There are an awful lot of people who do not understand why Jenson Button would want to leave Brawn GP and go up against Lewis Hamilton in ‘his’ McLaren team. Jenson is quite under-rated, despite winning the F1 World Champion title in 2009 and Lewis Hamilton has been hyped before he even arrived in F1 as being the next Senna.
I think that McLaren have made a genius move by signing Button. In 2010 refuelling is not allowed during a race, meaning the cars will be heavier than they were in 2009. Another change is that the front tyres will be narrower, so having a smaller contact patch and less mechanical grip than before.
These differences may mean that drivers will need to manage their tyres more than before else they could wreck their race. Jenson Button’s normal driving style is one of the smoothest out there and he showed that he was far better at looking after his tyres than his team mate Rubens Barrichello in Monaco 2009. There has been more than one occasion where Lewis Hamilton has struggled with tyre wear, both pointing to an issue with the car set-up and his driving style. Lewis likes to hustle the car around a track, making it slide and over-steer far more than Jenson Button would. This can be great in some situations and is why he is fast in the wet, but it may be that in 2010 he will have to moderate and alter his style to try to be more like Button.
I say all this with the caveat that we don’t yet know exactly how the tyres will hold up with the extra fuel weight, but it is logical to assume that there might be an issue … and therefore those that cannot manage their tyres may start losing seconds per laps versus those who have found the right set-up and driving technique.
Given this uncertainty, McLaren have ensured that they have all bases covered. If tyre wear is indeed a big issue in 2010 then the pendulum will swing in Jenson’s favour … not just against his team mate but against the whole field of drivers. He might just be champion again this year.