Lewis Hamilton has been quick to dismiss suggestions that his relationship with McLaren-Mercedes team-mate, compatriot and fellow world champion Jenson Button will not last the course in F1 2011 – insisting that whilst 'we're both racers...we're both sensible', too.
Hamilton and Button, if you recall, were predicted to fall out no sooner had the F1 2010 campaign – their first alongside one another at Woking – got underway, but as things transpired, their partnership was one of if not indeed the
most harmonious on the grand prix grid, a far cry from McLaren's previous experiences of trying and spectacularly failing to manage two cohabiting title-contenders. BBC F1
commentator Martin Brundle has opined that looking ahead to the forthcoming campaign, 'when we see them (Hamilton and Button) in an absolute head-to-head, I think we might find a different dynamic between the two', pointing to the underlying tensions of Istanbul last spring as evidence of potential for upset [see separate story – click here
What's more, many are forecasting that the arrival of Pirelli rubber and the swift deterioration of the Italian manufacturer's super-soft compound during testing thus far will play directly into the hands of the ultra-smooth Button, whose ability to preserve his tyres is practically unrivalled in the field – whereas Hamilton's contrastingly balls-out, famously uncompromising aggression could leave the 2008 title-winner in trouble, experts fear.
Brundle believes that should the duo cross each other's path on-track too often in 2011, it could just lead to dissension amongst the ranks and a Red Bull Racing Vettel/Webber style fall-out – a notion to which Hamilton offers short shrift.
“We're both racers, but we're both sensible,” the 26-year-old told the official F1 website. “We both know that to win in F1 you need the best equipment. Is there any sense in Jenson and me fighting against each other if it damages our chances of having the fastest car?
“As we've said all along, we need to work together to develop our car, move it into the best possible position – and only then can we start thinking about the world championship. What's the use in battling tooth-and-nail over tenth place?
“Having said that, Jenson and I also get on very well together – we've both grown up within British motorsport, we've shared a lot of the same experiences and it's brought us to the same point in our lives, driving for McLaren-Mercedes and doing our very best to win the world championship for ourselves and our team.”
As to the potential of the new MP4-26, meanwhile – with testing at Jerez last week having been beset by a lack of spare parts and mechanical woes – the 14-time grand prix-winner insists it is still impossible to measure the car's outright pace against its immediate rivals.
“Performance is relative,” he stressed. “You can pull out all the stops over the winter and still not know what shape you'll be in at the first race. All I can say is that every single person within our organisation has been flat-out to ensure the car is the best it can be. Will that be good enough? We won't know until we get to Bahrain...”