Button 'is not mad' to join McLaren

Alonso, who had a stormy time himself in the team after having won two titles, says he can understand the defending champion needs challenges.

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After his own troubled year at McLaren and much-reported differences with teammate Lewis Hamilton, it would be easy for Fernando Alonso to say Jenson Button was mad to be throwing in his hat with the British team for his championship defence. The Briton made the switch to McLaren to partner the 2008 champion Hamilton despite winning the drivers' title with Brawn GP last year.

In 2007, Alonso made a similar move to McLaren after winning two titles at Renault. But he complained that Hamilton - then a rookie - was favoured and returned to Renault after a stormy year. The Spaniard refused yesterday to respond to jibes from Hamilton, who claimed he "blew him away" when they were teammates. "If I have to answer what he says, I will use up too much time. So I better not," said Alonso.

"There will be some confrontation and bad things said, but we are starting a new championship now and all very happy with our teams and hopefully it will be a very good fight on the track. "At that time, McLaren seemed a good choice and I was happy to be there. Jenson looked for a new challenge after Brawn. McLaren are a very competitive team. "Everyone has the right choice to make at the right time. He is happy, he is not mad, for sure."

Alonso expects the McLaren pair to be challenging for the title, but he and Felipe Massa will also work together to compete. "After 2009, the changes in the performance on the grid lead us to say you can't predict anything," he added. "We talk about Button, Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and us, but Red Bull are to be included in the rivals. "They had a wonderful 2009 championship. "But I think with Felipe, we can be a strong pair. I have never asked to be No 1 for any team in my career. What I don't want to be, for sure, is No 2. That happened sometimes in 2007.

"What I do is work 110 per cent with the team. If the team is not working 110 per cent it's not right. We work as a group and I'll push everyone to do the best job possible as they push me to do the best job possible."