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Button and Hamilton forced into bet on who’ll come out on top
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Button and Hamilton forced into bet on who’ll come out on top
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jul 2010   |  1:50 pm GMT  |  126 comments

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were today challenged by an 11 year old boy to arrange a bet between themselves as to who will come out on top in the world championship.

11 year old Carl tackles Lewis and Jenson


The challenge, from 11 year old Carl Hillis, came during a press conference organised by British GP sponsor Santander, which I was hosting. The event took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Carl has been a patient there most of his life. He is writing an article for the hospital magazine and wanted to know what the loser would have to do if he lost.

Jenson and Lewis agreed that they should have a wager on the outcome and asked Carl what he suggested. He said that the loser, “Should flush his head down the loo!” which cracked Button up. Somehow I think they will come up with something less onerous.

There was another funny moment when I asked the pair about their relationship, given that many people seem to think it will break down at some point. I asked if there were any signs yet that the current pairing of two world champions was heading the way of the ill fated partnership between Senna and Prost.

Hamilton said that it all looked so friendly between them because they are such good actors. “We’re going to Hollywood next,” shouted Button.

“He’s going to Hollywood, I’m going to Bollywood,” said Hamilton.

The pair spoke about the race this weekend, about the major upgrade McLaren is bringing in the form of a blown diffuser and about the sense of calm confidence in the team at the moment.

“I think if you saw the last race, a few cars had new parts and mostly this special blown diffuser that Red Bull rocked up with at the start of the season,” Button said. “They have been working on their update kits and they are a race ahead of us. They came out very strong but I still think we did a very good job in Valencia to get two cars on the podium.”

They also responded to Damon Hill’s assertion that Button is the tortoise and Hamilton the hare in this relationship.

“It’s very interesting to know how past world champions talk about the present drivers, ” said Hamilton through clenched teeth. “We’ll see if it’s true or not and if they know what they’re talking about.”

I’ve seen the pair of them behind closed doors and the relationship is good. There is no doubt that they both realise that to feud would be counterproductive. When the pressure is on at the end of the season, then thinsg might get a little more tense, but Button’s laid back character and ability to take it on the chin when a team mate is faster certainly helps smooth things along.

Damon Hill is the latest in a string of people to suggest that the love-in will end soon, but I’ve not seen a trigger for a break down in relations yet.

McLaren will face stiff opposition from Red Bull this weekend – this is a circuit which will really suit the Red Bull car and Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are both mighty around Silverstone. It should be a fantastic scrap for pole and the win.

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126 Comments
  1. benji says:

    hi james,dont you feel we are asking for trouble by incessantly putting to these two the state of thier relationship.wouldnt it be better to just keep fingers crossed and hope it works out rather than have people like damon hill formenting trouble?he should know better than this.anyway have you heard any inside info ala the mclarens expected performance from the new upgrades.would like to know.thanks

    1. Nick F says:

      He is a journalist you know. :-)

      You have to be realistic. If Button and Hamilton have a crash into turn one at Silverstone and then have a public punch up over it, the traffic to formula 1 websites and the viewing figures for the next race will go up 50%.

      Historically many team mates have had problems and so its a natural thing to talk about.

      The relationship between 2 men is a fundamentally easier story to understand than whether exhaust gases are blown into some thing called a diffuser. The average member of the public will understand it whilst they won’t get the technical aspects of the sport. I mean, hell the TV news often don’t even report the sport properly. I’m glad they get rid of the whole qualifying on different fuel levels. The TV news just couldn’t cope with that.

      I’m a bit of a Mclaren fan so I hope everything stays good between them. I think that is likely, although it might get a little tense towards the end of the season depending on how things go.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        I am with Hill on this one. Turkey was just a tip of the iceberg and my bet is that JA’s blue eyed boy Jenson will be the first one to crack: you can’t be that cool forever – its just not human :) As Lewis “correctly” said, they are both very good actors – it may have come out as a joke, but i think its more true than most of us want to believe it to be.

      2. Brace says:

        You are ridiculous. If there are actors in F1 they are Hamilton and Vettel.
        Hamilton especially is more concerned about how he comes across in his interviews then about what he actually says.

      3. mtb says:

        Brace

        Button – aka Hamilton’s rear-gunner – is at McLaren primariliy for his marketability. Anyone who was following F1 in 2000 could tell you how image conscious Button is.

      4. mtb says:

        The media may have bought the official McLaren story on what happened at Turkey, but the reality is that Jenson has not qualms about overtaking a team-mate who, like himself, has been instructed to ‘conserve fuel’.

        A modern-day Didier Pironi…

    2. Alex Cooper says:

      As much as I admire Damon Hill, his comments this week have all been in order to get column inches for Silverstone. He did the same thing last year.

      I really admire the way that Whitmarsh and McLaren are handling their drivers. A complete contrast to the Red Bull duo.

      1. benji says:

        i do accept that its important to create column inches.but having been a racing driver before he understand the delicate situation that exists amongst team mates.therefore such comments boiling over et al are wholly unnecessary.it in my opinion is akin to planting seeds of doubt and uncertianty where they may not already exist.cue the little child daring them to say who`ll come out on top etc.granted his youth.but i humbly feel testing/baiting a mans character is unfair.as how he reacts cannot be known in advance.

  2. iceman says:

    As you say James, Jenson’s laid-back attitude is helping smooth things along while he’s the one who’s slightly behind. But what if Hamilton has some problems later in the season, or Jenson finds a qualifying set-up he really likes, and Lewis starts coming second? Would he be able to accept it in the same way?

    1. guy says:

      I think this happened at races 2 to 4 at the start of the season and he was very complimentary to jenson – to his credit.

      1. iceman says:

        You’re right that’s certainly a good sign. However Lewis finished ahead of Jenson in Malaysia, and I’m sure he’ll have felt that with better luck he could have had the advantage in Australia and China too. Things could be different if similar results start happening without the influence of outside factors like weather.

    2. kenny5 says:

      Jenson is cool and will have no bother dealing with defeat. — Wanst barrichello faster than him for most of his title run-in last year?? If only Brawn had given barrichello a reliable car at the start of the year we could have seen Jenson wally in glorious defeat. We know he can do it. What a hero.

      1. Wallers says:

        If that were true Williams would have a world champion in their car this year.

      2. mtb says:

        Barrichello was fairly close to Button throughout their four years together at Honda/Brawn.

      3. mtb says:

        “Jenson is cool and will have no bother dealing with defeat.”

        He didn’t sound so cool on the pit-to-car radio at Hockenheim last year. And what about his sulk in Barcelona because he couldn’t get past Schumacher?

  3. DanielH says:

    James it would be interesting if you did a post on the PR and marketing events that the drivers have to attend as part of their duties (such as the press conference above).

    I’ve just seen Nico Hulkenburg at a corporate event arranged by one of Williams’ sponsors in Canary Wharf. He was interviewed for a good 15 minutes in front of about 10 people! It all seems a bit of a waste of time (though a good opportunity to see three Williams from ’08 to ’10 close up) and I’m sure the drivers must hate it. If he did hate it though, he hid it well — he comes across as very self-assured without any hint of cockiness.

    1. HowardHughes says:

      I once wandered into a marquee in Canary Wharf during the motor show there in 2004 and ended up having a short chat with Frank Williams. Made my day it did!

  4. Tom says:

    Agree James – I just don’t see this being a difficult relationship. They will have their moments, they will disagree, but actually they’ll both get on with it and it seems to be as good as a relationship between drivers as you could hope for.

  5. C Pitter says:

    “but Button’s laid back character and ability to take it on the chin when a team mate is faster certainly helps smooth things along.”

    You always put a little bit of positivity and praise for Button over and above Hamilton – it is clear who is your favourite, as with most British journalists.

    It’s a real shame as Hamilton is a great character too (I’ve met him a couple of times) and is the best with his fans.

    Never mind, maybe when he retires, he will get the praise he deserves.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      I’m a huge Hamilton and Button fan and I don’t see James’ comments as anti anyone. Lewis gets plenty of praise and the fact that James comments on Jenson’s laid back attitude as a pacifying factor surely doesn’t discount Lewis. If Lewis was inclined to get his back up he surely would have done so in a big way in 2007. For the most part he left all of that nonsense up to his team mate that year.

    2. michael grievson says:

      I disagree.

    3. Smiley says:

      It’s not praise for Button or a slight against Hamilton, its an observation that you can’t have two drivers in a team with the same driven character. There were two Hamiltons (or two Alonsos depending on how you want to look at it) in McLaren in 2007 and the outcome of that relationship is well known.

      Also, it’s clear Hamilton is a great talent (not that I have met him or anything) and gets plenty of praise both in the written press and on TV so don’t understand what praise you are expecting to see.

    4. Athlander says:

      Maybe James Allen should have added that Hamilton’s ability to handle being faster than Button has also helped (maybe because he doesn’t gloat?), because I have seen absolutely nothing since this blog started to suggest that Button is his favourite and I even feel he is a notch short of giving Button due credit for his world championship.

      Overall, though, I think this is one of the more balanced blogs around.

      1. James Allen says:

        Well thank you…I think

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2010/03/mclaren-two-sides-of-a-victory/ i think that TWO SIDES OF A VICTORY article is the one which best highlighted JA’s love fest for Button – he was to put it mildly exuberant. Notice the digs he took into Hamilton – it is easy to say JA is a fan of Button. He may rate Lewis but that is not where his heart is. But i don’t find anything wrong with that – afterall, JA is just human, probably a fan of motorsports just like the rest of us and will inevitably take sides.

        That does not mean that this site is not the most balanced around – to be sincere, even the commentators on this site are probably the most balanced on the internet – which one must put down to JAs no nonsense approach to partisan rants when moderating comments.

      3. David says:

        You need to stop being so touchy when it comes to the Hamilton/Button thing. James has commented on numerous occasions that he feels Hamilton is the out and out fastest and most narurally gifted driver in the sport. The fact that he is using his wealth of knowledge and experience to reveal the subtle differences between Button and Hamilton is of benefit to us, the readers. It is not a case of him favouring one over the other, more a case of observing the areas where Hamilton needs a little improvement to become the finished article, and there is nothing wrong with that. Hamilton is a young man, fact. James is somewhat older and seen many a young driver develop into the finished article. Button is probably as good as he will ever be and it is clear that his main asset as an F1 driver is his racebrain. James is well placed to make these comments without fear of retribution because of his experience. Anyway, I doubt anyone would disagree that if Hamilton could blend his ferocious pace with the guile of Button he would be unstoppable and could even surpass Schumacher. In short, chill out, you sound like a school girl with a crush!!

      4. James Allen says:

        You have no idea how fed up I am with people always looking for signs of “bias” when I write about drivers. I write about what I see, what I hear from engineers close to the action and these are observations based on that. I don’t have any particular feeling of wanting to favour any driver

      5. C Pitter says:

        Thank you CH1UNDA, it is quite obvious, so people shouldn’t say it is paranoia to notice it. And you’re right, everyone has a preference to one over the other – it’s natural. I just think it is a shame I cannot find ONE British media journalist or presenter who is biased towards Hamilton so it becomes a bit one-sided (look at the BBC!!). Maybe we need some fresh blood in F1 journalism – more diversity maybe.

      6. Andy C says:

        Ch1unda, if you don’t like James comments there are plenty of other blogs and news sites to read.

        Give James some credit, and accept that because his opinion does not match yours that doesn’t mean he is wrong ;-)

      7. CH1UNDA says:

        Andy C i never said James was wrong. I just noted that he is human, which is true isnt it :)

      8. mtb says:

        James Allen

        You will never win. I don’t agree with everything that you write, in particular I think that you overrate Button by a significant margin, but I respect your opinion and have no doubt that it is based upon the information at your disposal.

        You would be best not to waste your time commenting on their infantile prejudices.

        Andy C

        The person who you mention was laughed away from another blog last year.

    5. guy says:

      go on to the the itv-f1.com website and see JA’s half term report – then read james’s previous posts over the last year. Still stand by your comment?

    6. gil dogon says:

      The quote above implies that currently, and generally Hamilton is faster than Button. Is that construed by you as essentially praising Button over Hamilton ?
      I truly believe James has no clear favourite. Generally I never found his writing biased toward that driver or the other.

      1. James Allen says:

        Of course not. I only care about an overview.

    7. CH1UNDA says:

      the slight favoritism is the closest to british tribalism one can get – hopefully

      1. Andy C says:

        How can you have slight British favouritism between two british drivers by the way?

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        slight favouritism not British favouritism. Anyway looks like this is bigger than i originally thought looking at the amount of interest it is attracting and how James is getting a bit touchy – quite uncharacteristic of James,that. Now Red Bull have joined the party and Mark Webber and Christian Horner are right there besides Hill in the trenches. Lets see how long the Bollywood vs Hollywood blockburster lasts. Mark is a driver, he says it can’t last. You would argue he should know. He gives good reasons. But then again, Mark is quite a character! He may be just talking about himself.

      3. James Allen says:

        It’s just gamesmanship, normal stuff

    8. Midnight Toper says:

      Boring………., paranoid sentiments from yet another disgruntled Hamilton fan. He’s only been in the sport a few years and there’s talk of him not getting the praise he deserves.

      At the end of the day it’s personality that wins over the fans and journo’s. Here we have a calm and relaxed international playboy Jenson Button Vs. a tense and petulant Lewis Hamilton who is really a bit of a nerd (he races RC cars) at heart.

    9. Carl Craven says:

      If you read much of James posts or comment replies you’d notice that it is in fact Hamilton.

    10. heartworm says:

      I got to disagree, this wasn’t putting Hamilton down, in fact I would say it says he is the faster driver. Its a personality difference and Button has always looked very relaxed.

      1. Henri says:

        All you guys are strange!! So before it was the others against the british, now it’s Button vs Hamilton!!! Even before they start ‘fighting’!!!

        If you think you’re getting too much love for either, or any team for that matter, then maybe you should widen your internet searches for information on f1!!

        It a free world, you have the right to choose what you read!

      2. Tom S says:

        Everyone has their own perspective on these things, I find it easy to like both Jenson and Lewis!

        Why not cast your eyes over to the Ferrari garage? It doesn’t look all happy families there…

    11. Monji says:

      I will not completely disagree with you Pitter. Come on guys, we all love JA and this blog (Which is my favorite by the way), but JA is only human, I’d be surprised if he honestly doesn’t favor one driver out of two, it’s a natural thing I guess as beside being a journalist he is also a fan of the sport (drivers,…)

      Guys Pitter is not totally wrong here as I’ve noticed not only JA but the media in general tends to mention Jenson’s speed whenever he out-qualifies Lewis and focuses on his personality and his ability to call for strategies when he’s doesn’t (out-qualify lewis).

      So ask yourself this question, when last or ever have you red somewhere Jenson being criticized? The answer is NEVER, doesn’t apply for Lewis though.

      1. David says:

        Well, to be fair Hamilton has developed a bit of a reputation as the bad boy of F1. After all, Jenson has never been caught cheating. That’s not to say he hasn’t cheated at some point, who knows. He just hasn’t been caught. So, the consistency of the press’ reaction to Button is born out of the consistency of Jenson himself in all aspects of his approach to life as an F1 driver. Hamilton has attracted varying reviews because his conduct has varied in the short time he has been in F1. Fair enough, it can be put down to passion in the heat of the moment etc but mud sticks in some eyes. I personally like the pairing, they’re are the best Mclaren have had since the Hakkinen/Coulthard era and long may it continue. I hope that whichever of them wins, the other is close behind bringing the booty home for the Brits for the 3rd year on the trot!!

      2. C Pitter says:

        Hooray to David!!!

        It is TRUE.

        Anyway, still love this blog – it’s very informed and has great comments.

        Just think Lewis should get some appreciation for his racing intelligence and his warm, charming personality too as well as his speed and agression.

    12. CH1UNDA says:

      The fact that JA is being defended so vehemently on this minor comment says volumes in itself

      1. Cliff says:

        The comments imply that your assumptions are incorrect. As a fan of Both I see it in.the following way. This is the first time in JB’s F1 career that he has had a competitive car two years running. Last year he won the championship and this year he is in conention. When you consider the cars he has driven and what he has now acieved, why would he not be relaxed about being a team mate of LH? You provided a link to one of JA’s previous articles, I have read the blog again and see balanced and objective analysys of two drivers. As a fan of both I think Lewis will come out on top, but JB is proving alot of doubters wrong and enjoying sticking two fingers up to them in the process

      2. mtb says:

        ‘a competitive car’

        Last year he had a DOMINATING car for the first half of the season. When the situation became competitive he faded into the mid-field and sulked about his car being undriveable.

  6. Tom Lodge says:

    Vettel or Button to win here me thinks. Still think Hamilton will get some bad luck during this season .

    1. Tombstone says:

      Losing a wheel in Spain strikes me as less than fortunate.

    2. ReviLO says:

      Some bad luck… I don’t belive we can have been watching the same season.

    3. Babi says:

      a wish?

    4. Lione; says:

      Remember Barcelona? I certainly would not call that good luck…or are you hoping he gets more of Barcelona?

    5. pking007 says:

      you think or you wish? which is it?

    6. mtb says:

      If anyone has been lucky this year it has been Button. A great deal has been said about Hamilton’s fortune in finishing second in Valencia, but nothing has been said about the fact that Button inherited third place. Similarly, he inherited the lead in Australia.

  7. Brent says:

    I think Button has been a real factor in Hamilton’s race and PR craft, he has probably had a calming effect on the team (although it seems Whitmarsh is a little more relaxed then Dennis).

    1. iceman says:

      Good point about Whitmarsh, I think he deserves as much credit as the drivers for fostering harmony in the team.

      1. Cliff says:

        Still a big fan of Ron Dennis, but you’re 100% correct about Whitmarsh. From the outside it appears that whilst he is clearly in charge, he still allows the team members to be themselves. I think James made a similar observation recently.

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        I would also allocate some reasonable credit to the fact the Max Mosley is no longer president of FIA – it kind of allows McLaren to enjoy a lower friendlier profile in the media

      3. mtb says:

        CH1UNDA

        Ron Dennis was pompous and self-righteous long before Max Mosley became FIA President.

  8. Tombstone says:

    I think most of those saying the relationship will break down are guilty of (their own) wishful thinking.

  9. Ade says:

    I believe that Jenson’s calmer attitude has come about because of the Honda/Brawn struggle to race and has had a knock on effect for Lewis as he really does seem less of the spoilt schoolboy these days. Jenson has been about quite a bit longer than Hamilton, maybe that is the reason he gets talked about a little bit better?

  10. HowardHughes says:

    I think it’s worth making the point that every one of you F1 guys who do anything of benefit to a childrens’ hospital like that are heroes. Well bloody done to you James.

  11. Luke A says:

    I have just put a £10 bet on both Webber and Vettel for Pole at 3/1 and 7/4 respectively, meaning i’ll get a overall gain of either £20 or £7.50 if either of those get on pole.

    I have done this because I am so confident that one of them should be on pole, seeming as this track is almost certainly better suited to their car than any other bar possibly Barcelona (and look at what happened there in qualifying).

    I am a big Hamilton and McLaren fan and therefore my heart wants Hammy to be on pole, however, I bet with my brain and that tells me that I should make a bit of money there.

    James, do you think it is possible (in dry conditions) that anyone could challenge Red Bull for pole position? I think it is interesting how McLaren’s upgrades may work – having an extra two weeks and delaying the blown diffuser, may end up being an advantage as they will have learn from the problems other teams had introducing it. Also, Christian Horner seems adamant that it will only bring a max of 2 – 3 tenths, however, if McLaren could get that engine switch implemented to allow the extra pace for a Q3 hot lap, then they may be close. I feel Ferarri will not be so close as they have not been so good on high speed circuits this year, infact I think McLaren are better on high speed circuits than low speed.

    Do you have any information on additional aero parts that McLaren are bringing other than the blown diffuser?

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      If you bet with your brain you would not bet.

      9% of all men are susceptible to becoming addicted to gambling. That figure is from official stats. Sorry, I don’t have the reference to prove it. Not sure of the figure for women.

      Gambling is more destructive than drugs, alcohol or tabacco and yet we have more relaxed rules about it and people like you showing how “clever” they are.

      If you’ve ever seen the wreckage that comes of gambling addiction you would not support it. I’d sooner see someone addicted to herion than gambling.

  12. Checkers says:

    If it’s down to raw pace i’d put my money on Lewis, if race craft comes into it then Jenson will be right behind him ready to snatch the victory away. That is of course assuming they qualify P1/2 ! I feel Red Bull/Ferrari would love to upset this.

  13. Rich C says:

    I just think there’s an awful lot of ‘dog-in-a-manger’ commenting going on about these guys. Hill is only the most recent.

    It appears to me that a lot of ppl *want there to be trouble in paradise, so they can say ‘I told you so’ and ppl can see them as relavent once again.

    1. Chris says:

      Not too sure what ‘dog in a manger’ means but wholeheardetly agree with your last paragraph.

  14. AMG Fan says:

    As last year, Button’s issue is qualifying and that will ensure Hamilton will beat him for the majority of the time. Struggling in qualifying but being fast in the race is almost a non-point with the premium placed on qualifying now.

  15. True Blue says:

    James you have a better insight than me but the cynic in me says all this lovey dovey is mainly for the cameras.
    My gut feeling is that jensen is a rather laid back individual and Lewis is a ruthless racer who will continue to smile while he is on top.

    1. James Allen says:

      You may be right, but I’ve seen them behind closed doors when no-one is paying attention and they get on.

      1. Brent says:

        I think that Hamilton’s “your going to Hollywood, i’m going to Bollywood” comment shows how relaxed they are together. Hamilton feels comfortable enough with Button to joke about his race. I doubt he would let his guard down like that if he and Button weren’t getting along really well.

    2. C Pitter says:

      I get the impression that Lewis is the relaxed friendly one and that Button is the ruthless racer who is putting on an act (see Turkey when he ignored the target lap times to sneak past Lewis and then lied about target lap times post race, only to admit he was given them in Canada).

      1. Paul Douglas says:

        I think you’re imagining things to suit a narrative you, for whatever reason, prefer.

      2. Avl says:

        I’m bemused that you would reply to C Pitters post with this comment but ignore the post that he was replying to from True Blue (which states the same thing the other way around). Perhaps you yourself are guilty of what you accuse others?

      3. James Allen says:

        Eh? I was adding my POV to the end of the dialogue. It’s my blog, surely I can add my comments where I want to?

      4. mtb says:

        I remember Button in mid-2006 (at Magny-Cours (?)) effectively telling Louise Goodman to leave him alone. Once again he had hyped himself up to a level where he could only fail to meet expectations, and once again he had failed to meet expectations.

        Image has played a major role in Button’s career, and unfortunately many have been hoodwinked by the strategy.

  16. Shane says:

    If i was going to have a wager on who was going to finish the season better, my money would definately be on Lewis. It should be an awesome weekend, can’t wait :)

  17. PaulL says:

    Hamilton’s been easily faster for a number of races now. Does anyone believe Button can give a response?

  18. Adrian says:

    Slighty off topic, but I was at the Science Museum today and they have the McLaren that Mike crashed at the 1999 German GP and it was very interesting to look at where the exhausts exited on it…right over the (much smaller and further forward as per the old aero rules) diffuser…

    …they also have an upside down MP4-21 on the ceiling there!!

    If only I’d known that my 2 favourite drivers were in London at the same time as me…not that I would have got in to the event, but still, might have been able to catch a glimpse as they exited the building!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Bernie Ecclestone had his annual F1 party raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital there last night. They raised £500k which makes a total of £2 milion in four years. Last night they paid for five heart machines, apparently

      1. Darren says:

        we may have a regular pop at Bernie, and yes wish he would stop sending us to crap race track around the world but i bet he give a lot of time and money to a lot of worthy organisations.

      2. debora marsh says:

        And of course he will get all the tax benefits from it 8)

      3. Adrian says:

        I have to agree. I think Bernie has made some unwise comments and is driven by money when it comes to selecting new venues for races to be held.

        BUT…I also think that when he’s not got his business head on that he is a genuinely nice person and I’d be willing to wager that he also does a lot for charity that we never hear about.

      4. mtb says:

        I think we should remember that Bernie is an enthusiast. He is involved in F1 because he has a genuine interest in the sport.

        the same can’t be said for the car manufacturers who were attempting to wrestle control from the FIA/FOM in recent years.

  19. GB says:

    I think the new layout will work in Hamilton’s favour this weekend.

  20. Harvey Yates says:

    I reckon that the one thing history teaches us is that we never learn from it. Those with a good memory of the subtleties of the Alonso/Hamilton relationship might well remember one or two moments when it wasn’t all sweetness and light.

    And I seem to remember, in the dim and distant, something about Prost and Senna being reluctant to dip their bread in the same fondue.

    I was one of those who predicted that there would be a falling out between Hamilton and Button. I had good reasons. The last time two equally committed and skilled drivers in the same team got on together the cars had wire wheels.

    And secondly: fair enough, Button is laid back but people are at their most tolerant of things when they aren’t affected by them. And Hamilton’s performance affects Button.

    But things do appear to be different this time. So why?

    The biggest change, and one which has been mentioned before on your blog, is that of team management.

    To my way of thinking, Ron Dennis was one of the top five team managers since 1966. But he, like the other four, had his weaknesses and perhaps man-management was one of them. Is the difference Whitmarsh?

    He’s impressed me this season. And even so, perhaps I’ve underestimated him.

    1. TG says:

      Absolutely agree.

      Ron is a legend, but not for his driver management skills. Just ask David Coulthard.

      The fact Lewis’s Dad is now at arms length might also be a factor. Hamilton is, to his credit, taking more control of his own affairs.

      Personally, I think we have a classic McLaren line-up on our hands and I think both drivers are clued up enough not to spoil the buzz with a Senna/Prost re-run.

    2. Paul says:

      You are certainly right that the Alonso/Hamilton relationship wasn’t all “sweetness and light” but I think that had more to do with Alonso not being happy about being challenged by a rookie when he expected to be given preference as number 1 driver. For the most part Lewis did little more than stand his ground.

      The Lewis/Button dynamic is sure to be different. They both have a World Championship and enough ‘runs on the board’ that they don’t need to jockey for position or fight for respect off the track. They just need to perform to the best of their ability on the track.

      I’m sure it also helps that Red Bull are such close competitors as both drivers have more competition outside the team than within.

      I’m sure the same is true of Red Bull, if they we’re out in front on their own then Webber and Vettel may not have patched things up so quickly after their coming together if they didn’t have other things to worry about.

      Lewis will also remember how close he (and Alonso) came to being World Champion in 2007 and be aware of how the misdirected energy within the team may have made all the difference.

  21. Owen.C says:

    8th line from the bottom has a typo.

    However much the media want problems to arise between the two, I think most people don’t really believe it will happen.

  22. Chris Partridge says:

    Here’s my guess on Lewis and Jenson: I wonder whether it’s a “big brother / little brother” type relationship between the two. Both are British, both came up through similar ways in karting etc…Jenson’s maturity and relaxed nature also benefits Lewis and Lewis’ raw-edged racing thrust pushes Jenson on. That’s not to say Jenson isn’t a raw racer himself — of course he is as a World Champion — but I think they probabyly do naturally get on for the reasons I describe and therefore complement each other. I bet Martin Whitmarsh is breathing a sigh of relief at that!

  23. Baart says:

    Well, i must say this James …

    Bernie Ecclestone made improvements in F1 marketing,
    Jackie Steward and Max Mosley in F1 safety, and You reunited us again with this sport. Thank you very much !

  24. michael says:

    Funny, I just get this feeling that Button is hanging on to Lewis for dear life. Plus pure desparation when reminding us that he actually bagged two wins already all due to his experience. He comes over as someone realizing either that its too late or that he needs to galvanize support and simpathy for what he expects to really hurt. …

  25. Michael says:

    You have got to get the details of their bet. The way things are going, I’d say there’s a fair chance one of them will have to make good on it and when they do, I’d like the humiliation to be public :)

    (though the toilet thing’s probably over-doing it)

  26. Spenny says:

    A couple of comments wondering about Whitmarsh above.

    One thing I haven’t seen him being credit for is working a massive trick of turning around the image of McLaren and Hamilton especially from being the targets of vicious bile at their nadir of only a year ago from many quarters.

    There are a few things: not walking away from 2009; giving Button a home where he is appreciated – and also allowing his character to represent the team; allowing Hamilton his head on the track and keeping his head down off. Also, I suppose, putting the brakes on RBR so we didn’t have a second year where a team walked away.

  27. Robyn says:

    Not that I *know* him or anything (sadly), but Button strikes me as the sort of person it would be hard *not* to get along with.

  28. Steven says:

    Im sure Jensons calmer deamenor has helped with Hamiltons attitude, but I also think that last seasons strugle with the slow car has tempered Hamilton a bit.

  29. JohnBt says:

    Personally I will not take Damon’s comment on the hare and the tortoise seriously, as he’s not really an outstanding driver despite winning his WDC. And anyway the tortoise won in the moral of this story.

    1. Harvey Yates says:

      Not Jock Clear’s opinion of Damon. Fair enough he also rates Villeneuve but his comments on him at the ‘Meet the Fans’ venue showed that he had a great deal of respect for the man’s abilities as a driver.

      Remember that Hill lapped Prost when in an identical car. Off the top of my head I can’t remember anyone else who has done that – although I feel certain someone will point out if I’m wrong.

      Hill was a remarkable driver. Many feel he was robbed of what should have been his first title.

      That said, Hill has the interests of Silverstone at heart and he could be just sowing the wind. It gets coverage in the papers.

      1. Natalie says:

        “Off the top of my head I can’t remember anyone else who has done that – although I feel certain someone will point out if I’m wrong.”

        I just watched Senna do it in the ’88 British GP on the BBC Classic Grand Prix feature :p

      2. Harvey Yates says:

        Natalie,

        Thanks for that. The odd thing is, I was there. I saw it and I forgot it.

        I’m not suggesting that Hill can be compared with Senna but what is true is that Prost was no slouch. Yet at a circuit that rewards good driving, Hill made him look average. The excuse often given is that it was raining but that normally evens out car advantage and pushed driver ability to the fore.

        Hill and Hunt had a lot in common. Both seemed derided when they were driving and it is only after they retired that people started to acknowledge the ability.

        Donnington and Canada: those two races showed Senna at his best, and it was evident in the first lap of both races.

  30. Monji says:

    I’ve noticed all great champions are angry at themselves when things don’t go their way let alone being out-qualified, so if Lewis only smiles when he’s on top for me that’s a great quality, I mean Jenson can’t keep affording being cool even when he’s losing, that should make one wonder at some point.

    1. iceman says:

      I think Button’s demeanour is kind of “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. What happened in Turkey shows he has no lack of desire to beat Hamilton.

  31. Legend2 says:

    James, you asked us all to come up with a name for Seb Vettel’s replacement chassis, after it was claimed that “Luscious Liz” was damaged. As it turned out, Seb named his new one “Randy Mandy”.

    Now, in news just in, Red Bull are not giving Mark Webber a new chassis after the crazy Valencia smash, they are giving him Seb’s rejected ex-girlfriend. Yep, Mark Webber will be racing in “Luscious Liz” at Silverstone, and possibly the remainder of the season. If Red Bull’s claims that “Luscious Liz” was costing Vettel a lot of time, surely this means Mark Webber’s chances for the remainder of the season are now zero? And that battle for pole position you talk about will be a foregone conclusion?

    1. Andy says:

      I believe Red Bull have fixed the found faults in ‘Luscious Liz’ between Monaco and Silverstone, so Mark should not be in a disadvantage due to that.

      1. Legend2 says:

        You’d hope so Andy. Some source I heard from said something about a crack, so I’m not sure that could be fixed. However, we do not know if anything was wrong with the chassis at all. What we do know is that Vettel said he felt a lot more comfortable in “Randy Mandy”. One tenth is often all that separates these two.

        I must admit Vettel has far exceeded my expectations, he has been incredible to match it with Webber (who is arguably the best driver on the grid). It would be awesome to see Webber beat the smug and loved Vettel in a chassis that he rejected because he thought it wasn’t good enough for him. The rejected “Luscious Liz”.

      2. haj says:

        You might be right – but it is PR own goal for Red Bull after all their hard work to change public perception that they favour Seb.

  32. drplix says:

    Off Topic: Karun Chandock’s diary on the FOS last weekend.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/camposmeta1/7874563/Karun-Chandhok-F1-drivers-diary-Goodwood-Festival-of-Speed-2010.html

    He’s a top bloke and an F1 fan. His attitude and communication with the fans and media this year has been great. Hope he gets a better drive next year for the 1st Indian GP.

    (Sponsors are you watching?)

  33. sixtenths says:

    James, do you know if any of the Teams now running the blown diffuser are also running the RBR “retarded ignition on the overrun” Q3 trick ?

    Just how much does this whole exhaust blown diffuser interfere with the highly optimised F Duct action on the McLaren ?

    Regarding Lewis and Jenson getting along, I have seen nothing to suggest otherwise, I cannot think of a more balanced, perfect team mate relationship on the grid. People trying to say otherwise seem to be grasping at straws to try and beat them off the track as beating them on it is looking increasingly hard…

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t know, will try to find out more this weekend

    2. DC says:

      Talking of this overrun issue…James mentioned in his article that it could damage the engine, so maybe the Renault reliability issues with Gearboxes and the like are not just maufuacturing issues…they are indeed running the engine to it’s limits with this trick…and sometimes paying the price?

      I have to say, if this is the case. I have less sympathy for their reliability problems.

  34. pking007 says:

    I’m yet to see a true champion all smiles and relaxed when being beaten in any sport by the competition. whether athletics, golf, baskeball, football or F1. so i dont see the rationale of any of this fuss being made especially in the British media about Button’s apparent relaxed state. He better starts getting angry about his team mate beating him. This line on thinking is exactly why we fail at so many sports in England while countries with that ruthless “must win” streak go on to win everything leaving us looking like mediocre all the time. Example of such countries are USA and Germany just to name a few.

  35. BA says:

    Somehow i feel Hamilton is likely to have bad weekend coming at Silverstone. His misfortune tends to struck him when he’s expected to get good result.

  36. For Sure says:

    The key reason why they have a good relationship is that Button’s pace.
    Lewis have no problem with Jenson and they can remain friends forever because deep down inside he knows Jenson is no match for him just like a lot of experts.

    I remember this statement “Form is temporary, class is permanent”.

    On form Jenson may be close to Lewis but not close enough. Lewis sometimes makes it closer than it actually is. Sometimes he just cruises where he could have gone faster so that Button could finish 2 seconds behind him. And his fans think, look he is so close. Well, it’s not as simple as that.

    And the only reason Lewis doesn’t have any intention to destroy Jenson and make him work for him is that it looks ugly in public domain and a lot more people will hate him.

    Imagine, if it was Alonso or someone who could give Lewis a run for his money, there would have been fireworks as it had been before.

    At the end of the day, there could only be one tiger in the mountain.

    1. DC says:

      “And the only reason Lewis doesn’t have any intention to destroy Jenson and make him work for him is that it looks ugly in public domain and a lot more people will hate him”

      Sorry, that’s got nothing to do with it. you’re right that if you’re in front you control the gap if you have the pace to do so…but when Lewis has done this it was purely to make sure he looked after the car to the end.

      engines and gearboxes have to do many race miles and if you can save them while you have the chance then it makes sense to do so… then there is tyres and fuel as well of course. it’s as simple as that.

      Lewis closed in on Seb in Valencia, but only because Seb was driving sensibly… it’s the nature of the new regs i’m afraid…

      1. For Sure says:

        I see, that’s a very valid point.
        May be that’s why we don’t see him or others doing things that Schumacher did in his error.
        He pushed like mad to a point where he got 60 seconds lead etc..

  37. Rodney says:

    Wouldn’t it be great to have the life of an international car racing playboy!

  38. Jodum5 says:

    Typical of me to think it’s a little cheesy how well they seem to get along on camera, but it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the icy relationships that we usually hear about. I also enjoyed how Trulli and Alonso got along while teammates at Renault – I seem to remember Alonso not throwing a massive fit (publically) when Trulli was ahead of him in 2004.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      No, he just quietly got him moved out of the team for the next year.

  39. Andy C says:

    Good to see they are pushing the team on. I genuinely think they get on well and I dont think they come across like Mark and Seb in those cheesy (all good friends again) pics.

    I always though Jenson would be closer to Lewis than people expected.

    It will be interesting if the new blown diffuser gives a lot more downforce as expected whether Jenson will be able to get more out of the better car (Lewis does seem to be able to drive around car issues more than Jenson).

    James,
    any guestimates from your friends in the team in Woking as to how much they’re expecting a lap in improvement? If its north of 0.250 they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

  40. Liam says:

    I think that basically, Button is happy just being so close to Lewis on pace.

    I’m a massive fan of both drivers and I don’t care what anyone says, Button is quick but Lewis is widely considered the fastest out and out racer on the grid.

    Everyone thought that Jenson would get anhialated this year but he’s proving himself to be pretty much as quick as Lewis in the races and perfectly capable of winning if Lewis isn’t or makes a mistake.

    I think that this ‘harmony’ within the team will stay because if these two keep fighting at the front and Jenson is always close to and occasionally beating Lewis he will get more respect as a driver than he ever has in his career. We have to remember, his career was almost over 18 months ago and if it had been nobody would have even considered his name in a discussion of great racing drivers.

    His statements regarding joining McLaren summed it up for me… He pretty much said that Lewis is the best and I’m going to take up the challenge of beating him in his own team.

    That tells me he always knew he could lose but just being close is seriously sticking two fingers up at his critics of the past.

    I do need to say though, if Lewis was consistently being beaten he would eventually throw his toys out of the pram and this friendly banter between them would be no more. It’s only Jenson’s acceptance of the inevitable that keeps this friendship going.

  41. Andy C says:

    James, I was watching a clip today of jenson and lewis searching out and sitting in one of ayrtons mclarens.

    Again what came across is how well they get on together.

    I had forgotten how great the older f1 cars pre-raised noses and narrower cars.

    Ayrtons car looked miles wider. How much wider than a modern day car? Jb said they would be much easier to drift.

  42. Malcom says:

    Iceman, Jenson’s so-called laid back attitude surely exploded last year, when questioned about his willing to win, and his killer instinct.

    Jenson’s response; ” Does Jenson want this title or not? It’s a pretty silly question isn’t it? Why the f**k am I here?……..some laid back attitude.

  43. Stuart Moore says:

    A good video (from this event?) on the top of http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8797107.stm – really interesting to see the way the two were interacting.
    (BBC – so I suspect may be UK only, sorry!)

    I think they’re realising they’re both getting a lot out of it, and that they’ve seen where decisiveness gets them (both in Red Bull/Ferrari this year, and in Lewis’ case his season with Alonso).

    I suspect both being the same nationality and having the same cultural background has a big influence too, different cultures do things differently and it’s easy to get frustrated by
    those differences.

    Long may it last.

  44. mtb says:

    I think it is time for a reality check. Hamilton/button are not Senna/Prost. Hamilton may go on to emulate Senna’s achievements, but Button will never get close to Prost’s accomplishments.

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