A return to winning ways?
Marina Bay 2014
Singapore Grand Prix
What’s happened to Jenson Button’s form?
McLaren Mercedes
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Jun 2012   |  10:30 am GMT  |  192 comments

One of the most stark stories of recent weeks has been the decline in form of Jenson Button, who won the first race of the season but has now fallen to eighth in the driver’s standings, 43 points adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

With seven different race winners and no-one running away with the championship, it’s by no means a disaster. But the McLaren driver knows he needs to get on top of his set up issues and get back onto the podium as soon as possible to keep himself in contention.

The problem, as always in F1, is not one thing. Button has struggled recently with this generation of Pirelli tyres to get heat into the front tyres, especially for qualifying. He has lost the “feeling”. McLaren runs its car very stiff at the front for aerodynamic reasons. Button has tried on several occasions using different brake materials, partly to generate more temperature from inside the wheel, as he did again in Montreal. But in trying to solve this front grip issue, his set up has moved away from the planted rear end of the car which his driving style requires.

Last year’s cars, with their exhaust blown diffusers, generated huge amounts of rear end downforce which gave Button the stable rear end he needs. This year’s F1 cars, without the EBD, move around a lot at the back, which Hamilton can live with but Button can’t. The McLaren seemed in winter testing and in the opening races to be reasonably strong at the rear relative to the others in this area, certainly enough for Button to feel good with it in February and March. But perhaps the development of the car since then has taken it away from what works for him. In Montreal he was particularly unlucky that some new directions he was trying out, including in rear suspension didn’t get the long run testing they needed on Friday as he lost most of the day with a drawn-out oil leak and gearbox change saga. So his problem with heavy tyre usage didn’t really show itself until race day, where he suffered high degradation.


“I haven’t got a clue what to do at the moment and every time we have good ideas we don’t seem to make any progress,” he said after the race. “I love driving an F1 car so I am confident every time I jump in and then after two laps there is no grip anywhere. Obviously the car with a certain set-up is very quick but what I was driving was not a winning car.

“It’s been the same for the last couple of races and I don’t know why because it is normally something I am pretty good at. I’m driving round 1.5 seconds slower than the leaders and one is my team-mate but I can’t go any quicker.”

Button’s post Canada debrief will have analysed why he had the problems with tyre degradation and will then look at solutions for Valencia which he can then try out in McLaren’s high-tech simulator at Woking before travelling out to Spain.

Button confirmed that the start point for this effort will be to work from Lewis Hamilton’s set up and then evolve from there, “The fist thing you do is set the car up like the other one and that’s how we’ll do it initially,” he said. “I won’t be as quick as him on those settings but then we can work from there and find a set up that works for me.”

It’s still early days in the championship, with 13 races still to go. A win or podium would put him right back into the hunt. He certainly can’t afford to languish in the doldrums for long.

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192 Comments
  1. IJW says:

    To be honest, I am surprise it isn’t a matter of course, that teams use the fastest set-up after Friday practice. I know drivers like their own set-ups, but if circumstances forces you to miss Friday practice, I would of thought using your team mates set-up would of been par for the course.

    1. Kay says:

      Having totally different driving styles, it doesn’t work for Jenson Button.

      However, if Lewis was to take Jen’s setup, it’d work for him.

      To be a good F1 driver you need to drive fast, which makes Button excellent given a good car. However, to be an elite you need to be adaptable, which Button is not.

      1. BBob says:

        Last year Lewis couldn’t come to terms with the cars as they were designed. He was beaten by his teammate so that’s proof. This year the rule changes and car’s new design suit him better so he’s not struggling as much. Last year Hamilton failed to adapt. This year it’s Button who’s struggling.

      2. James Allen says:

        I think Lewis lost many points last year due to incidents on track, not the car

      3. blackmamba says:

        @BBob – Last year Lewis did not struggle with the car as much as you are making it out to be. Lewis struggled with the fact that it simply was not as fast as the RedBull and over-compensated by trying too many risky moves, leading to crashes.He was not concerned about Button but rather a forever disappearing championship, while on the other hand Button was content coming second and picking up any points to beat Lewis. It tells you everything you need to know about the two drivers, doesn’t it?

      4. Harv says:

        To add to what James said, when was Hamilton EVER slower than a team mate, Button included? He might have been beaten in WDC points, but that had nothing to do with speed.

      5. Rossco says:

        Bad year for him last year, his worst in F1… so many incidents that partly were his/not his fault… Kay is completely right. The best drivers in F1 right now are Alonso and Hamilton hands down!

      6. Elie says:

        Lewis had penalties galore, on track incidents, and still managed the same number of wins as Jenson.There is no comparison- Lewis was very quick even last year !

      7. Joel says:

        Last year Lewis lost, yes lost, two of his best friends. I’m sure it would mess up my mind too. It only shows he is human too… as he lost his mind during the course of the season.

      8. QX9 says:

        I`m not sure about that. Lewis certainly had issues last year, but
        - driving slowly wasnt an issue Lewis had last year.
        - getting lapped by his team mate wasnt an issue Lewis had last year
        - not being able to qualify into Q3 wasnt an issue Lewis had last year
        - driving 1.5 seconds per lap slower than his team mate wasnt an issue Lewis had last year.
        - not being able to set-up his car wasnt an issue Lewis had last year
        - driving slowly in 4 consequtive races wasnt an issue Lewis had last year

      9. BBob says:

        QX(, as I remember it, Lewis LOST to his teammate last year. A teammate he was supposed to crush with ease mind you. Everything else is just noise.

      10. D@X says:

        Lewis was part of the stewards commitee last season, took too many risks and lost most of his points through incidents. LH is a much quicker driver, Jenson with a beautiful setup can do a lot of damaged but like Kay said, only elite drivers can dial around problems..Alonso and Hamilton. How fast? Well the Spanish grand Prix was a indicator, he started at the back of the grid and finished ahead of his team mate.

      11. Lewis’ biggest problem last year? Hitting Massa. :D

      12. Nick says:

        @blackmamba

        [mod]
        ” He was not concerned about Button but rather a forever disappearing championship, while on the other hand Button was content coming second and picking up any points to beat Lewis.”

        Really? And where exactly was it that Button stated to the world, as most Hamilton fanboys say, that he is happy coming second as long as he beats lewis?

        As a matter of fact, if i remember correctly, Button was fed up to the back teeth with comparisons made by the media between him and lewis, that when one reporter asked him about it, the normally very media savy and calm Button told the reporter that he didn’t give a f*ck about lewis and that he was just concentrating on his championship.

        Am I mistaken?

      13. AuraF1 says:

        If Jenson was so content with driving around safely and racking up points without incident last year some posters would need to address why he had the most competitive overtakes of the whole year. He was clearly driving more aggressively than before and avoided driving into everyone as much as Lewis.

        Lewis is faster than button (Lewis is probably the single fastest racer overall in the field though) but if jenson was such a lightweight he wouldn’t have managed more overtakes successfully. It’d be easy to dismiss button as just ‘lucky’ and Lewis as ‘unlucky’ but then you’d be ignoring actual form and statistics.

      14. john t says:

        Or it could be he was starting further back thus having easier overtakes!

      15. AuraF1 says:

        Lewis had plenty of opportunities to overtake last season – he just either held off, or ended up driving into something! It wasn’t like he was starting from pole every race either…

        Last year fastest laps – same for Jenson and Lewis at 3 a piece. Webber outdid them all though, racking up his little victories there…and if you want a fastest driver obsession – Massa had more fastest laps than Alonso last year!

        I guess the fastest driver isn’t always the best…

      16. Nathan Jones says:

        Fastest laps mean absolutely nothing in terms of who is the fastest driver. The real fastest drivers will probably be way up the road already and, either settling into a podium position and focusing on keeping it, or sufficiently in the lead to be able to totally back off.

        The simple fact that you are telling us that Webber had a bundle, and that Massa had more than Alonso, kills the whole ‘fastest lap equals fast driver’ story. When Alonso is leading a race, or Hamilton, how many times have they pushed to get the fastest lap in before the chequered flat? None that I can remember. That obsession seems to lie with Sebastian Vettel, who loves his achievement stats.

        Qualifying performance means far more. And in those stakes, Hamilton has royally panned Button, as you graciously concede, but Button IS a lightweight in this respect.

      17. AuraF1 says:

        Fastest laps meaning nothing at all was kind of my point! :) it’s just another meaningless stat that doesn’t stand against where people actually end up in the championship.

        I’m actually a Mclaren fan and have been since I started watching F1 (partly because I have had connections to the team since being a kid) I’m not a jenson defender showing bias (at least I hope not). I am happy whenever jenson or Lewis wins or has a championship chance. I just find this constant ignorance of facts to be irritating.

        I am well aware that Lewis is the faster driver and better qualifier but I find those dismissing button tend to know very little about racing, statistics, logic or the history of the racers they are dismissing!

        In fact I think there is no ‘perfect driver’ even senna had some major flaws if you speak to engineers and those with a grasp of history. The closest we probably have these days is Alonso who admits himself he is not the best in a single area but simply has no major weakness.

        I am happy to say that button is a better driver post 30 than before it. He’s a late bloomer as a total driver but still does not have the natural aggressive speed of Lewis. Even the biggest admirer of Button isn’t going to suggest any rubbish like that. I just find it odd that button has a poor run and it’s evidence he’s not good enough but Lewis has a poor run and it’s a conspiracy against him.

        But hey we all vary, that’s what keeps sport interesting I guess!

      18. QX9 says:

        One of the reasons Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher had many overtakes last year was due to the fact that they regularly had some bad qualifying sessions and then had to overtake slower cars on track.

      19. Valois says:

        More or less like Massa (fast in a good car) /Alonso (very fast and adaptable), perhaps.

      20. Nick says:

        @QX9

        As a matter of fact, Hamilton was saved by the red flag at Monaco from being lapped by Button last year. He was the last unlapped car and about 20m in front of Vettel, Alonso and Button before they all decided to have a pile up by the swimming pool.

        Another Hamilton fan who conveniently forgets some facts from last year.

      21. Smith says:

        @Nick

        You also seem to conveniently forget that Button was just purely slow enough to be lapped by Lewis and that wasn’t the case in Monaco last year.

  2. Tom in adelaide says:

    Is it correct that Lewis was/is running the old spec nose and that Jenson couldn’t use his set-up in the last few races?

    Surely McLaren are regretting their approach to the Italian test weekend?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      You just have to look at the car to know Lewis and Jensen are both running the higher nose.

      1. Tom in adelaide says:

        Thanks, didn’t catch the Canada race or quali.

      2. Kay says:

        If they were to run different noses you’d get to read about it online surely.

  3. phil says:

    I wonder at what point they’ll give up on him for this year, I hope it would be sooner than mathematically not being able to win the championship so at least one McLaren driver has the best chance of a WDC.

    1. Wayne says:

      Ok so Button is definitely not 2 seconds slower than Lewis, he’s not even 1 second slower than Lewis but HE IS slower when both of them perform at the peak of their powers. Last year was an anomoloy, Button had his best season ever and Lewis had his worst (and they were still fairly evenly matched!). Button did not beat Lewis last year, Lewis beat himself in my opinion. [mod]
      I just hope for McLaren’s sake they come up with the case to retain Hamilton, who else is free and can do what he can do in that car when he’s on it?

      1. Adam says:

        Give Jenson a car with a perfect setup to his liking, and he IS faster than Lewis. Problem is, that does not happen often, and Lewis is usually faster when adapting to a non-perfect setup.

      2. D@X says:

        “usually faster when adapting to a non-perfect setup.”
        Well a good driver is the one that drives around problems, with tyres being an issue this year, the fact remains you need to adapt quickly to changing conditions. If you remember Jenson has a calling card to the rain gods and has a good call at calling strategy in the rain. But Lewis will stick it out and pull performance were possible, you can see this character in Alonso as well. In F1 it’s becoming evident car driver and these days tyre combination is key.

        Most people predicted Lewis to fail badly due to his aggresive driving and Jenson to prevail due to being soft and easier on the tyres. So far Jenson is getting a beating and I’m sure he will bounce back to challenge his team mate. Though it’s not as bad as Massa!

      3. BBob says:

        Button beat Hamilton last year. Lewis has won one championship and he did it by the skin of his teeth. Button won his WDC by a much wider margin than Hamilton. Hamilton is fun to watch, but in terms of results, there are several driver’s on the grid now with much better track records. (Alonso, Schumacher, Vettel to name 3)

      4. Craig D says:

        I’m a fan of both drivers and don’t like to bash either, but to be fair Button, though certainly deserving, had a much more dominant car for his championship (in the early part particularly, which he nailed) and didn’t have the same level of competition. Though having said that, in 2008, Hamilton only had an in form Massa as competition and a slightly off form Raikkonon.

        With the level of competition this year, with the trio of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel on the top of their game, and nearly all the teams being so competitive, whoever wins the Championship this year will have won one of the toughest ones ever I feel.

      5. Ryan Eckford says:

        It is very hard to compare championships and cars.

      6. simon says:

        @BBob, your missing the point, when Lewis won the championship as you put it by the skin of his teeth,the Mclaren was not the dominant car, the Ferrari was just as good, When Jenson won the campionship the Brawn gp car was head and shoulders better than the rest of the grid, by mid season when the other teams had caught up Jenson was not enjoying the same domination. Jenson’s a good all round driver but needs the car set up just right for him, Lewis is a true racer pure and simple, whatever he’s in he will get the most out of it.

      7. BBob says:

        simon, sorry mate but i don’t think I’m missing the point at all…so you’re now saying that Lewis would have won by a bigger margin if the car was better in ’08? So then he does need a better car to win by more than just the skin of his teeth? Interesting….

      8. QX9 says:

        Are you sure you really want to compare the 2008 McLaren with the 2009 Brawn? :-)

      9. Jim says:

        Jenson’s best season was when he won the WDC with six victories.

      10. Craig D says:

        I think in terms of the competition and Button’s general form, last year was his most complete season. Many strong podiums, decent qualifying and exemplary wins in Canada and Japan too, let’s not forget.

        The competition was far less in 2009 with Red Bull still up and coming and Vettel still relatively inexperienced and learning, and Hamilton and Alonso neautralised. Not that I take anything away form his success. You can only win against what you’re faced with.

      11. Wade Parmino says:

        I know it’s harsh and I like Button’s driving style but sometimes I wonder if he was an ‘accidental’ champion in 2009. He was in the right car (and an excellent one at that) at the right time. But then when I remember Canada 2011, I recall a champion quality drive from Button. So it is hard to say whether he will ever win another championship.

        With regards to the current car. McLaren need to build cars that have a reasonable degree of flexibility in how they can be set up, so different driver’s styles can be catered for.

      12. simon says:

        Sorry Bob but i’m not sure you get where i’m coming from, you said Jenson won is championship by a much larger margin and Lewis won his by the skin of his teeth, what i’m trying to say is that when Lewis won, he was not driving a car that took the rest of the field half of the season to even get close to,he had to grind out the win, Jenson almost threw his championship away even though he had the best car by miles.
        I’m not trying to knock Jenson, when the car is set up and his confidence is high he is very hard to beat, but this year with the very narrow window of performance the cars appear to have for whatever reason, Jenson does not seem to be able to adapt as easy as a lot of the other drivers, Lewis tends not to moan about much and just tries to do the best with what he’s got.

    2. Jim says:

      Give up in what sense? Even if JB can’t win the drivers’ championship McLaren still have a big interest in the constructors’ championship.

    3. James Clayton says:

      Well Button isn’t really in a position to even help Lewis along at the moment…

      1. Simon D says:

        I hope he sorts himself out soon, 4 bad races so far if he takes a few more to get back on it (three) we will be at the half way stage. WCC wise Red Bull and even Lotus cud pull away

    4. Justin Bieber says:

      Oh please, you probably spent the last 2 years moaning about Alonso having it easy because Massa is going nowhere fast and proclaiming that McLaren is such a great team and have the moral high ground because they let both drivers race till the end of the championship.

      Dont worry, Lewis can win the WDC on his own.

      1. blackmamba says:

        It’s simple really. This year’s car is a definite contender for the championship so Lewis is NOT doing anything silly, unlike last year when the RedBull was so dominant which is why Lewis cares about even minor points this year. Take Barcelona for example, he could have driven that car in anger TRYING TO WIN, instead he saved his tyres inorder to get to ANY points scoring position, hence the widening gap btwn himself and Button.

  4. Aaron Gardner says:

    Hi James,

    I noticed in Canada that the mclearen were running more rear downforce than most of the other teams, how much would that effect the rear tyres, would it generate to much heat in the tyres or less and allow to much wheel slip in the rear tyres.

    The way i understand it, if the tyres has too little downforce then you get to much wheel slip then they overheat to fast, but that also be the same with to much downforce, pushing the tyre into the ground to much would also overheat the tyre.

    Jenson problem seams to be that he cannot get the front tyres up to temperature at the same rate as the rear tyres, there by overheating the rears tyres.

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Aaron,

      You are basically right about the downforce tyre wear bit, provided the “too little” downforce is at the rear relative to the front or vice versa. Poor balance will lead to one end getting over worked.

      Lower downforce levels lead to less wear and heat degradation due to reduced load on the tyres. You can see evidence for this if you look at the number of pitstops made throughout last years races. The new teams – which clearly have less downforce – often stopped less often than the front running teams.

      I’m curious in your observation on McLaren running more rear downforce than most other teams. On results in qualifying (lap times are an extremely good indicator), total downforce would seem to favour Red Bull, with Ferrari and McLaren similar. Were you judging wing sizes or car dynamics.

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. Aaron Gardner says:

        Hi Martin,

        There were a few comments on sky over the weekend on how much rear downforce the Mclaren was running and looking at the car, it was clear to see they were running a much bigger wing than most, would this not lead to the overheating problem Jenson is having,( too much rear downforce and too little front).

        It would seam that the front of the car is the problem, but with out see all the data Mclaren have on the car setup, we are just guesstimating, i am sure Mclaren will sort out Jenson’s problem, i for one hope they do

    2. Kay says:

      ” if the tyres has too little downforce then you get to much wheel slip then they overheat to fast”

      That’s where drivers abilities come into play and control their throttle. Too much then u’d spin your wheels, thus overcook them.

      Jenson’s problem however, is about rear grip. It could be wing issue, diffuser, all sorts of things, not necessarily solely down to tyres.

    3. Martin says:

      Hi Aaron,

      As you say it is difficult to guess what is going on.

      In Autosport magazine it says about Button: “He came into the race minus the electronic feature that has been on the car all year but which he’d reckoned after Monaco was giving him misleading feedback”. I don’t know what this device might be. Lewis also apparently had new rear suspension, with reduced anti-dive to aid traction. Button didn’t have time to try it out and didn’t run it. Reduced anti-dive would also increase front weight transfer under braking fractionally, aiding front tyre warm-up. I suspect anti-dive would help with rear stability, but I don’t understand the secondary effects.

      Going back over the race and qualifying results, I think McLaren still have an edge in high speed corners due to downforce, but Red Bull might have made greater progress in tyre warm up for qualfying. Red Bull probably went too far and degraded the longevity.

      I’m not convinced the McLaren has an excess of rear downforce compared to the front, as Hamilton does not seem to have to be doing anything to counter understeer, such as destabilising the rear under braking to promote turn-in oversteer (“backing it in”). Running a deeper rear wing, isn’t really the key here – the floor and the exhausts seem to the discriminator in performance to me. I suspect the wing shape is more about DRS philosophies, and that the eyeball engineering is a bit limited.

      It is hard to tell in the DRS era as we don’t get much top speed data with DRS closed, so it is difficult to compare the cars, to compare the drag in that situation.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        My understanding of anti-dive geometry is rudimentary at best, but I think the primary gains would be had through a more consistent ride height and pitch, giving more consistent underfloor downforce?

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Raymond,

        Yes you are right, it is pitch control that is the aim. I’ll do some more reading on it for my own understanding, but this article might interest you:

        http://www.modified.com/tech/0512_sccp_making_it_stick_part_4/viewall.html

        The anti-dive bit comes in part way down, and while the focus is on road cars, the principles are the same.

        Being geometric, you can get negative conseguences, and since it works by angling the planes of the wishbone arms through the centre of gravity of the car, so the wishbones are not parallel to each other, you get resistance to movement. F1 gets around this to a degree by using flexible arms rather than ball joints. The other factor is that since the fuel mass of 150 kg is so large relative to the mass of the car, the centre of gravity moves quite a bit.

        Cheers,

        Martin

  5. Richard says:

    Of course Jenson and his engineers were not to know how good Hamilton’s set was until after the event, and of course after qualifying they are pretty well stuck with what they’ve got so now they realy do have to go back to a default setting (Hamilton’s set up) and try to tune it for Button. The only criticism I can level at McLaren is that it has taken 3 races to come to that conclusion, but of course circuits vary enormously which can muddy the waters somewhat. I do hope Jenson can re-build his championship aims and also that McLaren can do likewise in terms of the constructors title this year.

    1. IJW says:

      With Lewis topping both the FP1 & FP2 time sheets, this should of told them that using his set-up as a “base-line” was the right way to go.

      1. Richard says:

        There is that, but free practice can be misleading, and Button didn’t get much running to compare, and I suppose they got distracted to a degree by other technical problems.

  6. Seán Craddock says:

    James, do you think the introduction of the new higher front wing affected Button? It didn’t seem to in testing but it went downhill for him once it was introduced

    1. Kidza says:

      To be fair, Jenson also struggled in Bahrain race and qualifying as well as China qualifying. That was before the new high nose.

  7. Mj says:

    Not a big fan of the knife edge setups this year. Every driver is at the mercy of them as we have seen. Bring back the tyre wars, better for us as we would see more seat of the pants driving, better for the teams.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      I’m not so sure that every driver has been at the mercy of these setups. Its broadly acknowldeged that Alonso, Lewis and Vettel are the quickest out and out drivers in F1. In line to what some others have commented on above, I think the current setups are allowing such drivers (i.e the most adaptable ones) to really shine, and the slightly lesser drivers are perhaps getting found out a little.

      Massa at least has found a bit of a response of late. Maybe Button will also be back on it, in a couple of races time.

  8. Tom says:

    The way I see it, this is identical to Ferrari’s troubles; both Massa & Jenson ‘require’ a planted/stable rear which is very demanding of the car… given the loss of EBDs & a natural tendency for front aero development, they will struggle.
    Throw in team mates with different driving styles and their only choice is to drive around the problem & neither one of them is adept at that!
    Massa’s Monaco setup was a step forward but it seems quite on-the-edge, looks quite stiff: difficult to save if it snaps, cooks the rear tyres. It’s a compromise & it sounds like that’s what Jenson has realised he’ll have to do.

    1. Søren Kühle says:

      Only difference is that Massa had a bad season event with EBD.. :)

  9. scottd says:

    I presume that a fundamental car issue such an imperfect chassis has been considered and discounted, a bit like Vettel’s problem in 2010. I would still be tempted to try out a brand new chassis just in case…

    1. IJW says:

      If it’s the same chassis he used in Australia, I would of thought the problem is either set-up, or the fact that he doesn’t like the new high nose. It does seem a bit of a coincidence that his form has gone downhill after the Mugello test.

      1. Kidza says:

        Not entirely true, Jenson was nowhere in Bahrain, before the new high nose!

      2. james h says:

        He had the high nose in Aus it was put on the car on the last day of pre season testing.In Aus jenson started 2nd on the grid then took the lead at the start.He then pulled away from lewis and lewis said after the race he could not match jensons pace.I think he is just having trouble with a set up direction hes going.H e needs to go back to basics and start from there.A good clean practice will help him do this.

      3. gondokmg says:

        I take it you mean’t he had the “low nose in Aus”, right? The high nose was only introduced at the Mugelo in-season testing and raced for the first time at Barcelona.

      4. Joel says:

        In Aus, Jenson and Lewis has a different front wing setup – Lewis mentioned that his front wing setup was the reason he was slow in Aus – it was sore after the race because it was a race he thought he would have won had it not been that issue.

      5. james h says:

        sorry your right they had the lower nose but removed the snow plough on the last day of testing.Sorry got a bit mixed up with my facts there

    2. colin grayson says:

      quite agree ; whatever the real reason a new chassis is a good first step

      1. Steven Pritchard says:

        God forbid the reason why Lewis was slower than Jenson was because he was errr slower. No the front wing, that’ll be the reason! Chortle.

  10. Steven Pritchard says:

    Getting the tyres working is the key. First race or two, Jenson has the measure of Lewis, and Lewis struggled a little on tyres.

    Then after major upgrade to the nose, the tyres have gone away from Jenson.

    This was obvious to me following Monaco, but McLaren are sometimes slugglish in responding to the basics.

    1. IJW says:

      Maybe what they need to do, is let Lewis continue with the current “B” spec car, and let Jenson go back to the “A” spec car, that he had in Australia.

      1. Sascha says:

        this would hamper the car development generally. JB should do like he said, and copy LH set up & try to drive like him

      2. Kay says:

        LH can handle a car that slides around. JB can’t and need a rear that’s glued to the track, so that wouldn’t work for JB.

      3. Wade Parmino says:

        That would be like asking Senna to drive like Prost or vice versa. Adapting your style has a limit. If Hamilton was asked to drive like Button and still be quick, he wouldn’t be able to.

    2. aezy_doc says:

      Really not convinced that Jenson has had the measure of Lewis this season at all. In Australia JB got the better start. That is the only occasion where he has gotten the better of Lewis this year. I don’t think he has out qualified Lewis at all and has finished ahead of him only twice. The second of these followed a grid penalty for Hamilton in China. I do hope JB sorts it out soon though.

      1. Nick says:

        Right, only the start, not the rest of the race where he drove away from Lewis repeatedly?

  11. Jamie says:

    Can’t the remember who F1 personality said this but good drivers drive around problems. Also, you’ll notice that most good drivers (in most Formulas) prefer the car being tail happy. Button’s style since his karting days has always been smooth – he could never handle a car that isn’t planted. By virtue of the McLaren’s suspension, he’s unfortunately just going to have to figure out a way to adapt. The car’s stiff suspension is tied hand in hand with the chassis & they’re not going to alter the chassis.

  12. db4tim says:

    O now you guys…what is really happening….Ron Dennis is quietly going in after hours and working on JB’s car….:):):)

  13. Will says:

    From the outside it appears as if Jenson in particular struggles when a car that isn’t set up exactly as he wants it. Do you think this is fair comment, James? Are other drivers better at finding the balance they need more consistently or are they just better able to cope when the car isn’t perfect?

    1. Trent says:

      He was visibly locking his front brakes more than any other driver at Montreal, as pointed out by Martin Brundle.

      There must be a reason for this?

      1. AuraF1 says:

        It’s been mentioned that Jenson has always preferred the less biting brake compound but has switched to Lewis style to generate more front tyre temp but lack of experience and comfort with this seems to have ratcheted up his lock ups. Odd because Lewis is more or less the Canadian lock up trademark holder!

      2. Wade Parmino says:

        The tightly sprung front end.

  14. Rob Newman says:

    It is strange. Button won the first round in Australia with the same car and he was also on the podium in China. So what exactly went wrong?

    He was never considered a top driver during his days at Williams, Renault and Honda. If it wasn’t for the early advantage in 2009, he would have lost the championship to Vettel.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with tyres as many people say and I don’t think the car also changed massively since the beginning of the year. Whatever it is, I hope he does get back to his winning ways soon and start taking points away from others.

    1. Richard says:

      Yes absolutely, nothing at all to do with the only four things that contact the ground in a machine traveling over 120mph on average through a race, or the only four things being talked about by every driver, or indeed the way the new aerodynamic set up from new parts has altered the balance of the car.

      Ultimately we all need to realise that F1 is very specialist and without a very superior car (or two) like we’ve seen in recent years, and with stable technical regulations, drivers will struggle or benefit from track to track. 6 races ago Lewis was being beaten by this guy! He’s not forgotten how to drive, and maybe Lewis is a tenth or so quicker in ultimate paste for whatever reason, but let’s all agree that Button is a magnificent driver and we should all look forward to all the drivers finding more regularly successful setups and even closer racing.

      Remember, 12 months ago Jenson wiped the floor with the lot ;-)

      1. Jan De Boer says:

        JB’s form has nothing to do with the tyres, wasn’t he the ‘smoothest’ driver last year?

        The main reason is that Blown Exhausts have been phased out. Which means the rear of the cars ‘dance’ a lot more. This sorts out the men from the boys. It’s no coincidence that the 3 best drivers on the grid are leading the standings…

        JB is good, on his day, but he ain’t great. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded

    2. iceman says:

      I have seen speculation elsewhere that it could stem from a rule clarification the FIA issued after the first few races, which resulted in McLaren having to slightly change their front splitter. After that Jenson seemed to start having the problem with heating the front tyres.

  15. Antonio says:

    I’m a bit tired reading excuses from the press for Jenson Button. Always blaming the car. If he’s a top driver like the British press wants us to believe,he should be able to perform decently with a bad car. Alonso had a dead car at the start of this season, you never hear him moaning like Jenson Button. He did the best he could with it so should Jenson Button. The car can’t be that bad when his teammate always qualify in the front row.

    [mod]

    1. Kay says:

      +1

      Massa being slow don’t moan and instead keeps saying he’ll figure it out, unlike JB.

      1. Basil says:

        Funny, Button does exactly the same as Massa and on top of it doesn’t blame the team like a certain Mr.Hamilton does.

      2. Nick says:

        Ummm…As a matter of fact, all Button says it that it’s not to worry, because he’ll figure it out.

    2. G Man says:

      I have to agree. If Jenson is such a great driver why can he not adapt to the car.
      Also i have to say in 2009 when Jenson won the championship, i thikn he was very lucky. At the start he had the best car. In the second half of the season he didnt win i single race. I remember it said on the BBC site that hamiltonhad actually score more point than Button in the seconds half.

      I honestly do not think Button is that great a driver. In a perfect car he is good but to be called one of the best you have to be able to deal with the car you have, which he cannot.
      Hamilton and Alonso are the best at the mo with Vetel just behind.

      1. Paul Walker says:

        and over the last 7 races of 2006, JB in the Honda RA106 scored more points than Alonso.. are we to say that Alonso lucked into that championship ???

  16. Simeon Nechev says:

    “So why was this much less of a problem for him in the earlier races? Jenson and McLaren would probably love to know the answer to that too. But there is at least one key rival convinced it has something to do with an FIA clarification made during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend regarding the McLaren’s splitter aft of the nose.

    It’s believed McLaren was taking advantage of the production tolerance allowed for the floor – which has to be flat but which is allowed a few millimetres tolerance – by considering the splitter as part of the floor. The clarification put a stop to this. McLaren insists this had no serious impact upon the car’s aerodynamic performance, but others are less sure. Could it have allowed just enough rake on the car for even Jenson to get the front tyres up to temperature? It’s only a theory. But at the time of writing, theories were all even Button and the team had.”

    Article on sky sports…no one saw this?

    1. blackmamba says:

      So how come the other car is no affected to the same degree?

      1. Craig D says:

        Go read the rest of the article on sky sports. Drivers don’t share the same driving style you know…

      2. Simeon Nechev says:

        Lewis can heat up his tyres with his aggression in tyre warm-up…

  17. aezy_doc says:

    Really not convinced that Jenson has had the measure of Lewis this season at all. In Australia JB got the better start. That is the only occasion where he has gotten the better of Lewis this year. I don’t think he has out qualified Lewis at all and has finished ahead of him only twice. The second of these followed a grid penalty for Hamilton in China. I do hope JB sorts it out soon though.

  18. Osvaldo da Rosa says:

    This is really hurting the Championship for Mclaren, Butoon hasn´t really scored any good points lately. He is at Mclaren and he is a BIG boy, he should be able to find a good set up by hinself. In the beginning people use to say that Hamilton just used Alonso set ups and Use it better. lol

  19. Alex says:

    Strange..last year LH struggled and everybody was talking about what a great driver Button was, how good he was at setting up car’s and how great he was at nursuring tyres while LH did not know how to get the best of his car…
    This year the situation is the other way around and nobody gives credit to Hamilton for doing exactly what people said Button was doing last year,the story is qhat is wrong with Button and not how great is Hamilton at setting up his car.
    Strange.

    1. blackmamba says:

      Actually they are blaming the car, conveniently forgetting it’s the same car Hamilton is driving?

      1. Alex says:

        Of course.
        Is hard for some people to admit that he knows how to set up the car,nurse the tires and be clever. It happened to Senna too.

      2. acherco says:

        the problem with button is the top drivers have up the anti which makes it difficult for him and the average drivers. They do this by scoring points even when their car is not competitive enough. Hamilton doesn’t see button as a competitor, he sees vettel, and Alonso as the competition. Can you imagine McLaren without hamilton? Look at Barcelona, Hamilton started last and scored a point. Button started 10th and got nothing because he couldn’t manage his tyres. The deference is that Hamilton can drive buttons car and be competitive
        but I strongly doubt whether button can drive Hamilton’s and this is coming from a button fan.

      3. tm says:

        I am absolutelly not sure that he is driving the same car…

    2. Craig D says:

      Oh please. A Hamilton fan viewing things as they want to see it – typical.

      No praise for Hamilton? What about the race report and the celebration of his performance there, or him topping the driver of the day poll. Hamilton gets the kudos he’s due and is treated as fairly as the others – certainly here.

      This article is about one driver’s recent continued struggles and the possible reasons, especially in light of a strong start to the season. If you want the article to instead be accolading Lewis, then that’s suggesting you’re wanting the converse article, i.e. the praise of all drivers accept Button! Oh where then I wonder are the other camps of fans crying ‘Why aren’t you writing about fabulous Grosjean and Perez, or the wonders of Kovalainen and his starring bit-part backstage?’

      [mod]

      1. Stickymart says:

        Craig, I have to agree with you here and i’m a huge Ham fan. It irks me somewhat when people try to bring up comparisons with Hamilton’s season last year and say Lewis has been hard done by. It’s simply not the case.

        Button is struggling because the car doesn’t quite suit him and he is trying to get to grips with it and move forwards, he is still a good driver and i’m sure he’ll come back as soon as he get’s the chance to set his car up right.

      2. Basil says:

        Absolutely agree! Most Hamilton fans seem to be paranoid and quite hateful. What a sad bunch of people.

      3. Nathan Jones says:

        As a dyed-in-the-wool Hamilton fan, even I have to concede that, superficially, it does seem like we are a bit angry at the world. But there is no question at all that we are creatures created by the UK F1 press from when they went on their Lewis Hamilton witch hunt, and turned the McLaren team into Saint Button of Frome, and Anti-Christ Hamilton.

        Even now I confess to seething [a little] everytime I see the journos cutting yards of slack for JB, knowing that my boy will be beaten from pillar to post if he steps a micron out of line at the next race.

        I would point out most/all the BBCF1 crew as being the principal Dr Frankensteins who created us Monsters.

      4. tharris19 says:

        Where is your data to support “most” Hamilton fans. I would say a healthy number of his fans, this one included don’t compare Lewis to his team mate. If they have been watching him race for a while they know better.
        We understand that Jenson’s issue is the car not Lewis. We also understand that Lewis’s internal (McLaren) issue is Whitmarsh. I believe we – as fans – have come to accept all of this and simply enjoy watching him drive his car to the limit and on occasion win races. The rest of this stuff is not worth losing a nap over.

  20. Adam says:

    James

    Definitely looks like something has changed on the car (around the time of the revised front end) that does not suit Jenson. Can he go back to the old version – are there regulations preventing the two cars from being too different, or is it just a complexity overhead for the team to run different spec cars?

    1. blackmamba says:

      The development cycle for the ‘old version’ has come to it’s natural end, in other words there is no other direction to take it to. If they went back to it they will find it is by mow as much as 2 seconds behind the others since they have been developing their cars as well!

  21. Show_Pony says:

    F1 has gone through an era of superb rear grip with the double diffuser followed by the exhaust blown diffuser, it suited Button and he has had the best period of his career.

    Forget early season results they are often spurious.

    Hopefully he can find an improvement where he can at least start scoring points or delaying Hamiltons rivals after they pit.

  22. Pat Byrne says:

    A great driver – hell even a ‘very good’ F1 driver – needs to be adaptable. It is a term that is underused in F1 but it’s what sets the likes of Alonso and Hamilton on a higher level (Vettel I just don’t know TBH).

    Button is one of the least adaptable drivers I’ve seen.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It’s said a lot but then we’d have to call Schumacher and Raikkonen poor adaptors too. Look at their recent ups and downs. Why can’t these two average WDC’s consistently drive round car problems?

      That’s sort of the problem with cliches – it applies to everyone at some point.

  23. Nil says:

    Off-topic comment here James. Can you tell us what’s going on at Lotus with Kimi? Is there any substance to the rumors that there’s some friction? Could you do a piece on that? Thanks.

    1. James Clayton says:

      I’d imagine there must be friction. Kimi consistently complaining about his steering, missing practice sessions while they fit yet another revised unit, while his supposed no2 (who is much lower paid and costing the team a lot less in steering r&d!) is just getting on with the job. And doing pretty well when not involving himself in incidents!

  24. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Somebody has to say it, Witmarsh was wrong when hired Button.
    Jenson had potential before Brawn, and the best car in 2009.
    In 2010 the McLaren was a front-runner but Button got only P5 in the championship.
    In 2011 he has a decent car and just took advantage of a bad year from Hamilton, but always he remainded so far from Vettel.
    Now in 2012 what?
    [mod]

    1. Kay says:

      Well I’ve said that many times before LOL glad there’s someone else who shares a common view.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      In 2010 Lewis got 4th place. It was a mistake to hire him, there were 3 drivers in front of him including mark webber and fernando alonso. Ron Dennis should have ditched Lewis and kept alonso.

      See? Logic for children is easy!

      1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        Logically, Lewis was better than Alonso in 2007! And he was Champion for McLaren, it is not the case of Witmarsh and Button.

    3. scottd says:

      “Witmarsh (sic) was wrong when hired Button”.
      Yes, hiring a driver who placed 2nd in the WDC last year (and not far short of Lewis the year before) and who has had a few poor results so far this season was a terrible decision. What were they thinking of…?

      1. Basil says:

        Lewis fans are quite a sad bunch of “people”!

      2. Jan De Boer says:

        Let’s keep the discussion constructive!

      3. tharris19 says:

        I disagree Button was a good hire. Whitmarsh’s expectations of him are exaggerated. He wanted a driver who view on life and profession are similar to his own. Listen to his interviews and he will tell you all you could want to know about how he feels about his drivers.
        His problem is Lewis is just too good to discount. Every time he wins or get a lot of points and Jenson does not Whitmarsh hurts. Listen to him.

  25. Sascha says:

    Here goes(forever) the myth of Jenson Buttons great car development & set up skills. I hope with the quote he goes to copy Lewis set up because he has no clue , even the experts who said it’s Lewis who uses to copy Buttons set up are shut up forever.
    Seems like Lewis is better than the most thoughtof him , even Button himself.

    1. Vinola says:

      You are right. But, I’d like to point out that more objective people in the know have consistently rated LH a better driver (Alonso, and other respectable drivers,for example). What’s been going on is a few people in the press doing a bit of a revisionist bent in elevating JB. No doubt, he’s done a solid job, but he’s not the same calibre as LH, Alonso, or Vettel. BTW, their salaries reflect that as well. If you think f1 teams like throwing money around, think again.

    2. Wade Parmino says:

      Senna used to copy Prost’s set up, until he learned how to do it himself. The same thing has happened with Hamilton perhaps.

      1. thest1g says:

        ha ha funny comment this. So i suppose he won the 2008 title by coping Heikki’s setup. In any case, JB and LH have different driving styles, why would LF copy JB’s setup? Sorry mate but LH is just a better driver. i am sure JB will be the first to agree to that.

        On a different.I love how we never hear “JB the tyre master” from the experts, or how Lewis is too aggressive on his tyres. Some thing which was never founded on evidence.

      2. Nathan Jones says:

        + a few

      3. Wade Parmino says:

        2010 Spain: Hamilton drove his tyres to death, the front left had nothing left in it and he put it in the wall on the second last lap.

        2010 Australia: Button made sure he was on the right tyres at the right time and won. An even better example was in Canada 2011 (granted he was gifted the win with Vettel’s mistake) but his drive was one of the best ever.

    3. jack faith says:

      also, let’s not forget Button also having to copy Barrichello’s set-up halfway through the 2009 season.

  26. Dan Orsino says:

    Jensen has said it is definitely not the tyres. If a driver is doing what he did before but failing to achieve the same result, then surely this is a challenge for the engineers.
    Is it not they who have to find the answer, and pronto?

  27. Gudien says:

    Curious how Papa Ron Dennis arrives for the race in Canada and lo and behold Lewis Hamilton picks up his pace.

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s been at quite a few races this year…

      1. Kay says:

        Talking of which… Ron is a bit more vocal lately, isn’t he? :D

        Is he getting back to being more involved in F1 operation again? Or he’s just purely visiting as VIP and not trying to affect the F1 operation of McLaren?

      2. James Clayton says:

        Yes I’ve noticed he’s been doing interviews recently; something he’s not done for a long time

  28. AH says:

    Well what i could notice, is that when the Macca had the lower node with the snow plough it generated a huge amount of downforce in front which ment that Buttons “lean” driving was good at keeping the life in them and by the downforce they would heat up fast enough. In other words that low nose worked better with buttons lean driving style.
    With the switch to the higher nose, where the effect was lower downforce levels in front for the gain of downforce back, resulted in buttons problems in heating the front tyres. Hamiltons aggressive driving style heats the fronts quickly and them gets them in working window.
    Button needs to change his driving style to adapt to these changes, i mean it is a GP winning car, he cant cruise around 2s slower per lap and complain about the setup.

  29. Methusalem says:

    James, Germany’s ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ reported that McLaren is using a system that controls the flow of heat from the brakes into the difficult-to-manage Pirelli tyres. What is this all about?

  30. zx6dude says:

    Surely the mark of a good driver is to be able to adapt to the car and conditions around him/her. Jenson doesn’t seem to be able to do this. Take Alonso – and I’m not an Alonso fan – he seems to squeeze the most out of any F1 car he gets into. And the McLaren F1 is not exactly a rubbish car…

    1. Trent says:

      But is it?
      An interesting discussion point – who’s best out of a driver who can blitz the field in a car to his liking, or a driver who’s more consistently good in any given machinery?

      I guess that’s what people are asking about Michael Schumacher now.

    2. Kay says:

      Yup!

      Put Alonso in Button’s seat and hell it’d be a repeat of 2011 domination in Alonso’s favour. :D

  31. Serrated_Edge says:

    I’m not sure that Jenson’s race engineer (Dave Robson) is a good match for Jenson.
    As someone has mentioned Mclaren seem slow at getting the basics right at times and seem slow when it comes to thinking on their feet.
    Look at Rob Smedley at Ferrari who is always urging Massa to do better over the radio.
    Perhaps Mclaren should consider a shake up on Jensons side of the garage?

    1. John_C says:

      Yes, I can well imagine Jenson’s response to a Smedley style radio message. I’d imagine it would be two words, the second one being “off”.

      No criticism of Rob Smedley there, I have a huge amount of time for him, but Jenson doesn’t need that sort of help.

      Jenson needs to get the car dialled in to his driving style, but I’m not sure how they can achieve that consistently without a lot of testing mileage and some design changes.

      I hope I’m wrong.

    2. TheBestPoint? says:

      Robson is brilliant strategy wise which is why Jenson tends to make up ground in races.

      Your comments are interesting though because setup wise- they really have been struggling these past 4 races – and you can’t apply strategy when the car is undrivable (in one driver’s hands at least).

      Lewis’ engineer on the other hand I don’t rate strategy wise, notwitstanding canada- however considering how well their saturdays have been, minus a fuel technicality or two, you have to say that Latham is great with setting up a car.

      solution: swap both engineers for a period and see what difference if any it makes to the driver.

      1. tharris19 says:

        Forget it. When Jenson came to McLaren Whitmarsh purposely tore down Lewis’s team support in order to give Jenson an “equal” chance with the team. He made Phil Pew, Lewis’s engineer, the head race engineering at the races he took another experience engineer ( Jacobson ? )and made him Jenson’s engineer. This left Lewis with Latham.
        I am not saying Latham is a bad engineer because I don’t know that. I do believe that any change in Lewis’s current support group to support Button could surely lead to Hamilton leaving McLaren and I for one would not blame him.

      2. Steve Mc says:

        Wow. Are we suggesting that people aren’t allowed to make progress in their careers and, if they do, it’s not because of the valued contribution they’ve made to the company but rather a conspiracy to ensure the company doesn’t perform to its full potential?

        Crikey.

    3. Ben says:

      I remember an interview with Hamilton last year on the beeb and he was saying one of the reasons Button was beating him was because of the crew he had around him and that he was jealous of his engineers…

      1. tharris19 says:

        I remember the statement. But he (Hamilton)didn’t say he was jealous. However, the core of Jenson’s engineering team had been a part of Lewis’s since 2007.
        I think that the kind of changes that have taken placed in the racing team over the past four years has caused a level of instability in the team as a whole.

  32. VanDhloms says:

    This could explain Buttons problem with the car. James do you have any intel on this issue?
    http://www.forumula1.com/news/report-reveals-mclaren-tyre-temperature-trick/

  33. Thompson says:

    its a bit early to be writing Button off, last thing he needs is this sort of speculation on his performance. Maybe this is his bad luck for the year.

    Saying that if the two sides of the garage are not sharing setup now since Buttons good year last season….we could be seeing what most were predicting would happen when he went to Macca…… :0

    1. Kay says:

      it’s a bit early?

      Button has been in F1 for over 10 years and having watched him since his early days up till now, it’s clear that Button is overrated.

      Yes he can deliver, only when given a good car that he likes. With a bad car, he cannot drive around problems and still push the hell out of the car. Whereas Hamilton, Alonso, and possibly Vettel and still adapt and drive the maniac max out of it. That’s the difference between Button’s performance and the other three I mentioned above.

      And if you’ve noticed, especially since his title winning year 2009 (forget the Honda years coz the car was crap and you can’t really tell whether it’s car or driver), generally Button’s performance fades in the second half of the year. He just can’t do it as soon as the season hits mid-point. This year this drop off started even sooner and came after Australia.

      I’m not writing Button off, given a good car he’ll still deliver, but his performance are sure not on elites’ level.

      1. newton says:

        “generally Button’s performance fades in the second half of the year.”
        yeah, like last year’s second half for example:
        1, 3, 2, 2, 1, 4, 2, 3, 3
        Appalling.

        lol.

      2. Kay says:

        Read. I said ‘generally’.

        Cheers!

      3. David A says:

        Well, in 2009 and 2010 JB did fade in the second half of the year.

      4. newton says:

        Your judgement is ‘since 2009′ so that would be 2010 where he tailed off, and 2011 where he didn’t.
        There is no ‘generally’ to be found there.

        Had some time to kill so I thought I’d check…

        out of his 12 complete seasons, he has had more points + better finishing positions in the second half of the season on 7 occasions, vs 5 seasons where he ‘tailed off’.

        He only tailed off in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

        Just a quick comparison not including retirements, but taking the mean finishing position. Where there was an odd number of races in a season I omitted the central race.

        for 2002 and 2004, the 1st/2nd half results have almost identical average finishing positions.

        So your ‘generally’ impression is probably based on the 2008-2010 period.

    2. Paul Walker says:

      yes, that’s right, JB tailed off terribly in the last nine races of 2011… I mean

      2 x 1st, 3 x 2nd, 3 x 3rd and 1 x 4th place … absolutely terrible ….

  34. Craig D says:

    Well things have been poor of late but I’d be surprised if Button’s whole season is like this. I think his technique for tyre preparation in qualifying has a large part to blame in not getting them into the window. I expect things will improve in a couple of races, or on hot tracks, since the car is decent and he’s not that much slower than Hamilton in outright pace. He was able to perform with this car in the first 3 races and even with the recent updates, it’s not going to be a fundamentally different car.

    With the Championship the way it is, he’s by no means out it, though with the closeness of the competition, we may as well talk about the likes Rosberg or Raikkonen being Championship contenders as well, if we are him. I think it’ll be between Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso ultimately. But it changes so much. After Melbourne all the talk was of a McLaren inter-team battle. What’s ‘trending’ change so much from race to race to allow any concrete and rigid opinions to form. For example, Maldonado was a hero a month ago, and now he’s back into obscurity. Best to stay open-minded on driver/team form methinks!…

    And so I think after a quiet race I’ll pre-empt the news early and big up Vettel on a dominating Valencia performance and the ‘Unstoppable German and Red Bull combination’! :)

  35. Andy R says:

    James, any views on Button’s form being affected due to missing the Mugello Test?

    I feel Button being more affected by set-up over Lewis, missing a test isn’t affecting Lewis as much as it’s affecting Jenson.

    Maybe the Hungary road-show and the “I have 6% fat in my body” marathons are his ‘distractions’ this year. (Although the Hungary road show was the teams call, but that could have been done a week/day before the practice itself!)

  36. K Barratt says:

    Button stroked his way to his world championship and doesnt have the tallent to drive around problems! Lewis Hamilton does enough said!

    1. tamzed says:

      Sure , Lewis can drive around AND INTO problems like he did last year .

  37. AH Jordan says:

    James, I’ve seen a few references on other sites to an “electronic gizmo” that McLaren have on the car which Jenson feels might be throwing off his feel for the car and causing him to go the wrong way with setup (to the extend that Sky reported him as taking it off the car for Montreal).

    Have you heard anything about this and can you shed any light onto what the “gizmo” might be???

  38. Armchair Critic says:

    Jenson has recently said that the lost setup time during practice contributed to his problems in the race.

    I am just wondering if it would have been better for him to treat the race as a test session. rather than running around outside the points. Would it not have been a good opportunity to try different settings with different fuel loads and tyres?

    My theory is that he would have been last but would have useful data for the next races.

  39. Ebi Bozimo says:

    Jenson Button is a better driver than virtually EVERYONE commenting on this website. However, in the world of elite drivers that is Formula 1, he’s more likely upper middling at best.

    I believe the Mclaren, far from being the ‘fastest car’, is actually somewhere between Button’s and Hamilton’s pace which means Hamilton, in achieving his qualifying results, and being relatively consistent near the front, is actually ‘over driving’ it (whatever that means).

    However, because the press has inexplicably, persistently and optimistically propagated the ‘tyre whisperer’, ‘intelligent, on the go strategy maven’ narrative for Button, and the ‘tyre destroyer’ myth for Lewis, there is surprise at Button’s performance and insufficient appreciation of Hamilton’s achievements.

    I’ve no doubt that Button will come good working with Mclaren’s formidable engineering experience and expertise (and remain BETTER than EVERYONE commenting). I just wish journos including JA would write about what we are seeing and not what they might be wishing.

    1. For Sure says:

      Hang on a sec. Just because I am not a plastic sugeron, doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to say someone messed up Tara Reids face.

    2. Vinola says:

      There is NO question there are journalists out there propagating a very ACTIVIST, exaggerated view of JBs performances. Ironically, with their actions they have turned a good number of people against JB- those who otherwise respect and appreciate his performances. On the flip side, LH great performances are reported factually, seldom glowingly- and his poor performances, well we all know the narratives. Take our host for example, I love his work, insight and pure writing skills. But just review the headline news and the text of archived articles describing race outcomes this year (just this year, fresh in our minds):
      1. **Bragging rights** at Maclaren go to Button….goes on to emphasize JB “beating” Lewis
      2. Alonso **Transforms form book on its head**….Alonso gets heaps of deserved praises in the text
      3.Rosberg converts 1st pole….”faultless drive” and other positive driver attributes in the text
      4. “Faultless Vettel hold off….ditto
      5.Maldonado makes Williams winners again with **Brilliant win**…ditto
      6. Webber doubles up in Monaco to become winner…plain headlines made up with good driver attributes in the story
      7. Hamilton Sticks to Plan A and wins Canadian GP…

      No fancy adjectives in the headlines or story about driver attributes. Rather, he stuck to team plans and won. Nothing to do with him.

      See the article describing his exceptional poll performance in Spain (later disqualified)…”Hamilton couldn’t believe his **luck* in being so far ahead his opponents…

      Its subtle,heck, I don’t even think its intentional, but that’s how it comes across.

      Now, people are free to admire different styles of racers. I liked Prost, but preferred watching Senna. I also recall the rather slanted news coverage he got in the press. Of course, much of it is now changed.

      1. James Allen says:

        I’ve just about stopped laughing now. Thanks for brightening my morning

      2. Ebi Bozimo says:

        James, anything to get you laughing ;) but what Vinola says is actually quite revealing. I’m glad he made reference to your headlines from just this year alone. Last year, it was quite interesting! The narrative then on JAF1 was Button was a ‘god’ in motion, always able to take the ‘lead’ and ‘direct’ the teams strategy while ‘thinking on his feet’. Hamilton on the other hand was often characterized as ‘limited’ in that ability, a ‘tyre thrasher’ and completely dependent on team instructions during a race. Perhaps, as Vinola says, it is unconscious, but it is something to think about. I repeat that while ALL of these guys are GREAT drivers, a few of them are phenomenal.

      3. James Allen says:

        Total nonsense. People read whatever they want to into every story. I call it as I see it and I’m comfortable with that

      4. Vinola says:

        Glad I did, second time in as many years!

      5. TheBestPoint? says:

        Then could we have a bragging rights article for hamilton? Especialy as he at least managed 3rd when Button won.

      6. Vinola says:

        Well, there are a couple of possibilities; a) you could be right, this is “total nonsense” or b) there is substance to justify my statement/view. We could explore this hypothesis a couple of ways; a) a quick poll here to gauge readers’ “perception” of the coverage of these drivers. Of course, this is subjective, but no less important since it may fairly represent people’s perception. b) If I had more time, I would love to do a more objective analysis of the coverage of these drivers on these pages. But if someone wants to take it on, here’s an idea. First, define words that equate “positive driver attributes”, e.g, brilliant, faultless, intelligence, racecraft etc. Pull all archived articles describing final qualifying sessions and races over a defined period (this year for example). To truly blind, de-identify drivers, but match their codes to qualifying and race final positions. Have a number of people count “positive attributes” per driver and correlate to race or qualifying outcomes. You could adjust for words per article. One could in addition, characterize the negative outcomes; identify sub par performances (qualifying and races) and count # of times the following phrases are used- “”couldn’t heat tires”, “couldn’t find balance”, “couldn’t find pace”..etc are used. My predicted outcomes are that JB has disproportionately high positive attributes for good performances AND disproportionately high “explanations” for sub par performances. A cynic might say so what?. If the results are as I hypothesize, I’d submit it would support my view.
        The poll might be a good first step though and it may be insightful.

      7. JustGuessing says:

        Vinola Reply:
        June 19th, 2012 at 12:12 am

        What you’re describing is what humans do automatically, it’s called tribalism. A tribe can be defined as the smallest group of people for mutual defence with sufficient genetic diversity. The anecdote goes; if everyone woke up one morning all the same colour, by mid day they’d have divided themselves up into tribal units based on the smallest differences. It’s a defence mechanism, useful in times past, but still powerful, if more subliminal today.In every such unit rejection of the ‘other’ is mandatory however silly it is. Wars have been fought over ludicrously minor differences.

        Whether bloggers are aware of it or not, they’re just as susceptible to tribal bias as the rest of us. Though JA “calls it as he sees it,” as do all the bloggers, the perception given (justified in MHO) is a tribal bias for JB as against LH.

        Having said all that, I’m new to this site (which is great by the way) and find it much more objective than others I could mention.

        England 2 : Ukraine 0

      8. Jan De Boer says:

        Vinola, as a Lewis fan myself, I understand what you are trying to say. HOWEVER, it is well documented that JA has a soft spot for Lewis…he just refuses to ‘gush’ about him in order to remain objective about the coverage and analysis on this site – which I totally respect.

        So, I think you’re being a bit unfair in your assessment.

  40. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    It’s all very simple isn’t it?
    Surely, it’s a limitation of the driver. We talk about “driving styles”, but fail to acknowledge that some drivers simply can’t deviate from THEIR driving style: ie: Button. That is why he is inconsitant. Give him a car that suits him, and the quickest out there. All the “great” drivers are able to adapt their style to suit the car, such as Senna, Clark, Fangio,Prost, Schumacher and even Alonso.
    They are fast in anything they put their bums in!
    Button can’t do that. End of story.

  41. JustGuessing says:

    @ Nathan Jones:
    June 15th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Have to agree with your comments re. Jurno’s treatment of Hamilton vs Buttons on their failures: merciless criticism against suffocating sympathy. Ham fans aren’t (always)reacting against Jenson but the disparity in journalistic treatment of two drivers.

    Button can (and will) out drive anyone on his day but can you imagine the headlines if Ham was having Jenson’s current problems.

  42. Nismo + F1 says:

    From: http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=11755&start=2640
    “It’s believed McLaren was taking advantage of the production tolerance allowed for the floor – which has to be flat but which is allowed a few millimetres tolerance – by considering the splitter as part of the floor. The clarification put a stop to this. McLaren insists this had no serious impact upon the car’s aerodynamic performance, but others are less sure. Could it have allowed just enough rake on the car for even Jenson to get the front tyres up to temperature? It’s only a theory. But at the time of writing, theories were all even Button and the team had”.

    James, this probably explains the issues Jenson is facing as his practice run was cut short due to technical problems. But Jenson Pace has alarmingly faded badly lately.

    One more thing James, can you please provide us details if this is true that Mclaren have been told to get rid of this splitter on the floor area? as since the high nose we cant see the splitter?

    If we remember, Jenson has had similar problems during his Brawn championship year.

  43. tsheporam says:

    Clearly Button is inot F1 material, his time of reckoning has come, no amount of plotting from Whitmarsh will help him this time as Twitmarsh’s job is on the line as well and helping Button can only mean relegating Hamilton to something way below tenth position, that would just be the end of twitmarsh!

  44. Guy Baker says:

    Firstly, I am a McLaren fan. Second, I admire the relationship between Lewis and Jenson. They are true sportsman. Third, I was in Montreal – bravo for those that kept the peace.

    All that being said, both McLaren drivers are true competitors. Who else had a bad day in Montreal? How about MS? In fact he has had a terrible season, punctuated with moments of brilliance.

    The point is all athletes have a slump, sometimes of their own making (LH last year). Jenson is a competitor and will be back. Count on it!

  45. tm says:

    I can’t fully agree with this analysis. Button’s drop of form did not happen from Round One (which could be a logical explanation if it was all about setup/adaptation/tyre management), but rather from round 4 onwards. To be more precise: it happened earlier when JB made an uncharacteristic mistake of running into Karthikeyan in Malasaya. Other teams in such cases have looked if there was something wrong with the chassis and produced a new one (Ferrari fo Massa). I still think it is a chassis or team management problem, because you can’t become 1,5 seconds slower overnight

    1. Dave Deacon says:

      +1

  46. Nathan Jones says:

    James, do you have a view on the Hamilton/Whitmarsh relationship?

    Logically, MW should be chuffed to bits with Lewis: he is always in the mix somewhere at the end of the season, and he brings the fight to every race. But when you hear him wax lyrical about Button, it seems like there is only one driver in the team.

  47. Oliver says:

    Excuses and Excuses.
    If he had a perfect car. If he had his rear planted. If he could get heat into his tyres. If he could find grip.
    This is the driver who lucks into a race win on a wet weekend because he had burnt his intermediates, and all we hear is he was so intelligent during the race.
    Why can’t he use that intelligence to out drive an ill handling car.
    The best drivers mask the deficiencies of their cars, while the average will advertise those deficiencies.
    Button is good no doubt, he is much better than Brundle ever was, perhaps he is at par with an in form Coulthard. But anything else is just wishful thinking. Antony Davidson is even faster than Button.
    It is laughable to find the inexperienced followers equating finishing position to speed. A perfectly timed safety car can take a driver from a lap down to being right behind the lead driver, with no need to have lapped the circuit 50s faster than everyone else.
    Should Hamilton leave Mclaren, Withmarsh will find out he had just purchased a turkey instead of an eagle, to carry the hopes of the team.
    Button said he must win the championship this year, “No excuses”. Well we are watching.

  48. Chris says:

    Jenson is excellent at getting a car right and will crack this McLaren. People who can set cars up are rare, and they are what I would call specialists in the field. Lewis is not one of them. A good example is Damon, booted out of Williams, and with him went Williams last driver that could truly do it. Arrows started to show the effect of a guy who was great it, and Jordan had their best years with Damon as a driver (and yes I know 99 was a poor year for him, but look what happened to Jordan when he left). I think Frank realised how great Button COULD be at it and tried to resign him.

    Mansell, Prost and Senna were all specialists to, and Damon apprenticed under all of these. Schumi & Alonso are the other drivers in the field who shine at doing this.

  49. Dave Deacon says:

    Such venom against JB is unwarranted and prevalent on other sites as is the unctuous praise for LH. Reason goes out the window and vileness prevails. Seems people have an agenda. Pity. I have no doubt JB will be back as soon as McLaren settle their issue with LH. I think LH was on another emotional downer and JB’s successs this years is the price to retrieve LH from that. If SV had not had such a dominant Newey car last year, then JB would have been WDC. First beat your team mate – he did that and not by luck. Fast alone is not quick enough…

    1. John says:

      Well said Dave. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    2. Jan De Boer says:

      Complete nonsense!

      Are you trying to convince everybody on here that McLaren are intentionally sabotaging Jenson’s car in order to emotionally ‘boost’ Lewis so he can re-sign with the Team? Pull the other one, mate!

      Last year, Lewis imploded. Jenson was consistent. That was the difference. This year, Lewis is back to his old self and a lot wiser. The evidence is in the results. I’m glad Jenson beat him last year because it has shown Lewis that the Sun doesn’t shine out of his a$%, and that if he doesn’t focus 100% on racing he WILL be beaten. I think he has learn’t his lesson…

  50. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Interesting that in an environment where JB should be doing well (ie conserving tyres) that its precisely this skill that is causing his problems.

  51. JB has two problems, one is where the engineering has gone and clearly at some point they took a wrong turn. Finding your way back when dealing with tenths and where every component impacts on another is tough, just as Raikkonen discovered in Montreal.
    JB has lost his mental mojo as he seeks to compare himself against his team mate and the other GP winners.
    His track record speaks for itself and he is treated with respect by all the other drivers.
    His challenge is to trust and relax into his driving. Sounds easy but it is the biggest challenge of all.

  52. tharris19 says:

    I will keep my comments restricted to the question about Jenson’s form. As I see it his form over the past five races is a reflection of weakness in the McLaren racing organization. He has not lost the ability to communicate what is happening with his car to his engineers. He definitely has not lost his skills as a driver. He is driving a car that his engineers don’t understand well enough to fix. This is a systemic problem at the MTC.
    Since 2007 the race management team has played a role in losing two WDC’s and possibly a third this year. If the WCC ended today they would lose the constructor’s championship because of race management issues. To make a long post short McLaren has done more damage to it’s racing efforts than any of their drivers.

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