By Damian Reilly
Both F1 champs are English and shared common characteristics - McLaren's top boss.
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are “the closest of friends”, according to McLaren team boss Ron Dennis.
Asked about rumours that the pair, who both race for McLaren, were not friends, Dennis said not only did they they get on “brilliantly”, but they played chess together.
“One thing they can never conceal is body language. And you can see these guys. Earlier, they were sat downstairs playing chess. Which was amusing because I don’t think either of them has ever played chess before. You can see in their body language, you hear in their banter, these two guys are great friends,” he said.
Dennis attributed their friendship to the fact both are English and added that as a result they shared common characteristics.
“The big differential in drivers is they normally carry with them very strong cultural elements. We have got two drivers from the same nationality. It is going to go pretty smoothly unless they are strange guys because they understand how it works. These guys understand, they are both world champions, they have nothing to prove to each other, other than getting out of the car and saying ‘I gave it 100 percent.’ At the end of the season it might be slightly different, but right now they are doing a great job, they are great friends, and they are really focussing on beating the competition.”
Referring to previous seasons in which McLaren drivers with different nationlities failed to get along – Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna – Dennis said:
“When you have got a Frenchman with a Brazilian, you are going to have fireworks. When you have got a Spaniard with a Brit, you are going to have fireworks. Because they are culturally different, brought up with different theories, different values, different ethics, etcetera. And you are always going to have difficulty managing it.”
Asked which of his current drivers was the quickest, Dennis said it was too early to make judgements.
He said: “We pride ourselves on giving exactly the same equipment to both our drivers. These guys have competed together once, and the outcome of this first race was the result of qualifying and everyone feeling their way. It is far, far too premature (to make a judgement).
“On Friday they almost matched each other in practice in Bahrain. With testing you can only test with one car and it is difficult to make comparisons, but they are very equal.”