McLaren chairman Ron Dennis has downplayed the similarities between his current line-up of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button and the famous rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
Dennis created one of the most infamous driver pairings in the sport’s history when he took on up-and-coming Brazilian Ayrton Senna from Lotus to race alongside established star Alain Prost at the team in 1988. The two initially co-operated, but by the end of the following year Prost departed in a storm of controversy and conflict with Senna.
But the McLaren chairman said that history would not be repeated, despite Hamilton’s stylistic similarities to Senna, and Button’s to Prost, when he was asked how different the relationship would be.
“Completely – primarily because irrespective of their individual characters, [Senna and Prost] came from very different cultural backgrounds and the basic DNA of their characters had that very different temperament,” he is quoted as saying by Autosport.
“Then you have language [differences], which gives birth to miscommunication. You have one driver preceding the other and feeling that he had to catch up.
“You have all these very, very different chemistries, and it’s just not the case with two drivers who have got like-minded approaches, an Anglophile approach. I don’t foresee any problems or difficulties that are in any way comparable with the challenges that I had in the past.”
Dennis said that firstly the team had to worry about getting to the front, and then any squabbling over who would take the winning would be a comparative luxury.
“I think they both have complementary skills. They’ve got great abilities. I don’t think the differences in their styles are going to favour one over the other.
“It’s going to be a very, very competitive season, and I’m sure that their first objective is to beat the rest of the field. If we’re in the privileged position of them having to race against each other and worry about the politics that may or may not come out of it – I doubt whether anything will come out of it in that sense – then it’s going to be a great position to be in.
“They’re a great combination of drivers and I’m sure the results will come.”