McLaren unveiled its 2010 challenger, the MP4-25, with high hopes that it will be the car to beat this year. The team will have a star driver lineup in Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to tackle the challenge. Here's what the new driving duo had to say during the launch of the new car.
Q. Jenson, looking forward to the season?
Jenson Button: It's been a very busy January to make sure that I really feel a part of this team. Moving to a new team is always difficult and it's a big change and we struggle with change a little bit. But they really have welcomed me and it's been a really good atmosphere. It's nice to finally see the car as one whole piece.
I'm looking forward to the season. We don't want to get too carried away yet. We have a lot of testing in front of us, a lot of hard work before we get to the first race. I'm excited, the most excited I've ever been coming into a season. It's a massive challenge for me and one I'm really looking forward to.
Q. Lewis, you've often said Michael Schumacher is the one man you would have liked to race again. Do you think Michael is going to be the man to beat for you this season?
LH: I don't think I've ever actually said it – I think if you read the reports I said I always wanted to race Ayrton. While growing up and watching F1, I was finally there and thinking I would have a chance to race Michael but he left. I did get the chance to be on the same track as him on a couple of days, which was such a pleasure to see, the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher pulling out of the pits ahead of me. It was pretty awesome.
Now to be on the same grid as him, see him and the mirrors or in front, it's going to be very special. For me it is going to be a great experience.
Q. How difficult will it be for either of you going up against a one man team like everybody is expecting Mercedes to be this year?
JB: I am hoping that is not the case and I am sure Nico or Michael are hoping that it is not the case, if you are talking about that team. Formula 1 is about a team effort and you need both drivers to work together to improve the car. If you do it on your own it's not going to work. I don't think any drivers on this grid would choose a number two role. I can't see it happening and I don't think it will be the case this year.
Q. Jenson, how do you think your rivalry with Lewis will affect your work?
JB: For us, as I keep saying, it is so important for us to be working together as a team or you won't get a British World Champion at the end of the year. For us to work as a team is key working together and learning from each other. We have so much experience of working in F1, positives and negatives, we've both been in different situations.
You see at the end of the year what happens, and who did a better job after those 19 races. There is no use thinking that far into the future, it will be a big mistake, you have to think of now and how we make this car as quick as we can.
LH: I don't think any of you should forget he is the World Champion and that he's been welcomed into this team. I wouldn't believe everything you read.
Q. Lewis, do you regret the loss of KERS this season?
LH: No, not really. It doesn't bother me having it or not. It could be nicer to not have it, because the car will be a lot nicer to drive.
JB: For me, driving without KERS in 2009 was frustrating, because you had to change strategy to whatever these guys would do. And if they were starting just behind you at the first corner you were not going to come first. I am happy that it is equal across the field and that is important, if everyone has got KERS it is a great system and the reason behind having the system – but not if it's just a few teams.
Q. Jenson, do you believe Mercedes will be stronger this year?
JB: First of all, I do think they will be strong in 2010. They were World Champions and we were World Champions together in 2009, I don't think they will be at the back of the field, whether it is as competitive or more competitive, nobody knows who will be at the front. They will be there or thereabouts. For me I had a great relationship with the team and for me it was the decision to move teams because I wanted a new challenge.
When you win the championship, you have achieved your dream and your initial goal, and after that I was thinking where do I go from here? The decision was to move to McLaren, and take up this new challenge. It has really spurred me on, I go into this season so much more excited than any other season I've been in Formula 1.
I've become a much stronger person and stronger driver with what happened last year. I'm working with the team already. There are some areas that I've never really worked on before. When we get to the first race I'm gonna make sure I'm 100 percent ready. I don't want any excuses. The first race in Bahrain is a race I'm looking to be competitive in.