Button surprised by Hamilton’s McLaren criticisms

McLaren driver Jenson Button says former teammate Lewis Hamilton

could not be more wrong in his criticisms of the team and how it

treats its drivers.

Hamilton, who switched to Mercedes this season, has said several

times since his move that his new team gives drivers more freedom,

puts fewer demands upon them for sponsorship appearances and allows

them more time to themselves.

”I was very, very surprised to hear that,” Button said

Thursday when asked about Hamilton’s comments. ”The freedom I have

in this team is phenomenal.

”It’s so not like that. It’s a very open team, free team, and a

team that will do anything for you.”

Button said that McLaren, unlike Mercedes, cannot use massive

revenues from its road car sales to bankroll its F1 operations and

therefore needs to work harder to cultivate and retain


”In this team, you work, you have to work, and perhaps harder

than in other teams,” Button said. ”Initially when I came to the

team, it was a shock. You learn to understand, to adapt – that is

the job.”

As hard as McLaren may work for its sponsors, they have lost

their biggest one, with the team confirming Thursday that title

sponsor Vodafone will leave at the end of this season.

The team said a new major sponsor had been decided and would be

announced at the end of the season.

Among the potential replacement sponsors are Honda – with

speculation growing that the Japanese manufacturer will return as

an F1 engine supplier next season – and Mexican communications

group Telmex – which currently sponsors Sauber but may be lured to

follow driver Sergio Perez to McLaren.