MARTIN BRUNDLE reckons Jenson Button will be delighted to see the back of his big rival Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s move to Mercedes brought an end to his three-season all-Brit McLaren partnership with Button.
The pair’s relationship was a roller-coaster and occasionally stormy as they battled to be not just the world’s best driver but also McLaren’s.
Brundle, who knows a thing or two about scrapping for a share of the spotlight with big-name team-mates, reckons Jenson will flourish now he is McLaren’s main man.
Brundle (right) said: “I would have thought Jenson is really happy to have got rid of Lewis as a team-mate.
“Damon Hill had Alain Prost as a team-mate at Williams.
“Johnny Herbert and I had Michael Schumacher and I had Mika Hakkinen as a team-mate. You are well rid of them.
“Now Jenson has got the team to himself. He has got a rookie – in terms of driving for a front-running team – alongside him instead of Lewis in Sergio Perez.
“Jenson knows how to win poles, races and championships and his team-mate has got none of that or had none of the spotlight.
“Jenson is miles better off. There are still a lot of challenges for Jenson – maybe even more than when he joined McLaren.
“Because if Hamilton does the business at Mercedes that puts the pressure on Jenson, who does also have a kid on the way up in Checo (Perez) that he has to take on, so he might have the pressure doubly.”
Damon Hill believes that Button could be the man to end Sebastian Vettel’s three-year reign as F1 champ and regain the title he won in 2009. Hill, the 1996 F1 champ, said: “I think he’s in a very good spot, Jenson. He’s paid his dues at McLaren.
“He’s not got the issue Lewis Hamilton has in that he knows what it is like on the other side of the fence.
“But Hamilton is there for the first time after 14 years with McLaren.
“Jenson knows that McLaren is a good place to be, he is with a good team and he’s going to get a lot of support.
“He has a relatively inexper- ienced team-mate and I think that he’s confident with how he will compete against him.
“I would say he is a dark horse for the championship.”
Johnny Herbert reckons Hamilton’s move into the unknown makes it advantage Button in the battle of the Brits ahead of tomorrow’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Herbert said: “I totally agree. I think Jenson is in a better position than Lewis, in many regards.
“I’m still to see Mercedes be a team that can develop. We have yet to see if that can happen yet.”