Anyone looking for cracks in the public facade of bonhomie between McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button would have been hard-pushed to spot them in the wake of the Chinese GP.
Even though Button moved 2-0 ahead in terms of wins, having already upped his qualifying superiority to 3-1 on Saturday, Hamilton was quick to acknowledge his countryman’s Shanghai success, congratulating him warmly ahead of the podium celebration and then praising his side of the McLaren garage in the ensuing press conference.
“Jenson did an incredible job and, yes, he made the better choice on the tyres,” the 2008 world champion said of his successor. “I think we did an awesome job between us both, and I am very happy that we could get a one-two, the first this year and, hopefully, the first of many.
While Button’s race had been relatively straightforward once he opted not to take intermediate tyres during a second lap rain shower, Hamilton was forced to fight his way back up the order. He was among the fastest drivers on intermediate rubber, but insisted that his run had not be an easy one.
“It was definitely an exciting race,” he said. “I just felt that, every time I made up the places, somehow I would lose them again. If I made up three places, I would lose two. Make them up again and I would lose one, so it was very hard, a very tough race, but I am very happy with the result.”
Running 1-2 in the closing stages, the McLaren pair traded lap times. But the conditions made it tricky on worn tyres, with the team warning both to take it easy on the run to the flag.
“Yeah, it was very tough for me at the end,” Hamilton conceded. “The same as Jenson, my tyres were finished. I came into the pits, I think, a lap or two earlier than him and pushed as hard as I could to close the gap, but I think I ruined the tyres and he started to pull away. At the end, he started to struggle, but I was struggling too. I was closing a little bit, and he had an off, but it was very similar times.”