Jenson Button has admitted he thinks Lewis Hamilton will still be his teammate in 2013.
McLaren chiefs including Martin Whitmarsh have insisted they are “close” to signing a new deal with the 2008 world champion, but rumours suggest the two sides are at odds over Hamilton’s right to keep his original trophies, and money. Fellow Briton Button, who is already signed up for 2013, reportedly ‘laughed’ when Brazil’s Totalrace asked him if he thinks Hamilton will ultimately follow suit.
“Yeah, I think so,” he is quoted as saying. “I don’t know what options he has, but Lewis entered F1 with a team that gave him opportunities to win races and fight for championships.
“He might not have the chance to be champion every year, but the team gives him the conditions to fight for victories every year, and when you have that, it’s very difficult to go somewhere else and try to build a winning team. Some drivers, like myself, needed to do this (move teams), but once you’re in a team like this you don’t want to look back.
“I don’t know what his options are but I don’t think it’s Ferrari and nobody knows if Michael is going to be at Mercedes or not (next year). It would be a big change for him (Hamilton), but sometimes you do need a change.”
For Button, it has been an up-and-down 2012 season, who after winning the opening Australian grand prix is now 6 places and 88 points behind Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings.
“The first races were good,” he said, “and then I had a hard time when we tried new things for the car which I don’t think were ideal. After some races we decided to go back to where we were. The reasons we did what we did was to try to understand the behaviour of the tyres.
“In some ways it was my fault for not going back earlier. I insisted on following this path. From Germany onwards things got better for us,” said Button.
As for Alonso’s 40-point lead in the world championship, Button said the Spaniard has done a “phenomenal job” in 2012, but warned that the situation can quickly change.
“Each of the coming races will be difficult,” said Button. “He could easily lose 10, 15 points to someone each time.”