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FEBRUARY 2, 2004

Ron Dennis talks about drivers

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says that he believes that both David Coulthard and Jenson Button have the potential to be Formula 1 World Champions - even if the team will probably not be running Coulthard in 2005.

"David is a tremendous racing driver," said Dennis. "There is no questioon about it. He is more than capable of driving a single fast lap. He has repeatedly done it in the past but last year it was very apparent more times that he would like that he didn't get it right when it counted. I compare it to a golfer who is strugging with his putting. We tried everything. We do believe that he will do a good job this year and we are absolutely sure that he will be employed - possibly by McLaren in one form or another - in 2005.

"He has everything to gain from winning the World Championship."

Dennis said that he believes that there are two British drivers in F1 with the ability to win the World Championship.

"You cannot be nationalistic in Formula 1 but Britain at the moment has two guys who can be World Champion David Coulthard and Jenson Button. We also have a tremendous belief in Lewis Hamilton."

Hamilton has been a McLaren protege since he was 13 years old. He is now 19 and this year will compete with Manor Motorsport in the Formula 3 Euroseries, racing a Dallara-Mercedes-Benz. He made his Formula 3 debut last year in Macau and was immediately a frontrunner and took pole at the Korean F3 race which followed.

Before moving to Formula 3 Hamilton won 10 races on his way to the British Formula Renault title.

Hamilton's career is guided by Dennis and McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh although the day-to-day management is looked after by his father Anthony.