Button faces challenge of his life

The conventional wisdom has it that the 30-year-old Briton is on a hiding to nothing against compatriot Lewis Hamilton, the younger team mate who wants to take back the championship he won in 2008.

Some, such as retired triple champion Jackie Stewart, have warned Button that he is making a big mistake in stepping into the "Lions' Den". Four other champions polled in F1 Racing magazine this month all voted for Hamilton as top dog.
That may not be the case and it is certainly not how Button sees it. Like 1996 world champion compatriot Damon Hill before him, he is a lot quicker and more accomplished than many give him credit for.

In many respects the pressure is off, even if the McLaren line-up is presented as a battle of Britons that has to end up with a winner and loser.

Much is made of McLaren being Hamilton's second family, a team that has backed the 25-year-old Briton since he was a boy in go-karting. However the first Formula One car that Button ever drove was a McLaren and he has always been a fan of the team, even if it has taken him more than a decade to turn the wheel full circle.
Until last season, nobody would have given Button any chance of driving for McLaren. But that was before he won six of the first seven races of 2009 and opinions changed. Button has matured over the years but the talent is the same. “He's an exceptional driver: very controlled and very smooth, and he has a real depth of knowledge and experience," Hamilton said recently.

Button could have earned more by staying within his comfort zone at Brawn, now Mercedes, even if they were in no hurry to conclude a deal before quickly signing up Michael Schumacher as a replacement.

Instead, he opted for a different adventure. "In your whole career, you are going up against the best in the world, especially when you get to Formula One," he told reporters recently.

"I wanted a new challenge...I wanted to race with McLaren, whom I first actually drove for. It was my first Formula One car and a team that I used to watch when I was a kid. And the history, and what they have achieved in their time in the sport, is immense.

"There are many reasons why I made the switch and for me it's a step forward in my career because it really gives me a buzz and the excitement to achieve again in a very different environment."

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