As most of you know by now, the World Driver’s Championship winner-elect, Jenson Button, has signed a multi-year deal with British team McLaren Racing. This marks several historic milestones for the Woking-based team. First, its the first time ever in the history of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the two reigning World Drivers’ Championship winners will be on the same team. Second, this is the first time ever in the history of McLaren Racing that they have had two British drivers. Of course, team founder Bruce McLaren was a New Zealander, but the team soon became known as a British racing team, especially after controlling interest in the team was purchased by recently ousted Ron Dennis. The team, now headed by Martin Whitmarsh, is nearly a true 100% British effort. McLaren constructs their own chassis, and both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are British drivers and members of the BRDC. The only thing external to the island nation is the engine supplier, Mercedes.
What does this mean regarding McLaren’s stance for 2010? Certainly fanatic and nationalistic fans are going nuts about this and this will only improve Formula 1’s and McLaren’s following amongst Britons and Anglophiles, but what of the rest? From a competition standpoint, it means that Hamilton will have some serious backup and teammate support finally. The relationship with Alonso was antagonistic at best and often outright hostile. Although the rapport be Kovalainen was far more civil, Heikki didn’t bring anything to the table with respect to car development or on-track performance. Jensen will be the perfect #2 driver at McLaren. Its a bit funny calling the current WDC-elect a “perfect #2” but let’s face it, Button is a good but not elite driver. This year, everything came together just right for Jenson, and he took full advantage of it. Now he’s on one of the top teams, with one of the top drivers as a teammate. I foresee a good working relationship between the two British drivers, and that good relationship seriously elevating McLaren’s race day performances. Next season should be an exciting one with several teams potentially contending for race wins and the Drivers and Constructors Championships!