Friday, September 07, 2012
Button expects Hamilton to stay at McLaren
By Alan Baldwin
MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Jenson Button expects to be sharing a garage with Lewis Hamilton again next season even if his McLaren team mate did little on Thursday to dampen speculation about a move to Mercedes.
Hamilton's Formula One future has been a regular feature of paddock gossip this season but became a major talking point at the Italian Grand Prix after former team boss Eddie Jordan claimed a deal with Mercedes was imminent.
Hamilton, whose management have said they are still in advanced negotiations with McLaren about renewing a contract that expires at the end of the year, swerved questions but did not dismiss anything either.
Asked if he had any comments to make about the rumours, the 27-year-old replied: "Not really."
"So, do you know where you're driving next year?" he was asked in a news conference.
His reply was even more abrupt: "No".
Questioned about the positives of a move to Mercedes, Hamilton responded: "I have no idea. I've not really thought about it."
McLaren are the second most successful team in Formula One history and have won the last two races. Mercedes have won once - in China in April - since they took over the title-winning Brawn team at the end of 2009.
Hamilton said he did not think he was "really looking for anything to be put into perspective" and was focused on the weekend ahead.
Asked what he was looking for in the negotiations, whether it was purely money, Hamilton said he just wanted to win.
"I always want to win, every year you compete, that's why us drivers exist and that's why the teams exist. It's just making sure you're in the right place to do so," he said.
Speaking to reporters afterwards in the team motor home, Button was confident Hamilton would stay with a team that has backed and supported the Briton since he was a teenage karter some 15 years ago.
"We all read newspapers, magazines and the internet, and you hear things, and I was surprised to see what I read yesterday," said the 2009 world champion.
"I haven't a clue if there's any truth in it at all but I think I'll have the same team mate next year."
Button moved from Brawn, now Mercedes, to McLaren because he wanted a new challenge and being in the same team as the 2008 champion was certainly as big as any. He had no doubt that staying would be the best choice for Hamilton.
"For all of us it can be that if you are in the same place for too long it can get a bit stale, but not here," he said. "This is a great team, one that is always giving us the opportunity to fight for wins.
"A driver likes the excitement and adrenaline of new challenges, and that's the reason I came here in the first place. But I don't think anything will change here next year in terms of driver line-up."
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, Button's former boss, would not comment on speculation but said Mercedes wanted to be a team on every F1 driver's list.
"We've a tremendous history we want to live up to. We haven't quite got there yet, but I think the plans we are making, the structure we are putting in place, particularly with the changes in regulations coming over the next couple of years, we are very ambitious in what we want to achieve," he said.
"If we achieve what we want to achieve then we want to put ourselves in a position where every driver in Formula One would consider driving for us."
Brawn said discussions with seven-times world champion Schumacher were ongoing but the decision would not be the German's alone. Schumacher has said he will not make any announcement until October.