Belfast Telegraph

Don't let Jenson Button go, urges Lewis Hamilton

By Ian Parkes

Lewis Hamilton has urged McLaren, his former team, not to ditch Jenson Button.

Button's future is currently in limbo as McLaren have yet to make a decision on their driver line-up for 2015.

It is understood McLaren are waiting on Fernando Alonso to negotiate his settlement with Ferrari - the Spaniard is leaving the team at the end of the season with a year remaining on his contract.

Until then McLaren have to hold fire on making an announcement, with the choice appearing a straight one as to whether they opt for young gun Kevin Magnussen or the more experienced Button.

Hamilton, who partnered Button at McLaren for three years from 2010-2012, believes the decision should be a no-brainer for Group CEO Ron Dennis.

"Jenson is better than most of the (current) drivers," assessed Hamilton.

"He's a great driver, still one of the strongest drivers here, and he's had an amazing career. He's also a decent guy, so it doesn't correlate.

"If I had a team, I would want him in it because he's a great asset for any team, so I hope it's not the case (he is leaving)."

Hamilton believes McLaren's judgement is clouded by the fact they have been winless for the past two years.

The 29-year-old added: "He still has plenty of time, given his ability as a driver, to keep racing and winning. He just needs to be given a better car.

"It's not the team need a better driver - there are not many out there. They just need a better car."

Hamilton, meanwhile, heads into tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix feeling calm despite the prospect of his second world title fast looming into view.

Five successive victories have propelled Hamilton into a 24-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with two races remaining, albeit with double points available in the last event in Abu Dhabi.

A nerveless Hamilton said: "I don't have any fears. Honestly, you can look in my eyes, I don't have any fears.

"I feel like where I am today is not down to luck. I'm not where I am today by mistake.

"I really think I've utilised every experience or opportunity I've had this year, or at least recovered if I have not utilised them.

"I feel comfortable where I am, that I've done everything I can, and at the end of the day that's all you can do.

"In these next two races I'm going to do everything I can, and whatever the result at the end, it is the way it is, but I will know I did everything I could.

"I will go into my winter knowing I did everything I could, that I won't look back and say 'If only I'd done this or that'.

"That's a good feeling to have and perhaps why I'm excited to be here and get in the car tomorrow."

Rosberg, however, proved he is unwilling to allow Hamilton to ride roughshod all over him by turning in a dominant day of practice, topping the timesheet at the end of both 90-minute sessions, initially on the medium-compound tyre in the morning and then soft rubber in the afternoon.

Rosberg's best time of the day was a one minute 12.123secs for one of the most-renowned circuits in F1, with Hamilton just over two tenths of a second adrift - the same for both sessions.

For once, it was Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari, rather than team-mate Alonso, emerging the best of the rest, with the Finn just over half a second adrift.

As for Alonso, his session came to a premature end when his car burst into flames after he had pulled off the circuit, initially with smoke billowing from the rear of his car.

Alonso finished down in seventh, 0.999secs off of Rosberg's pace.

In between the Ferrari duo were Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull and Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, the latter on home soil.

Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat was next up, followed by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull and McLaren's Kevin Magnussen to round out the top 10.

As for Button, he was down in 16th, just over two seconds back after suffering an ERS (energy recovery store) failure at the end of his installation lap.

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