Hamilton hails ‘fantastic’ relationship with Button

Lewis Hamilton says he has a “fantastic” relationship with McLaren teammate and fellow Briton Jenson Button — the man who succeeded him as Formula One world champion.

“The relationship that I have with Jenson is fantastic,” Hamilton said on Tuesday. “We got off on the right foot and I am happy for him when he wins and he is happy for me when I am ahead.

“Clearly we want to beat each other but generally we are very professional about it.”

Button and Hamilton enjoyed a 1-2 finish last Sunday in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Button claimed his second win in four races for his new team, while Hamilton settled for a second podium finish of 2010.

“The better the driver you have alongside you the harder it is and the pressure is on your shoulders,” the 25-year-old Hamilton said.

“Having someone like Jenson alongside you is not easy and to beat a world champion after being a world champion and to try to take that championship away — it is as hard as it can get.”

Hamilton was speaking in South Africa at a sponsor’s event for a local technology provider at the Kyalami race track.

Although he has enjoyed a subdued start to the season compared to his new teammate, Hamilton said he was enjoying a more hands-off approach from F1 rulemakers FIA and the race stewards.

“Racing stewards this year have been the best that I have probably experienced in Formula One, I think,” he said. “More racing has been out there. You know there are drivers who are not afraid to have a real battle with someone without having the worry of receiving the penalty.”

Hamilton made a flying visit to South Africa on his way back to Europe for the Spain Grand Prix, scheduled for just over two weeks’ time. The Englishman said it was unlikely he would be back for the Soccer World Cup, which kicks off on June 11.

“I really would love to come and I have been invited,” Hamilton said. “It is really trying to fit it into the schedule. If the guys give me the time then I would love to come. I love it over here.” — Sapa-AP

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