Hamilton 'happy' for Button to win British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Jenson Button has said he will be bitterly disappointed if he does not add victory in the British Grand Prix on Sunday to his list of accomplishments while Lewis Hamilton claims that second place would not trouble him too much so long as he leaves Silverstone still in the lead of the World Championship.
"It's a big blank in my career," Button admitted of his failure thus far to have won at home. "Lewis and I have both won the Monaco Grand Prix and the World Championship, but he has the British Grand Prix on me. I love this place, I really do. And I'm going to have a good race."
Perhaps the reigning world champion is just saying that to keep himself fully boosted ahead of the race in which "England expects", but the sentiments sound as genuine as his insistence all week that he and Hamilton get on just fine, thanks, despite everyone's expectation that they really cannot be fighting for the world championship yet be as pally as they appear.
For the first time yesterday, the strain showed in a week when their words have been hashed and dished every which way, with additional comment from the likes of Damon Hill, Mark Webber and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thrown in for good measure. In the main press conference, Button and Hamilton were clearly bored with all the hoopla, and it wasn't hard to blame them.
"I just can't wait to get out on the track, and to get things going," Button declared, his notably easygoing manner nevertheless intact.
Yesterday, the duo travelled to the circuit by camper van, as part of a media stunt in which they handed out grandstand tickets to surprised punters. "There was one guy with a caravan who was really miserable, though," Hamilton smiled. "I offered him tickets and he just grunted, 'no thanks'."
Cannily, Hamilton let Button do most of the driving in the four-speed, 50mph vehicle from McLaren's headquarters in Woking.
Hamilton is, of course, the one who can afford to take a slightly more relaxed view of the weekend because he's already won this race, back in 2008. "It didn't shape my career," he said, "but it was something I really wanted to achieve, and I got it ticked off. It was incredible, because it was raining and I think I lapped everybody up to third place. I'd say that was one of my best-ever races."
He is, he says, determined to win if he can. But if he can't, if he ends up second, it would be less of a disappointment to him than it would be to Button. "We really want to be first and second," he said. "But neither of us is going to do something stupid and take ourselves out. Of course I'll be racing to win, and I'm not saying that I won't be, but I won't be complaining if I finish second. The world championship is the most important thing to me."
His arch-rival, Fernando Alonso, admitted yesterday that Ferrari needed to take as many as possible of the 75 points available for winning the three races before Formula One's summer break. Hamilton, however, said: "He has his own way of focusing on the championship. I'm just looking at the 25 points available this weekend. That's the way I work."
While Button and Hamilton were running out of different ways to say the same thing, F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone had plenty to say to the Italian paper Gazetta dello Sport on the subject of the amount of sponsorship identification teams were permitted to display in the paddock, and the suggestion that the teams' organisation Fota, which was at the heart of controversial action here last year when it announced its intention to launch a breakaway championship, no longer had a valid place in the sport.
Teams were warned about excessive displays in Canada, and have been ordered this weekend to remove their tractor units from the paddock because of the sponsorship branding each displays.
"It will never work because it is made by teams that fight against each other on the tracks," Ecclestone said in relation to Fota.
"When the teams examine rules, everyone tries to get an advantage. The teams wanted to divide F1, but now they understand that it is good to give importance to the money that they get [from Formula One]. There is no space for Fota..."
Ecclestone had previously denied any involvement in the row over sponsorship branding, claiming it was a matter between the teams and Allsport, who manage trackside advertising.