Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Jenson Button to seize the number one driver status at McLaren and target his second world championship title, despite Martin Whitmarsh declaring that, as per the team’s tradition, new boy Sergio Perez will be afforded equal treatment to the 2009 world champion.
Speaking to the Press Association Stewart said, “It’s not a question of equal footing this year. You’ve someone in Jenson who knows the engineers, telemetry people, knows the business, and who has been there, seen it and done it. So I think he can [win the world championship again] with the right equipment, and there cannot be a better supplier of that equipment than McLaren.”
“They are about as good as they come. They’ve got the facilities, so many assets, so yes, he can do it if the car is good enough and he is psyched up enough. He no longer has to keep up with Lewis and that’s a mental thing, so he has to see himself as the number one driver, and that McLaren are depending on him,” added the three time world champion and respected F1 observer.
The only doubt that Stewart has is in Button’s ability to win races consistently – he has won only eight times in three seasons with McLaren. hence Stewart’s questions over his chances of mounting another serious title campaign. Last year Button won the season opening race and the final race of the championship, too.
“When he wins races they are beautifully-controlled races. You just know he is not going to fly off the race track or make huge errors of judgment. He is very solid. Whether he has what it takes to be a serial winner [with McLaren], the jury is still out because he hasn’t done that yet,” mused Stewart.
Stewart is mindful of Red Bull and their dominance over the past few years, and admitted that a fourth title in a row for the energy drinks owned squad is a distinct possibility.
“There’s a big risk of that happening, that’s simply because Adrian Newey [Red Bull’s technical director] has an amazing energy level and deep wells of adrenalin in him somewhere. If he continues to have the same enthusiasm and interest, and with him being so creative, then it’s tough for anybody to keep up,” predicted Stewart.
When Lewis Hamilton announced his departure to Mercedes, McLaren were quick to sign up Perez from Sauber. But compared to Button, and Hamilton for that matter, the 22 year old Mexican has limited experience and none in a squad with McLaren’s reputation and need to win, which suggests that Button is the biggest winner in the game of driver musical chairs ahead of the 2013 season. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.