying showing and misguided strategy following his run-in with local police Down Under, a Q1 exit in ill-advisedly trying to second-guess the weather in Sepang and an over-eagerness to switch from slick tyres to intermediates when the rain came down in Shanghai have all cost the 2008 F1 World Champion time, points, podiums and arguably also victories.
That combination of factors has served to leave Hamilton 3-1 down in the qualifying stakes – something few would have put much money on just a couple of months ago – and trailing Button by 60 points to 49 in the drivers' standings.
On the positive side, however, the 25-year-old's raw pace, determination, aggression and fighting spirit have never been in question, with some searing – if occasionally controversial – charges through the pack described as amongst the finest performances of his career. Once he succeeds in stringing it all together, the Stevenage-born ace is convinced his time will come.
“I feel I have had great races,” he told British media, “but he (Button) has taken the right decisions and taken the easier route. I've done it the hard way and got good results, but hopefully soon I will take the easier route. There was a lot of stuff about him (Button) joining my team and I would be favoured...but I am really happy for him. He did a better job and I am sure that when the tables turn, as they will, it will the same for me.”
As to fears that the spectre of famous McLaren feuds such as those between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s and himself against Fernando Alonso three years ago – or even the heightening tensions at Ferrari in 2010 after Alonso shoved his team-mate Felipe Massa unceremoniously onto the grass in the pit-lane in China last weekend – could be re-awakened this year between the two countrymen, Hamilton was categorical.
“I don't think it will happen with us,” the eleven-time grand prix-winner underlined. “The good thing with me and Jenson is that we clearly want to beat each other, but Jenson is very smart and does not have that too-aggressive flair in him and neither have I.”