By Nick Harris
6 March 2010
Martin Brundle has tipped Lewis Hamilton to come out on top in the team-mate power struggle with compatriot Jenson Button at McLaren during the forthcoming F1 season because Hamilton is “acrobatic” whereas Button “really struggles if the car’s not purring.”
Brundle, a former Formula 1 driver who will be a key part of the BBC’s F1 coverage when the 2010 season starts next weekend in Bahrain, was asked where he’d place his money in a head-to-head for the year. Without hesitation he replied: “Lewis”. He added that having them in the same team was good for the sport and good for British motor racing.
“We’re talking about it now because they’re head to head,” he said. “And there will be a winner and there will be a loser, and there will be tears. The honeymoon will last a very short amount of time.
“Jenson looks good and is not a world champion for no good reason. But it’s hard to win back-to-back championships. I think Lewis will be massively motivated to get the No1 back on his car. For me there’s a bigger difference, and that is no refueling this year, which will mean cars that are five seconds per lap slower at the beginning of the race than at the end because of a fat fuel load; 225 litres on board. And I think the cars will change through the race. And Lewis is a more acrobatic driver in that he can adapt to a car.
“Jenson showed us last year that he really struggles if the car’s not purring. He’s got such a precise driving style that if the car won’t live with that style he’s got nowhere to go. Having said that, if it turns out to be about minding your breaks and your tyres and your fuel consumption, then it will come towards Jenson.”
Brundle welcomes the prospect of the return of Michael Schumacher to the sport. “I think he got through his to-do list in three months when he retired. Then he got bored, started riding motorbikes, bounced down the track on his head at 120mph. He still talks to you by moving his shoulders and his eyes rather than his neck! He’s lucky he didn’t end up in a wheelchair with the accident he had.
“I said to him ‘What are you riding bikes on track for? You’re crazy.’ He said ‘I’ve only had 12 accidents. It’s fine.’ And he meant it. He said it thought that it was fine to have 12 accidents.
“How do act like a 65-year-old [retiree] when you’re 38-years-old? You’ve achieved everything you wanted to achieve. Your retired. You’ve got a chunk of change in the bank but you’re only 38 years old. Where does all that adrenaline and all that determination go? You can’t just park it. Some people start getting into mischief, playing around, not that Michael’s done that. He’s smart enough to think ‘I need to re-engage with Formula 1.’
“He tops every league table in Formula 1 by miles. Statistically he’s easily the best ever. Seven world championships, 91 victories. Why does he need to risk his life in a Formula 1 car? Because he loves driving racing cars, and we’re delighted to see him back.
“He won’t be embarrassed but these kids [the other drivers] are just over half his age. And when Michael’s going into the first turn thinking ‘It’s 50-50, I’ll go for it’, the kids won’t even be bothering to compute the risks. They go for it anyway.”
As for the drivers’ and constructors’ titles, Brundle added: “There are four that are going to win the two championships [between them], which is Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull but there are a lot of other fast cars out there as well. We’ve got so many rivalries; McLaren and Mercedes Benz have split; you’ve got Hamilton versus Button; Schumacher versus everybody from what I can work out and it’s going to be quite spectacular. I can’t wait.”
Brundle was talking on Thursday at the launch of the Jaguar Academy of Sport, where he shared a podium with Dave Brailsford, who shared his thoughts on the 2010 Tour de France and other matters.
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