Date:Wednesday September 12 2012
At the back end of last month, we asked the question whether McLaren should now back Lewis Hamilton for the F1 World Championship.
What we meant asking that question was whether or not Jenson Button should now take the supporting role in the team, like Felipe Massa does with Ferrari.
In the Italian Grand Prix, we saw a clear indication of where Massa ranks in the team, as soon as Alonso was behind him on the track, Massa slowed and surrendered the position to his team-mate.
In the past we've also seen Massa, try tyre strategies ahead of Alonso, to maximise the Spaniard's chances of taking home the maximum points available.
This tactic works up and down the pit-lane and wins teams championships and invariable those that leave their drivers to race lose titles [McLaren - 2007 just one recent example].
So with Button at that stage 41 points behind Lewis Hamilton and trailing championship leader Fernando Alonso by 88 points, the VF1 front page poll asked: Should McLaren back Hamilton for the title?
It was quite easy to say that the users were split!
Yes, Button should support him received 50% of the vote, whilst No, Button should race his own championship took the other half of the vote.
Those who voted no would have felt justified when F1 returned from the summer break in Belgium, with Hamilton failing to score and Button taking the victory.
That left Button just 16 points behind Hamilton, with the lead to Alonso closed to 63 points.
But the pendulum swung again following the Italian Grand Prix, with Button retiring and Hamilton taking victory, the margin between the two team-mates was restored to 41 points, while Alonso's lead over Button was extended to 78 points.
With 175 points to potentially play for the championship does remain wide open, mathematically at least for both drivers and whilst that remains the case, McLaren will stick with their ethos of letting their drivers race.
'At the moment, the dynamics are right within the team and it will be some time before we change our approach.' McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC.
Jenson Button will also not be taking the decision into his own hands just yet adding: 'I'm out to race. I think Lewis doesn't need my help.'
'Lewis is doing a great job as it is, As always, I go out to win. I'm not going to go out and pedal round and sit behind my team-mate.'
Is it the right tactic to make?
If Hamilton signed a new contract with McLaren tomorrow would he gain support more support in his title quest?
Date:Wednesday September 12 2012
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