SilverstoneThe Formula One title battle between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton could boil over in Sunday's British Grand Prix, former world champion and fellow Briton Damon Hill said on Monday. Britain's two world champions are one-two in the standings for leaders McLaren after winning two races each this season.
Hamilton, the 2008 champion, leads current title holder Button by six points at the halfway point. "Jenson will not be letting Lewis get away with anything," said 1996 world champion Hill before giving reporters a tyre-squealing, stomach-clenching ride around the new Silverstone circuit. "Between the two British drivers in possibly the best car, you are going to have a very close and fascinating battle which is great for everyone. "It's just been on simmer at the moment. It's going to start to boil over," added Hill, a winner at Silverstone in 1994.
"This could be the start of the rest of the season." Five drivers have led the standings after nine of the 19 races, with the battle for the title still wide open and everything to play for. "The preliminaries are over and from now on the clock is definitely ticking," said Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club that owns Silverstone. "If you're not in the frame now, you are going to be watching it slip out of your fingers. And they are warmed up, they know their position in the whole thing and there's only room for one guy to go through."
Hill, who won his crown with Williams, said he was delighted with Button's performance after former champions and critics alike had warned him that he was making a big mistake in leaving Brawn to join what was seen as Hamilton's team. He added that he would not be surprised to see him become the first Briton to win back-to-back titles. "He's obviously got enormous talent," he said of the 30-year-old who has yet to stand on his home podium in more than a decade in Formula One.
"He's someone who seems to be really relishing having made the right decision and being in the right place against everyone else's better judgment. "He's proved everyone wrong I think by going to McLaren. He's shown that he is quality in depth as a driver and also mature." Hill said Button had also been good for his team, who were sometimes seen in the past as grey and overly controlling under the leadership of Ron Dennis, who handed over last year to Martin Whitmarsh.
"His attitude to the sport, his personality has added something to McLaren," said the Briton. "I think McLaren need someone like Jenson, someone who is a litle bit laid back but seriously competitive. "I think that's good for them."