Sakhir, Saturday: Lewis Hamilton is finally getting used to having a teammate at McLaren in 2010, though he admits that being paired with reigning world champion Jenson Button was a little surprising at first.
“It’s been a bit strange, having had the garage all to yourself for two seasons before someone else comes along and starts driving the same car as you, sharing your data and your engineers,” the 2008 world champion told journalists after qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. “But I can see the benefit – it gives us a chance of winning the constructor’s championship as well, having two drivers scoring points for the team instead of one.”
Some reporters, confused about Hamilton’s apparent belief that he had competed in 2008 and 2009 without a teammate, approached team principal Martin Whitmarsh for clarification. Whitmarsh responded: “If we’d had a second driver at McLaren for the last two years, I’d certainly have known about it.”
According to the team boss, Hamilton had, initially, been confused about all of the talk surrounding the team’s new signing: “At one of the pre-season tests he came up to his race engineer, clutching his steering wheel. He wanted to ask which one of the dashboard functions was the Jenson button, and what it was supposed to do. A small misunderstanding, and one we were able to clear up quickly.”
Whitmarsh also sought to calm speculation on McLaren’s “neutrality” policy for 2010: “Our neutrality policy will only apply to Jenson,” he stated. “Specifically, Jenson will only be allowed to drive his car in neutral, whereas Lewis will be able to use all the gears. This is standard procedure.”
“Now that the situation with Jenson is understood,” Hamilton continued, “I’m looking forward to the challenge for this year. I’d like to thank the team for allowing me to beat Jenson this year – wait, I’m not meant to say that yet, am I?”