McLaren drivers put England on top of F1 world

Valencia: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button intend to give English fans something to smile about at Silverstone next month after the country’s soccer World Cup flop in South Africa.

The McLaren drivers, both Formula One world champions, arrive at the British Grand Prix first and second in the championship respectively and with every chance of finishing one-two in the race that marks the halfway point of the season.

“We’ll do what we can,” 2009 champion Button told Reuters after a Sunday overshadowed by England’s 4-1 World Cup defeat to Germany in South Africa.

That match started straight after the race in Valencia, with both drivers following the action closely, and the British Grand Prix on July 11 will be just before the World Cup final that England had hoped to be part of.

“It’s tough that we are out of the World Cup so early...but there you go,” added Button. “We are out and I’m sure for a few days the British public will be very down but hopefully we can pick them up a little bit in two weeks’ time.

“I am looking for a very special weekend and a fun weekend. Two British world champions first and second in the championship, I don’t know if that has ever happened before.”

Hamilton said he could imagine how the England players must be feeling from his own experience of losing the F1 title battle by a single point.

“I know what it’s like to put your all into something and it just doesn’t come together, and you see your dreams and everything you worked for just fall through your fingers,” he told Reuters. “It’s like the world championship I lost in 2007. It’s tough.”

Step Up

Championship leaders McLaren started last weekend in damage limitation mode, knowing their rivals had major upgrades to their cars while their next big step up is scheduled for Silverstone.

They left well satisfied with Hamilton’s second place and Button’s third behind Red Bull’s German winner Sebastian Vettel.

The other Red Bull, driven by Australian Mark Webber, crashed while Mercedes and Ferrari were both scuppered by a controversial safety car period.

“Going to Silverstone we are pretty confident that with an upgrade we can hopefully challenge the Red Bulls,” said Button. “It’s an upgrade that should suit that circuit but also an upgrade in an area where I think we are weak at the moment.”

Button went to Silverstone leading the championship with Brawn GP last year but his hopes of a first podium appearance there swiftly evaporated. This time he is expecting a lot more.

“I love Silverstone,” he said. “Support there will be great and I don’t feel under pressure in any way this year so I’m very excited about the race and I think we can have a really good result.

He and Hamilton both shrugged off any suggestion that they could suffer, like England’s unhappy World Cup players, from the burden of expectation.

“(We) have achieved a lot in the sport already, we are used to having pressure on our shoulders from outside and within,” said Button. “I won’t feel under pressure more so there than anywhere else. I don’t think so.

“I am really excited about getting there and seeing so many British fans. I really am, about seeing them in the grandstands, loads of Union Jacks. I think this year it’s going to be more special than it has been for a long, long time.”

Bureau Report

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