McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton’s biggest rival in 2007 is likely to be countryman Jenson Button.
That is the claim of the 1996 world champion – and another Englishman – Damon Hill, who told the newspaper ‘Daily Mail’: “There is going to be a rivalry from the start between Button and Hamilton.”
Hill’s comments follow the claim of McLaren principal Ron Dennis that, with the exception of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, no existing F1 driver was qualified to secure the second seat at the Woking team.
“We felt the others had pretty much plateaued in their careers. There was no one who shone,” he said.
Honda’s 26-year-old Button, however, appeared unfazed that his spot as the top British driver in F1 may now be under threat.
Referring to Hamilton, 21, Button said: “We’re here to work and we’re here to beat each other. We’re not here to make friends.”
Yet another Briton, however – Scot and F1 veteran David Coulthard – questioned his former team’s selection of reigning GP2 champion Hamilton as a teammate for twice world champion Alonso.
Red Bull’s Coulthard told the British tabloid News Of The World: “It could destroy (Hamilton’s) confidence. He would have been better off with a year’s testing.”