British F1 legends tip Hamilton over Button for drivers' crown

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Despite being the current world champion, there seem to be few in the F1 racing fraternity prepared to back Jenson Button over his new teammate at McLaren this season.

Two British motorsport legends have tipped Lewis Hamilton to hold a competitive edge over his countryman when the first race begins at Bahrain next Sunday.

"I give Lewis the edge for the first six races because he knows the team and the people and the car," former champion Nigel Mansell told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.
Three time world champion Jackie Stewart echoed this sentiment. "For me Lewis definitely has the advantage. Partly because he knows the team and the culture, partly because he has delivered results in the past and McLaren know they can trust him," said Stewart.

"I still believe that whatever anybody says about number ones and number twos, Lewis will be the natural number one."

With fluctuating conditions making pre-season testing difficult to evaluate, true assessments of pace will have to wait until qualifying at Bahrain - but Mansell believed that Button would eventually challenge once he was comfortable with the new car.

"Jenson will settle down and hopefully prove what a great world champion he is and compete very strongly."
Stewart conceded that one element which may play into Button's hands is a new rule which bans refuelling in the 2010 season.

"There is no doubt the new fuel regulations play into the hands of smooth drivers, and I think Jenson's very good at that. You never see too much steering angle. He doesn't bully a car at all."

Last year Stewart insisted that Button was walking into the lion's den by joining Hamilton at McLaren, but the world champion's former boss claimed that his resolve had been severely underestimated.

"Jenson has a depth that people do not see," explained Ross Brawn. "He has this fluffy exterior that hides the steel inside him.
"You saw that in the second half of the year. The first half of the year he was sublime."