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Formula 1: Jenson Button vows to keep his No 1 status

Jenson Button has fired the first salvo of the new year by saying that his resolution is to "keep the number one" on his car in 2010 at the expense of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

He added that he was "extremely positive" and "more motivated than ever" having officially begun work at his new team on Jan 1.

It may be stating the blindingly obvious but such platitudes will have to do for now as a mouthwatering new Formula One season rumbles into gear.

McLaren, who have signed Button to drive alongside 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton in a fascinating clash of styles, launch their new car, the MP4-25, later this month ahead of the first pre-season test in Valencia on Feb 1.

Interest in the new season, which begins in Bahrain on March 14, has been piqued by the return of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who is stepping out of retirement to drive for Mercedes at the age of 41, and the switch to Ferrari of two-time champion Fernando Alonso.

"My aim is to keep the number one on my car for as long as possible, but it is a little early to start talking about the world championship," Button said.

"Having no testing until the first week of February is something of a mixed blessing – it gives me the time to really get to know the guys at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and to properly integrate myself into the team – which I am absolutely committed to doing – but, equally, it's another month without any running in the car – and getting miles under my belt will be crucial ahead of the first race."

Hamilton, who turns 25 on Thursday, revealed the two men had not met since Button was announced as a McLaren driver in November.

"We've both been to [the McLaren factory] for our seat fittings – but they were on different days," he said. "We'll be sharing the pre-season testing equally, and it will be important to keep a crossover of information between us to make sure we are both pulling in the right direction.

"You can never take competitiveness for granted in Formula One – we saw that last year – so our common goal has to be to make MP4-25 a winning proposition as quickly as possible."

Poland's Robert Kubica has confirmed he will stay with Renault for the 2010 season following talks with Luxembourg private investment group Genii Capital, which now owns 75 per cent of the team.