Hamilton: Button has built strong team around him
A key to Jenson Button's success last season was his smart relationship with technical members of the McLaren team.
That is the claim of Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was uncharacteristically beaten to the chequered flag as his team's most successful driver in 2011.
Despite criticism that he was entering "the lion's den" by becoming Hamilton's teammate in 2010, 31-year-old Button has been hailed "excellent" by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo after trailing only world champion Sebastian Vettel in the points standings last year.
Fellow Briton Hamilton, meanwhile, had a tumultuous season on and off the track, trailing Button by the end of the year by 43 points.
"Jenson is very quick and he's gathered a strong team of technicians around him," London's Telegraph quotes Hamilton as having told La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.
"I'd like to be ahead of him all the time, and I'm not happy if the opposite happens.
"However, psychologically it's absolutely not a problem. Besides, he's an open and cheerful guy who I get along with. It would be nice to fight for the 2012 championship with him -- that's just up to McLaren," added Hamilton.
The Mercedes-powered team had a less than ideal start to 2011, experimenting with and then abandoning just before the first race a highly-complicated exhaust system.
Hamilton thinks Red Bull's 2012 car will again set the benchmark.
"It will be up to us to be able to surpass it," said the 2008 world champion. "From what I've seen, however, the new McLaren seems a lot better than last year's."