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And now the cracks begin to show.....

8 October 2012

Not that it really matters with five races remaining and barely a championship challenge remaining between them, but the first cracks and paranoia in the relationship between McLaren team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button surfaced in the wake of a difficult Japanese Grand Prix for the team.

Despite suggestions to the opposite - which appeared as soon as Button committed his F1 future to McLaren, taking the #1 to the Woking team as partner to Hamilton, the driver it had nurtured since karting - the relationship has always seemed cordial, surviving a season in which Hamilton was beaten for the first time ever in the standings by a driver in the same car and several close moments on track, typified by their clash at last year's Canadian Grand Prix. Now, however, with Hamilton having committed his future to Mercedes, and McLaren understandably preparing to share its closest secrets just with Button, the first signs of discord popped up on the former's medium of choice the morning after Suzuka.

Twitter users following the 2008 world champion woke to find him 'dissing' - undoubtedly his choice of word - Button for deciding not to pay any further attention to what he had to say.

"Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame," he posted shortly after midnight UK time on Monday, "After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn't."

That outburst was followed seconds later by another:

"Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates! All good tho, I plan on giving this team & fans all I got til I cross the finish line in brazil!!!"

It was therefore a little embarrassing for the 27-year old to be subsequently be told that Button, who out-performed him in both qualifying and the race in Japan, had never 'followed' @LewisHamilton, prompting a swift retraction....

"My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me," he wrote, "Don't blame him! Need to be on Twitter more."

Hamilton's enthusiastic adoption of the social media outlet has landed him in hot water before as, among the myriad photos and musical references he has taken to posting for the wider world to share, he also chose to post images of data traces from his McLaren after a disappointing qualifying session at the Belgian Grand Prix! Although the team later insisted that there was nothing too sensitive contained in the picture - which, despite being deleted almost immediately by Hamilton, was understandably 'retweeted' by his followers, reaching rivals up and down the pit-lane - it appeared to put another dent in their relationship and deepened the growing rift that is thought to have pushed the driver into the arms of Mercedes from 2013.

Both Button and Hamilton currently count on more than a million Twitter followers, although the latter posts less frequently - and with decidedly more care.... As US F1 pit-lane reporter Will Buxton put it, among numerous other posts on the subject, 'the sad thing about all this is that Jenson doesn't follow Lewis and is thus probably completely unaware of the hilarity that is ensuing'.

Ironically, following his qualifying disappointment on Saturday, in which a struggle to find the right set-up left him ninth on the grid, Hamilton chose a more inspirational quote for one of his posts:

"The time is always right to do what is right" Marin Luther King Jr....," he noted, "Remove yourself from any negativity & be your higher self & love".


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