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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Feb 2012   |  10:55 am GMT  |  49 comments

Here is something a bit different, which will hopefully give fans a flavour of the McLaren 2012 car launch yesterday.

It’s an opportunity to listen to the audio of the media group interviews conducted yesterday with Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Martin Whitmarsh.

Hamilton speaks about what he’s been doing over the winter, his 2011 season to forget and his hopes for the year. He also speaks about how it feels to be getting older as a driver, now 27 years of age.

Button speaks about his feelings about the competition, particularly the thrill of being one of a record 6 world champions in the F1 field.

Whitmarsh talks about the challenges of clawing back the performance lost from the banning of the blown diffusers and the team’s chances of beating Red Bull this year.

Lewis Hamilton


Jenson Button

Martin Whitmarsh

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49 Comments
  1. Dan Orsino says:

    I’ve really warmed up to Button over the last two seasons and now have huge respect for him as a driver, esp in 2011.
    I see him firmly cemented at McL and definitley their no1 driver [yes I know they have an equal drivers policy]

    But he does enjoy the waffle and hot air of media interviews more than most …

    1. MISTER says:

      Dan you are spot on.
      Same as you, I didn’t think much of Button until he got to McLaren and now I have lots of respect for him. He drives, acts and speaks like a champion.

      I’ve watched the car launch yesterday at work and without sound. When Button and Lewis were speaking, Button looked so confident and if I’m not wrong, he was always first to speak.

      He looks and acts more and more confident and “at home” at McLaren. We should have a mighty battle this year for the #1 driver at McLaren.

      James, do you see Lewis staying at McLaren if Button get the best of him in the first races this year? Could Button beating him regulary count in his decission of staying or leaving the McLaren?

      1. Wayne says:

        Surely Hamilton would not leave the team if Button regularly beat him? He would want to stay and rectify the situation rather than run away and have his ‘stock’ drop through the floor. Besides it’s not going to happen is it? Hamilton had his worst ever season in F1 last year and still won the same amount of races as his team mate who was having his best season in F1 ever. We saw Hamilton’s worst against Button’s best.

        I still agree with you both, at least partially, about Button though. Even during and after his championship winning year I had little respect for what I considered a journeyman driver who lucked into a fantasic and unbeatable Brawn. Now? Different story. Button has proven his mettle as a top flight F1 driver once and for all.

        I still cannot see any repeat of last season, however, Hamilton will surely reassert himself as long as he does not try too hard and make a hash of it. It’s all about the start for Lewis, if he makes a mistake or the car is poor he will probably get increasingly dissalusioned and ‘desperate’ which will give Button the openeing he needs to come out on top again.

      2. EversmannGT says:

        Agree with you both! (and I am a tifosi) – I wasn’t so sure if he belonged in the same class of champions when he won it with Brawn, but not a question after what we’ve seen last season. And I like listening to his interviews – he’s always cool, calm and collected… doesn’t speak with cliches. Fantastic for the sport!

      3. AuraF1 says:

        Agreed. Button definitely has the model spokesperson role sewn up. Oddly after his WDC he seemed to become relaxed in any situation while Lewis seemed to tighten up. But Lewis has always said he’s quite shy. Obviously his aggression in driving doesnt carry over to his public persona. They actually seem like very competitive brothers now.

        Although it’s quite shocking to hear a 27 year old have to talk about getting older in a sport that used to have newcomers into their later 30s. I do sometimes worry that f1 is taking them on too young. Lewis and vettel I suppose make my opinion stupid sounding!

  2. Philip says:

    Nice work, James.

    Can this become a regular feature?

  3. Vinola says:

    Yes, very nice, thank you. BTW, when will Ferrari launch their car?

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        James may I ask when Mercedes are launching?

        They’re not testing till late Feb. Do you think Brawn has something up his sleeve?

      2. James Allen says:

        I hope so! Not heard a launch date yet

      3. EversmannGT says:

        Hi James,

        Looking forward to the Ferrari launch tomorrow – but it’s a shame Ferrari are the only ones who don’t have a cool site – RBR, Mclaren, Mercedes all have fantastic sites.

        I’ll be keeping my eyes on JA F1 :-) Cheers

      4. MISTER says:

        They do have a website.

        http://www.ferrari.com/English/Formula1/Pages/Home.aspx

        And here is the link for the launch page:
        http://singleseater2012.ferrari.com/

        I’m looking forward to see how ugly this car is.

      5. Richard D says:

        I believe they may have cancelled due to snow!

      6. Steve Mc says:

        Just seen the new Ferrari – Dear Lord, it looks worse than caterham!

      7. EversmannGT says:

        All noses are going to look ugly I guess this year… except for the mclarens of course – can’t wait to see who has the best performance!

  4. Thanks very much for bringing these interviews James. Reading the interviews is fine but the tone of voice really adds something.

  5. Richard says:

    There will be three rather interesting aspects regarding McLaren this year. Firstly do they have a car that can lead from the front which is vital with Pirelli tyres to win races, and hence the championship. Will Lewis Hamilton recover his scintillating form he has shown in the past, and which of the two will come out on top this year. My respect for Button has grown of the last two years, but I suspect Pirelli tyres have worked in his favour in respect of his smooth style, but has worked against Hamilton who is a driver that can really throw any car around regardless of set up. I suspect that Hamilton has had to modify his style and/or strategy to suit these high degradation tyres as they do not have the latitude to allow it. As I’ve said many times before not a race, but a tyre strategy and conservation exercise that precludes proper wheel to wheel racing.

    1. L says:

      Are you really claiming all those mistakes, crashes, etc., Hamilton made were because of the Pirellis?

      1. Richard says:

        Read what I say rather than what you think I’ve said, but in short no I don’t! I think the Pirelli tyres have merely added to his frustration. Obviously this year the Pirelli compounds are going to be closer, but durability is only slightly improved. Really the only way to win a championship with these tyres is to lead from the front with a fast smooth drive as Vettel so ably demonstrated. Start throwing the car around and you’re going backwards big time.

      2. L says:

        Again you said the Pirellis were to blame for him performing poorly (which, yes, includes mistakes and misjudgments that resulted into crashes), you should read what you type correctly?

        The cream always rises to the top, no matter how hot it gets, what kind of cup is used, how the cup is held. All these excuses.

        Hamilton is a Villeneuve it seems. Difference being that Villeneuve could handle pressure better when it mattered.

        Just being fast is not what makes a great champion. He won the title in 2008 in the last corners against Massa of all drivers while the McLaren was the more reliable car and faster over the season.

        Hamilton is average at best when pressured. Button proved this too.

      3. Rick says:

        Richard, I wonder which of Lewis or Jenson will best adapt to the lack of down force this year. I have a hunch that it may be that Lewis might be better with a car that’s less gluded to the track…

      4. Richard says:

        Read the words don’t put your own spin on it. The fact is that the Pirelli’s suit some drivers better than others. They certainly are not responsible for Hamilton’s mistakes just an added frustration. If a certain driver has a smooth fast driving style then that particular driver will have to adapt less. Of course all drivers have to adapt to a lesser or greater extent from their usual driving style. On durable tyres Button was significantly slower than Hamilton, but with the Pirelli’s he has had to rein himself in somewhat. Make no mistake Hamilton is a very talented driver so perhaps we had better wait and see how he does this year if McLaren have a front running car.

  6. Jon North East says:

    I’ve just come across the latest bettting odds for 2012 F1 Drivers Championship. They are below.
    Evs Sebastian Vettel
    5/1 Fernando Alonso
    5/1 Lewis Hamilton
    7/1 Jenson Button
    12/1 Mark Webber
    40/1 Felipe Massa
    50/1 Nico Rosberg
    50/1 Michael Schumacher
    66/1 Kimi Raikkonen
    100/1 Paul Di Resta
    150/1 Romain Grosjean
    150/1 Daniel Ricciardo
    150/1 Nico Hulkenberg
    200/1 Kamui Kobayashi
    200/1 Sergio Perez
    250/1 Jean-Eric Vergne
    500/1 Bruno Senna
    750/1 Pastor Maldonado
    1000/1 Charles Pic
    1000/1 Timo Glock
    1000/1 Pedro de la Rosa
    1000/1 Jarno Trulli
    1000/1 Heikki Kovalainen
    They make an interesting read, not a suprise that Sebastian is favourite, Lewis has a better chance than Jenson. What is intersting is they think that Alonso is 8 times more likely than Felipe and Sebastian is 12 times more likely than Mark Webber!
    We shall see in November!

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      James, I think you need to do a piece about the 6 champion drivers’ reaction to now competing in the most competitive driver’s championship in the sports history. No season has had so many chamions.

      Do these 6 drivers see it that by winning the 2012 season, they take the cudos as being the best of the current generation? Is there extra confidence to be gained this season by beating the other 5?

    2. kevin green says:

      Quite interesting to see how remarkably high the odds are on Paul di Resta concidering the team he i9s with etc and how much i have talked him up for being so good against all the negative reposts!
      What i do note from that is the very very little belief in the Williams cars.
      Surprised to see Kimi ranked behind Schumacher i feel he will out score him this season as usuall just have to see what cars get delivered on reace day :)

  7. Xman says:

    I trully believe the Macca will be the class of the field and win most races. Although the real suprise will come when button races the new softer Pirreli tyres better that Lewis. Button for 2012WDC. The bulls have lost their advantage they had by perfecting the blown floor. But im not counting out the Alonso factor.. As always he’ll fight till the end.

    1. L says:

      McLaren benefitted more by the blown floor/diffuser than RBR even, that is a fact. See Silverstone.

      So your argument is flawed.

      1. Xman says:

        Perfection is different from reliance my man.

      2. SJM says:

        I think the Silvetstone situation was very misleading. Remember this year’s car is a total redesign. The lower nose regulation will affect RB more than Mclaren. Mclaren had RB’s number towards the end of the season so I’m sure they know the levels of downforce needed for this year.

      3. shane says:

        You can’t really prove that one. Both teams were giving different allowances with regards to throttle over run for what the teams claimed was reliability reasons. So we’ll never really know. We now know that rbr warmed their rear tyres with clever exhaust blowing. To say McLaren benefited more from the blown floor is just wrong. Red bull had designed their whole car round Yeh system. Indeed it was they that started the engine mapping/blowing floor system so they undoubtedly had some advantage overall. Everyone else was playing catchup. This year will be much closer because of it. Again…unless someone has made some very clever designs.

    2. Richard says:

      All the teams will have re-worked their cars significantly from last year to take account of the loss of the blown diffuser. I really don’t think you can drawn any comparisons to last years Silverstone either which merely demonstrated how much downforce Mclaren were getting from the diffuser last year. All the teams will have been working hard on other ways to improve downforce so we will see in Melbourne which team comes out on top, however the long run times in testing should give us some clues, although McLaren are known to have been working on single lap times because they know they have to have the ability to get in front of Vettel on the grid. In truth though cars and the team have to be very good on all fronts, and Red Bull set a very high standard last year.

  8. Michael P says:

    I would like to know how everyone knows that the Bulls are the car to beat? Is there a place where all manufacturers send their wind tunnel data to so that it is determined that the bulls still have the best package?? I doubt it. I understand their domination over the last 2 years but with the blown diffuser out of the picture I am getting a sense of a complete redesign therefore I don’t see how there is a carryover from last year.

    1. Xman says:

      The change in regulations are minimal. Yes even though the blown diffuser was a major development. 2009 to 2012 has been an evolution… The red bull is a great car, and so it will most deff continue to be. If it is once again the fastest – we will have to wait and see.

  9. Kevin says:

    G’day all! I’m hoping someone can answer a question I’ve been pondering for a while in regards to Jenson Button.
    He is regarded as a driver with a smooth driving style but struggles in the dry if his car isn’t (as Martin Brundel described it) “on rails”. I’ve heard commentary to this effect for years while watching F1 on TV. One would assume this is because of a lack of grip (when a car is sliding it’s hardly “on rails”). Yep JB is regarded as the modern master of “changeable conditions” as he proved in Canada last years. One would assume that a wet track would also assume this is caused by a lack of grip.
    To me this seams like a contidiction. Has anyone got an explanation?

    1. Richard D says:

      I suspect that it is that other drivers show a greater level of performance degradation in the wet.

    2. Ade says:

      It’s always been said that JB likes a predictable car with rear end stability, particularly under braking. I guess if he gets this, then he can plant the car where and how he likes it and feel his way to the grip levels…

    3. Dxs says:

      it was more that button was doing high risk calls that paid off..

      it isnt as though he is a fast rain driver

  10. goferet says:

    Lewis does make an interesting point, with the double diffuser gone, the back of these cars will have much less down force so the majority of the down force will be generated by the front wing.

    That being so, the new regs seem to have been tailor made for the likes of Schumi & Lewis who prefer pointy fronts and loose backs.

    Also the fact that Pirelli will be bringing more durable tyres, this gives Lewis more the upper hand so we are unlikely to see the likes of Suzuka 2011 or Hungary 2011 where Lewis just went off the boil.

    Now with the way things stand, I understand why Whitmarsh was pleading with Pirelli to bring back the fast degrading Pirelli —> It all makes sense now *nods slowly*

    1. Xman says:

      Unfortunately for Lewis the tires that Pirreli is bringing for 2012 are of softer compounds that 2011. Not sure that means more durable at all

  11. Matt W says:

    To be fair to Hamilton, most of the points he dropped last year were due to collisions. The majority of the time that he was racing in similar circumstances to Button, he tended to be the faster paced driver and the tyre conservation caused him minimal problems in terms of pace/race position. Take China for example when everyone thought he had messed up his pit strategy when he lost a huge amount of time staying out an extra lap. He was able to fight back to the point of winning the race when Vettel’s tyres hit the cliff before the end of the race.

    Hamilton’s problems are more to do with patience and knowing when to overtake and when to defend. I put that down to maturity more than anything as Button has really matured since 2009.

  12. veeru says:

    James,

    can you we have some technical analysis on McLaren 2012 challenger to read on from an outsider. One of your high level technical F1 buddies rather??

    thanks much

  13. Richard says:

    Everyone thinks Red Bull will be the car to beat because of performances over the last two years. Yes the hot blown diffuser has gone, and we’ve got the lower nose, but they have a design team lead by Adrian Newey so it’s a good bet that their car will be on the pace come Australia. That said I’m hoping that it is very close at the front to even out the playing field a bit, but I suspect it will be the usual exponents at the front.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      You won’t get much of an idea until some analysis is performed regarding testing. And you won’t know for sure until after Melbourne, but not even by then!!

      1. kevin green says:

        Exactly Liam that key word as allways for probably decades to come Newey!

  14. Davexxx says:

    Lewis is 27?? My God, how did that happen, he was only 19 a couple of years ago! (or so it seems) Where has the time gone?! ;-(

    1. James Allen says:

      I know. Button’s 32! I remember him joining Williams at just 20

  15. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Alonso and Hamilton will challenge Vettel as a “driver machine” on Sundays, it is about focus.

    Now, which Team will do systematic poles on Saturdays? That’s not so easy…

  16. TheBestPoint? says:

    Quick question : who is the higher ranked between jonathan neale and martin whitmarsh?

    1. James Allen says:

      Whitmarsh is the boss

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