Jackie Stewart: Jenson Button should be McLaren’s number one driver
By Berthold Bouman
After Lewis Hamilton decided to move to Mercedes and was replaced by Mexican Sergio Perez, there have been speculations about who should play the leading role at McLaren in 2013. Sir Jackie Stewart said in an interview with Press Association that he believes 2009 World Champion Jenson Button would be the perfect candidate for that role.
McLaren have stated both drivers will get equal treatment as Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh last week said, “They will definitely have equal treatment; that’s how we operate. I think that dynamic, that competition within the team is good and we’re here to win world championships so both drivers want to be part of that.”
Stewart, however, 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.”
The triple World Champion is adamant Button is able to win the title again, “So I think he can do it again with the right equipment, and there cannot be a better supplier of that equipment than McLaren.”
About McLaren he said, “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.”
Sir Jackie Stewart – Photo: Williams F1
But Stewart also hinted Button should now score more wins, and he thinks consistency is the key to be the number one driver, “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 judgement. He is very solid. Whether he has what it takes to be a serial winner, the jury is still out because he hasn’t done that yet.”
Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether Button will be faster than Perez to begin with, and whether he can use his vast experience to take on a leading role in the McLaren team. Of course not just Perez will be a formidable opponent for the Briton, but also triple World Champion Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel will give him plenty of opposition, as well as Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who was second in last year’s championship.
Testing for the 2013 season will start on February 5, at the Jerez circuit in Spain. McLaren will launch its 2013 contender on January 31, but still have to announce where the unveiling will take place.
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