Lewis Hamilton has not-too-subtly hinted that Jenson Button’s assistance in supporting his quest to win a second Drivers’ Championship title “would be fantastic”.
The McLaren pairing have individually won the last two Drivers’ Championship crowns and are both mathematically in contention for this year’s championship, but a point-less race in Korea has seen Button slip to an almost insurmountable 42-point gap to championship leader, Fernando Alonso. With just two races and a maximum of fifty points on offer, it would seem that Button’s hopes are effectively over.
Meanwhile, Hamilton sits 21 points adrift in the championship race, and the relative gap between the two has sparked suggestions that Button should defer to his better-positioned team-mate.
The McLaren team has traditionally adopted a strict driver-equality ethos – a fact they later came to regret during the 2007 championship, when Hamilton and Alonso lost the title by a point to Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen – but the current position of both drivers in the championship standings led team boss Martin Whitmarsh to hint that Button should play a supporting role from here on.
Despite Button himself initially claiming – and then recanting – his championship chances were nigh on impossible after his Korean result, it would seem that the idea may need further thrashing out “before we get to Brazil”, Whitmarsh told reporters.
“Lewis is still very much in the hunt. Mathematically, it’s not impossible for Jenson, but it looks quite tough, very difficult for him,” Whitmarsh added.
When Hamilton was quizzed about his and Button’s approach with just two rounds left until the end of the season, Hamilton said: “We both push as hard as we can to score as many points as we can for the team.
“Clearly we’re both far behind, him further than me. I’m 21 points behind, so I’ve got to get a lot of points. I don’t know what will happen. You will have to speak to Martin on what he thinks he will have to do.
He then hinted: “All I know is I have to get as high as possible and it would be fantastic to have Jenson with me.”
[Original images via LAT]