F1 / Reaction / Buttons Move To Mclaren 19 11 2009

Button's move to McLaren (19/11/2009)

Jenson Button believes that a move to McLaren is his best chance of successfully defending his drivers' title but our analysis suggests otherwise.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button


Whether Jenson Button’s move to McLaren is motivated by money or a belief that the McLaren package will be superior to that of Brawn’s is a debatable point. Currently best priced at 9.0 for next year’s drivers’ championship, there are several reasons for suggesting Button will struggle to deliver.

Since Fangio successfully switched teams and defended his title back in the 50’s when Formula One bore little resemblance to what it is today, eight defending champions have moved to a new team and none have successfully retained the title. In the past 20 years, Alain Prost (1990), Michael Schumacher (1996), Damon Hill (1997) and Fernando Alonso (2007) have all tried and failed.

Another factor that counts against Button, or any other driver starting for a new team, is that in the past 20 years, only five of the 177 drivers in their first season for a team have managed to win either of the first two races of the season and Michael Schumacher (2003) is the only champion not to have won one of the first two races of the season. 16 of the 20 won the opening race and two of those that didn’t failed to finish the race.

18 of the past 20 champions drove for the same team as they did the previous season and, as Brawn was born out of Honda, we’d put Jenson Button in that category. The two exceptions were Alain Prost for Ferrari in 1993 and Kimi Raikkonen for the same team 14 years later. Raikkonen was the pre-season favourite that year closely followed by Alonso who, as previously mentioned, was also driving for a new team, so there was a reasonable chance the sequence would be broken.

Once the full line-up becomes available, we'll take a closer look at the championship contenders for 2010.

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