But­ton ex­cited by move into the McLaren lions’ den

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ALAN BALD­WIN

LON­DON: For­mula One cham­pion Jen­son But­ton said he was more mo­ti­vated than ever af­ter his first full day in­side the lions’ den as Lewis Hamil­ton’s new McLaren team mate.

Brav­ing the snow to turn up – on Hamil­ton’s 25th birth­day – for his first ‘proper’ visit to the Wok­ing fac­tory, But­ton rel­ished the chal­lenge ahead af­ter a move de­cried by some as mad­ness af­ter the great­est year of his life.

Re­tired great Sir Jackie Stew- art had warned the Bri­ton would be step­ping into the lions’ den at a team dom­i­nated by his com­pa­triot, while But­ton him­self recog­nised he had left his com­fort zone be­hind.

Bri­tain’s out­spo­ken for mer Fer­rari driver Ed­die Irvine said this week But­ton was go­ing to get “mur­dered” on the track by Hamil­ton, the sport’s youngest cham­pion.

“The only rea­son I can think of is that he didn’t want to stay at Brawn with Ros­berg, who’s not as highly rated as Lewis, but might be just as quick,” the North­ern Ir­ish­man told ESPN.

“Jen­son may have thought that it’s bet­ter to get beaten by Lewis than get beaten by Nico.”

A re­laxed But­ton said he had noth­ing to prove: “I’m not one for an­swer­ing back, there’s no point,” he said. “For me, the im­por­tant thing is that I’m con­fi­dent in my abil­ity and I think that every­one is en­ti­tled to their opin­ion.

“All I can say is that I’m ex­cited about work­ing with Lewis, be­cause that is ex­actly what we are go­ing to have to do to be com- pe­t­i­tive this year. Re­ally it makes my life a lot eas­ier be­cause I’m in a much more re­laxed po­si­tion than peo­ple telling me that I was go­ing to de­stroy my team mate,” added the English­man whose place at Brawn (now Mercedes) has been taken by re­turn­ing seven times cham­pion Michael Schu­macher.

“I can just fo­cus on do­ing the best job I can and get­ting the best out of my­self and also get­ting the best out of the team. In a way, I don’t think it’s a neg­a­tive thing.”

But­ton takes his num­ber one po­si­tion into a changed For­mula One land­scape, with Toy­ota and BMW gone and a fist­ful of new pri­vate teams on the grid along with the re­turn of the most suc­cess­ful driver of all time in Schu­macher. He was de­lighted to see the Ger­man back.

“I think it is amaz­ing for the sport,” he said. “I think hav­ing four world cham­pi­ons racing, and one of them who has achieved more than any­one else in the sport, is great.

“It’s an un­usual de­ci­sion by Michael but he’s ob­vi­ously got his rea­sons... you’ve got to say fair play to (team boss) Ross (Brawn) for get­ting him on board.”

But­ton said his first im­pres­sions were of a team itch­ing to get back to the top this year, just like him. “Maybe if I stayed where I was (at Brawn) it would have been harder to get a sec­ond ti­tle. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so mo­ti­vated.

“But mov­ing to where I am now is some­thing that re­ally ex­cites me and some­thing I am go­ing to work re­ally hard on achiev­ing with the team this year. – Reuters

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