McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is confident that there will be a harmonious relationship between 2010 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and that the team can give both an equal chance to win.
Hamilton's partnership with Fernando Alonso in 2007 was famously fractious, and reminiscent of the extreme tension between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost when they were paired at McLaren in the late 1980s. But Whitmarsh has no concerns about balancing the demands of the two World Champions who will line up for McLaren next year.
"It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers – and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula 1," he said. "Moreover, I'm confident that we'll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson's and Lewis' complementary skill-sets. Our engineers are already looking forward to working with Jenson, and I'm convinced that such a strong and dynamic driver lineup will make us an even more complete and competitive operation. Now we have to provide Jenson and Lewis with race-winning machinery.
"We're ambitious, we're motivated and we're hungrier than ever. We make no secret of our ambition for next year: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes wants to win both World Championships – and, with Jenson and Lewis, we believe we're better equipped than any other team in the pit lane to do exactly that."
Button had been expected to stay with the Brawn team – now taken over by Mercedes – following his championship success with Ross Brawn's squad, but was unable to agree to an acceptable deal. Whitmarsh insisted that Button's team switch should not be regarded as financially motivated.
"I want to make it clear that Jenson's decision to join us was in no way motivated by money," he said. "We'll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere, and that fact is a reflection of not only Jenson's belief in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes but also his desire and ambition to build on the phenomenal results he achieved during the 2009 season."
The team boss also paid tribute to outgoing driver Heikki Kovalainen's efforts during his difficult McLaren sojourn. The Finn took his first grand prix win with the team in Hungary last year, but was often unable to match Hamilton.
"I also want to thank Heikki for his selfless contribution over the past two years," Whitmarsh said. "As well as being very quick, Heikki was and remains a great character whom we'll all miss considerably. It goes without saying that we wish him all the best for next season, and would be very pleased if he were to secure a good drive for 2010."