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McLaren legend Ramirez on what Lewis still has to learn and life with Prost and Senna
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Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Sep 2012   |  1:13 pm GMT  |  195 comments

[Updated] Formula 1 sage and former McLaren team co-ordinator Jo Ramirez believes a failure to come to terms with the fact that he had been beaten by team-mate Jenson Button explained Lewis Hamilton’s tweeting of telemetry traces at Spa.

Hamilton endured a miserable weekend in Belgium at the start of this month, becoming embroiled in controversy over several messages posted to the social media site – all of which were ultimately taken down. Ramirez, a mainstay at McLaren for 17 years before retiring in 2001, reckons that the telemetry incident highlighted a general reluctance for the current generation of drivers to willingly acknowledge when they’ve been outpaced fair and square. He also suggested that it showed Hamilton still has to learn that being the quickest driver on outright pace isn’t always enough.

Speaking to the September edition of the JA on F1 podcast (which you can download here), Ramirez said: “Times have changed. I don’t know if it is all the media or the razzmatazz about Formula 1 now that it’s so much difficult for the driver to accept that he’s lost.

“Obviously that decision of who’s going to have the rear wing between Hamilton and Button was discussed among everybody. It’s not that there was only one rear wing, there were two, they were for both. But he decided that he was going to race with that. So he couldn’t live with that and shut up, no, he had to show the world why he’s lost, why his team-mate beat him.

“Perhaps it’s a little bit of political inside fight in the head between them. Maybe Button said ‘well, he didn’t like the other wing so much and he preferred that [high-downforce one] ‘– which was the wrong one – because I think Button is probably more clever on the car than Hamilton is.

“Hamilton is without a doubt much quicker but Button has shown many times, especially last year, that [it’s] not simple to be the quickest one is going to win races. So you need to have everything. “

Although the level of on and off-track the rivalry between the British pair hasn’t come close to that of McLaren’s previous all-world champion line-up of the late 1980s, Hamilton and Button’s contrasting individual driving styles and approaches do bare resemblance to those of their respective childhood heroes Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Ramirez was at the centre of extraordinary two-year Senna/Prost era at McLaren and reminiscing about their first season together on the podcast – when together they won 15 of the 16 race in 1988 – he told a great tale of how when his car was perfect, rather like Button, Prost was unbeatable.

“Senna was absolutely unbelievable on a qualifying lap, nobody could race that much of the car in a single lap like he could. Taking a second out of Prost in places like Spa or Monza where Prost used to set the standard was absolutely unheard [of] – incredible,” he recalled.

“But when you gave Prost a car that was completely to his liking no one could beat him, not even Senna. But how many times you have a car that is 100% to how you like it? Very seldom. But Senna used to adapt to the car. Whatever the car was doing, if he couldn’t change it, he would just adapt himself and that’s why he was so much better than Prost in those situations.

“The things like the French Grand Prix, when I’m saying about having the perfect car, Alain had the perfect car in the circuit at home where it gives you an extra adrenaline being at home. He took the car, put it on pole, came back, got off the car, took his helmet off and put his jeans and his T-shirt on and I said ‘you’re crazy, what are you doing? There’s still half an hour to go. We still have two sets of qualifying tyres.’

“‘No, no,’ he said, ‘I done the perfect lap. If he [meaning Ayton] can do better than that he deserved the pole. I cannot do any better’. The more Senna tried [to beat him] the slower he got and Prost got the pole. That was fantastic and Senna did the same to him in Portugal. To live that together it was an indescribable year.”


To hear the full interview with Ramirez and a host of other star F1 names check out the latest JA on F1 podcast, available to download directly here now or via iTunes.

 

* Hamilton was in India at the weekend for a promotional event ahead of the Indian GP next month.He said that his focus is on winning this year’s championship, which he feels he is in a strong position to achieve,

“The important thing is I’m 100pc focused on winning with this team. I don’t have a timeline. My focus is on trying to win this world championship. Of course I do have to have those things (contracts) sorted out, but I do have people in the background working on those contract negotiations.

“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of stories that aren’t true. We’re all wise enough to understand that what is written is not necessarily true,” Hamilton said.

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195 Comments
  1. cliff says:

    Clearly everything Hamilton related is guaranteed to bring the necessary traffic on any website. Come on James! There is nothing new in this piece that those who already listened to the podcast and followed the last few weeks dont know. Surely this fixation with Hamilton is becoming quite tiresome methinks. Then again there are not a lot of F1 stories this weekend, so needs must I guess.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not at all. Do you imagine everyone conj g to the site today has heard the podcast?

      It raises some interesting points which fill out the picture post my story on Hamilton from Tuesday

      1. I agree James, I haven’t heard the podcast and I found Jo Ramirez’s points of view very interesting.

        Keep up the great blogging.

      2. Ahmed says:

        Its a nice article, thanks! (I’ve been meaning to listen to the podcast but haven’t gotten round to it… so this is much appreciated!)

      3. James Allen says:

        Please do get round to it- it’s worth it!

      4. ArJay says:

        ‘To every season – churn, churn, churn’
        (Forgive the paraphrasing)

      5. Tim says:

        James, you’re absolutely correct. This is a fresh & extremely knowledgeable insight from a former professional of the sport. Your readers would never be able to learn so much without your efforts. Please continue the terrific articles & podcasts.

        Tim

      6. James Allen says:

        Thanks did you receive the belated prize yet?

      7. KRB says:

        Totally off topic, but have you outed yourself as a Bob Seger fan with your Singapore GP website banner graphic (“Night Moves”)? Dating yourself JA!

      8. James Allen says:

        Sorry, before my time!

        However now you mention it, I vaguely recall a band called Shakatak or similar having a song called ‘Night Moves’

      9. tom says:

        hi James i just don’t know why people complain g your column is all about Hamilton , as far as im concern its hot topic in the paddock, please keep it up we want to hear more about it as u know Hamilton decision will affect a lot drivers , but anyway , PLEASE i just want to ask you ABOUT HAMILTON YOU SAID MCLAREN OFFER HIM LESS THAN WHAT IS GETTING NOW , DOES MEAN HE WILL GET PAID LESS THAN JENSON BUTTON . AND IS BUTTON IN THE SAME SALARY AS HAMILTON now?? THANKS

      10. James Allen says:

        I think HAM is on circa €15m now, BUTT circa €9m, new HAM offer is said to be circa €10m.

        Always very hard to know, but those figures are ones being used in paddock

    2. Frans says:

      I haven’t heard the podcast. I rather read an article than hear a podcast because I can get to the point much faster.

    3. Andrew says:

      “because I think Button is probably more clever on the car than Hamilton is”

      I’m not sure how Ramirez has come to this this conclusion, didnt Button and his engineers have to turn to Hamilton’s setup after his abysmal run that included being lapped by his teammate in Montreal?

      Everybody knows that Button is next to useless unless his car is perfectly setup, but this does not mean that he is better at setting up his car.

      1. Mike says:

        ‘Everybody knows that Button is next to useless unless his car is perfectly setup’.

        And your racing experience / results at world championship level in any form of motorsport that makes you feel qualified to make that sweeping statement are …………. ?

      2. Cliff says:

        Button used Hamilton’s baseline set-up. As this is a Team sport, I can’t see the problem. Joe Ramirez, is not saying Button is better at setting up the car, he is identifying the subtle differences between the two drivers. One can drive around a problem, while the other struggles to deal with a less than perfect car.

      3. Adrien says:

        Drivers, and teams, have periodically lost their way on setup since the dawn or racing. On example that has always stuck with me was the 1995 Indy 500 when Penske, Unser and some guy named Fittipaldi couldn’t even qualify — all because of setup.

        That hardly means a driver is worthless. This is a sport with a razors edge difference between hunting for wins and lost. And that is part of the draw — year after year teams design cars that perform within a few tenths of each other and those who get it right win.

        Let’s also remember that this is a business and pleasing sponsors is part of the driver’s duties. I expect Jenson’s charm and sense of humor make him a hit at sponsor events.

      4. AuraF1 says:

        Well when Hamilton gets to choose which wing he wants he picks the wrong one. So basically when the engineers involve Hamilton he’s essentially useless.

        If it was imposed on Hamilton he can complain but the pathetic button bashing from lewis’ immature fanboys can’t get past Lewis never makes a pit call by himself (like most drivers) and when he chooses a set up and it’s wrong he goes and tweets his team set up in a tantrum. Button went the wrong way on set up as the car was developed away from rear stability but at least he admitted he was struggling – I don’t remember button claiming Lewis cheated him out of the perfect set up.

    4. AlexD says:

      I fully agree….I am simply tired of Hamilton….
      What does he eat? What does he drink? Let him go to Mercedes…but please let him do it very soon.I want to have it all behind me….tired of reading too many articles about Hamilton.
      As if there is nothing else in F1 that we can talk about.

      1. Brace says:

        I hear you, man. It’s getting really old.

      2. monktonnik says:

        I don’t imagine that Hamilton moving to Mercedes will stop him tweeting, or people writing articles about him.

        I don’t generally download the podcasts as I only have 3g internet access and I have to pay for every MB. I like reading the articles.

      3. hal says:

        Yet here you are reading and posting on a Hamilton related article…I just don’t get people who do this. I can understand if you sat down to watch F1 and every commentator/pundit kept on going on about Hamilton but YOU have to actually make the effort to read the article.

      4. AlexD says:

        I did make an effort a week ago…the thread had around 1000 replies. It was interesting…but now it is too much.

        I would prefer to read and engage in something like this:

        – 7 races to go, which team is going to be strong in which track?

        – Who is where in terms of engines and development for this year?

        I think one big article about Hamilton per week is more than enough. We do not read about Vettel, Alonso and Schumacher….and this is good, we read about them as part of the normal racing articles.

      5. Wheels says:

        Right on, Hal!

        Just great! We have, here, so-called F1 fans who are bored with the fastest, most talented and exciting driver on the grid! Unbelievable…!

      6. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of entertainment. That used to be provided by Max Mosley, and although I didn’t like it much then, I quite like the controversies and speculations, as it keeps the sport in the spotlight when there’s no much going on.

        So back to the main topic of the first comment, the podcast was really good and I don’t mind revisiting interesting stories.

      7. JohnBt says:

        Simon Fullers loves it. More publicity?

      8. bomond says:

        I’ve been McLaren fan for ~20 years, and I’m much less so now because of Hamilton. If he thinks he is too big for the team I want to see him out of it.

        Wonderful article btw, it’s rare that a British media dares to be objective when it comes to British drivers.

      9. Wayne says:

        Whoever they replace him with will be slower – why would you want that for your team? Would you also want your top goal scorer out of your favourite football team because you didn’t like his personality? Just does not make sense.

      10. Wayne says:

        This makes no sense at all. It’s more a reflection of the fact that you are not a ‘fan’ than anything else, clearly. Hamilton is the most exciting driver in F1, one of the fastest and one of the most controversial – and you are bored of him? You only have to look at how many comments a post with his name attached to it gets to know just how silly this is.

    5. Racyboy says:

      Haven’t had a chance to listen to podcast yet….enjoyed the article…will listen later.

      Why does anyone give a rats?…
      If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    6. Wayne says:

      This isn’t really about Hamilton, it’s an opportunity to tell us all about the opinion of a guy who we would have no access to what so ever where it not for this website.

      Besides, I nagged a couple of times for James’ most recent piece on Hamilton and Mercedes! A F1 website that does not report on F1′s top drivers, offer insights and react to major headlines would just be being obstinate! You really should have a look at PF1, if you want to see how gratuitous headlines can be butchered to attract hits and deliberately provoke! It’s utterly awful.

      One last thing, look at the amount of comments the most recent stories about Hamilton have provoked. A journalist does need to report on issue that interest his/her target audience.

    7. Mark says:

      Well, I’m grateful to James for posting this. Although I’d like to I don’t get the time to listen to the podcast so this article is new to me.

      1. James Allen says:

        Make the time – it’s great!

    8. F1Fan says:

      What I find telling in Ramirez’s comments, though he is not the only one who thinks that way, is that when he speaks of Button besting Hamilton, he speaks of 2011, when clearly Hamilton was distracted. This year, with Hamilton refocused, Button is not surpassing Hamilton.

      If in fact Button qualifying faster than Hamilton was the cause of Hamilton tweeting the telemetry, why hasn’t Hamilton done that before. Surely, this isn’t the first time Button has outqualified Hamilton.

      As far the comparisons to Senna and Prost, there is some validity there. Like Senna, Hamilton can adapt to the car. Like Prost, Button needs a perfectly balanced car to do well. But as Ramirez asked, how often can you get the car 100% perfect?

    9. Dufus says:

      Yep, enough of Hamilton already.
      He needs to grow up.

    10. moxlox says:

      What?! This is an excellent article, with lots of interesting insight from Ramirez.

      It was very poignant too, given the respective Hamilton/Senna and Button/Prost fan association and driving style analogies.

      Keep publishing original articles like this please James.

  2. Pete_from Nepal says:

    Awesome Story James! Thanks so much, very insightful! I wonder if the tweets had anything to do with negotiations — as in if at that point Mercedes (let’s say for example) believed that Button beat him, Hamilton’s stocks would drop, and he knew that. So he had to show the world why he’s still worth that much! Good fast driver is Hamilton, but just a bit too young!

    1. aezy_doc says:

      I certainly think it was political but not necessarily to do with contracts. I think it was Lewis exposing how he believes the McLaren team is favouring Button. I am not part of the conspiracy brigade, but I do wonder whether all of the speculation on this topic has some truth to it and Lewis has enough reason to wonder the same! Maybe it worked given what happened at Monza!

      1. Pranav says:

        Maybe he finally understands what Alonso might’ve gone through in 2007.

      2. aezy_doc says:

        Agreed. I don’t even think that there is necessarily any malice involved from Whitmarsh. It just so happens he has a soft spot for Jenson (and previoulsy Dennis for Hamilton). The team will naturally gravitate towards one driver over the other – it’s human nature.

  3. Mike from Colombia says:

    I would guess that Lewis tweeted because around the same time he realised that Jenson Button has more than one face. He probably realised that all that chuminess and all those pats on the back were somewhat disingenuous. Button and his management trying to squeeze in Paul Di Resta and thereby making Button the team number 1.

    Hamilton seems that he can a little naive, but certainly not nasty. Who knows what the atmosphere was around that time? Maybe it was a combination of Hamilton realising what was going on around him in terms of Button’s management, a wrong decision taken by the team (including him) regarding the rear wing, Button ends up 0.8 seconds quicker and the team then gathering around Jenson.

    Remember that Hamilton was in the middle of negotiations and during a period where public perception matters a lot. Whitmarsh made no real effort to explain why F1′s best qualifier is 0.8s down versus Button (not celebrated for his qualifying performance)and in a moment of madness he tries to explain to the world what happened. I am not saying that what Hamilton did is right..merely trying to understand why. It seems it was an outburst symptom from feeling isolated within the team.

    Hamilton has been savaged by the media for not coming across as a team player (in all honesty the data seems harmless). Meanwhile, the Button friendly journos do not even flutter over Jenson’s forthright comments that he will not play the team game in supporting Hamilton for the championship.

    In summary, Hamilton’s behaviour are a result of (a) a slower but politically sly team mate, (b) poor man management in terms of Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis (c) lack of maturity and (d) living in the straight jacket environment of McLaren and (e) a very hostile media baying for his blood while at the same time openly lavishing praise on his team mate at every opportunity.

    However, at least Hamilton’s actions show passion and ambition to be the very best. All greats have this streak.

    1. hal says:

      I enjoyed reading an open minded well written post.

      1. Nick says:

        The simple answer to why he tweeted what he did is because he is not very clever and VERY immature.

        I’m not trying to put him down, it’s just a fact. I have seen Hamilton interviewed a lot, and one thing is VERY evident – he is not the sharpest tool in the shed – simple. It’s not his fault, it’s just a fact. Some people are clever, some aren’t. I strongly believe Hamilton is of the latter category. It’s a bit like ‘I’m not too bright but I can drive pretty fast’.

        And usually this brings along another issue – immaturity.

        It’s as plain as the nose on his face that he is extremely immature and that’s the reason he tweeted what he did.

        Anyone with any ounce of common sense or maturity would know that 9 time out of 10 he out-qualifies Button, and whenever he doesn’t, they are always usually pretty close anyway.

        Him being nearly a second down is BLEEDING OBVIOUS to anyone with a brain that there were issues outside of his talent behind the wheel that caused the huge time difference.

        However, as I have said, Hamilton ain’t that clever or mature and felt he needed to vindicate himself – like some sort of a 12 year old.

        It’s pretty simple people. He’s 28 years old in January – THIS IS NOT YOUNG! He’s not immature because he’s young – he’s immature because he’s not very clever.

      2. hal says:

        A VERY clever post with some very subtle use of upper case letters.
        You are talking utter rubbish of course.

      3. Mike from Colombia says:

        Nice simple reasoning for a very complex issue. So according to you, to be among the world’s very best racing drivers you don’t need much intelligence. You don’t have to know how to get the best out of your car? Racecraft? Car setup? Development testing?

        I must have missed a trick. Better put me down in the same category as Hamilton.

    2. ReviLO says:

      I must admit that I agree with a lot of what you have stated. Lewis has (in qualifying) generally been faster than Jenson this season, and indeed much of the time whilst they have been team mates, and on ocassion by what has to stated is quite a margin. For him to suddenly be .8 seconds slower than Jenson, I suspect he probably thought needed some explantion. I dont belive there was any malice in him when he tweted the data, a bit silly maybe, but the fact is the informatiion was avialbale via others sources if the other teams really wanted to get it, so why on earth this tweeting episosde is still being referered to is beyond me. I remember Martin Brundle satting something along the lines of you’d look a bit silly if you had a number one driver who was constantly being out qualified by his team mate. Maybe that has something to do with the situation Lewis find himself in at McLaren.

      1. Cliff says:

        “but the fact is the information was avialbale via others sources if the other teams really wanted to get it”

        The data tweeted by Lewis Hamilton is protected data. Try passing on data from your place of work, admit it and wait for the response from your employers.

    3. Lindsay says:

      That’s a lot of paranoia mate.

    4. The Gunner says:

      Excellent post, Mike.

      I too can’t help but feel that beneath the smiling, boy-next-door face that Button presents, lies an egotistical and ruthless personality. It’s clear that Jenson has manouevred himself very well into McLaren’s inner circle and appears to have Whitmarsh and others dancing to his tune.

      The likes of Mansell and Senna suffered the same kind of political difficulties with Prost and it would appear that Lewis also struggles with this part of the game.

      Being quickest is only part of the equation. I sense that Lewis thrives when a) He has clear number one status (ie 2008) or b) When peoples expectations are low (ie 2007).

      To that end, a move to Mercedes could do wonders for him.

      1. Liam says:

        I don’t agree with your statement about Button being egotistical and ruthless.. I think a lot of people believe he’s favoured by the team from a competetive point of view but there’s no way that’s right. I think it’s clear that competetively they’re treated equally.

        I do think that the McLaren team prefer Button on a personal level and I think that’s just because he’s a nicer and more balanced individual. That will no doubt be rattling Hamilton’s cage but he needs to grow up and get over it.

        I like to see Hamilton drive, he’s nothing short of awesome behind the wheel but away from the car he’s a bit of a muppet and I’m sure that grates on his team… It certainly would grate on me if I had to work with him.

      2. Wayne says:

        I reckon he will be both egotistical and ruthless. But only in as much as all of these guys are. Top sports people need, to a certain extent, to have both of these qualities to succeed. Look at Schumi, F1′s most successful driver and probably F1′s most ruthless and egotistical personality. ‘Ruthless’ and ‘egotistical’ are fairly neutral words, we for some reason decide they are negatives.

    5. Sinnr says:

      Well said.

    6. ajay says:

      Interesting that someone like Ramirez has come out and said what many of us were thinking. Is he really that insecure even now he is acknolwedged as one of the all time best drivers. I hope he does move on- it will be intresting to see him in a brand new enviroment so we can remove the Mclaren, Whitmarsh, Button are all against him element.

    7. Rich C says:

      (a) rubbish
      (b) nonsense
      (c) don’t think so
      (d) eh?
      (e) BS

      (f) passion and ambition to be the very best – yes.

    8. Seán Craddock says:

      F1′s best qualifier? In terms of what?

    9. Craig D says:

      Reading a bit too much into things methinks now. So Hamilton’s potential move to Mercedes is now in part down to Button’s management and his mind games? Pff. You can’t fault someone if they’ve fit on well with the time. The whole wing thing is just a closed engineering decision scenario. End of story.

    10. Sudha S says:

      +1 Agree with you. My perception of Jenson Button is changing. I think he is playing a sly game with Whitmarsh playing along. Get Hamilton out and bring in Di Resta. Hamilton might be spoilt and a little immature, but he is one of the most exciting drivers on the grid.
      Good Luck McLaren with Button and the slumber inducing Paul Di Resta

    11. carl craven says:

      Mike of Columbia,this is Carl of Uruguay. It’s pretty obvious that you really don’t like Jenson Button very much. Everyone is really entitled to their opinion. But at the end of the day Button is also allowed to be the person he is and your obvious offense at Button being a human being by possibly having more than face for example really brings very little to the table nor does anything for the strength of your argument. My suggestion would be, focus on facts, because unless you are an employee of Mclaren or work in F1 I doubt very much you have any more incite to the relationship between Mclaren Hamilton and Button other than what we all see through the press.

      If you are going to make statements as if fact please back them up with evidence and references.

      You are entitled to your opinions, but they are verging on hateful and in-balanced and it really is not a pleasure knowing that I enjoy a sport that solicits such aggressive posturing.

      Lewis is not a great yet and only time will answer that question but it does look like he has peaked. It’s often difficult to achieve more when you go straight into a top team and enjoy the success that comes with that gift. Lewis has struggled to move out of Mclaren, because generally people move up and on to success and not down. He said himself RBR was only a drinks company going racing and Ferrari’s current success is Alonsos doing.

      If Lewis wants to prove himself great, because after all it’s not gifted like a position in an already good team then he will have to prove to the world that he has it in him like MS did and Alonso is doing. Lewis’s life and career have absolutely nothing to do with Button.

      I really hope that Lewis goes to Mercedes and has to prove himself, because for sure Button going to Mclaren proved himself against the best and Lewis going to Mercedes will prove he has the balls to take a risk and also show if he has the skill to help develop a car and a team to greatness along with himself.

      1. Mike from Colombia says:

        Firstly, I would like to state that the VAST majority of readers on this site have no inside knowledge on F1 and form their opinions based on press articles, press releases, interviews etc. Readers’ opinions are based on their own interpretations and passions.

        I have often praised Button for his consistency. He had a stand out performance in 2011 due to a combination of his consistency Hamilton’s inconsistency and problems off track. 2011 has without a doubt change the dynamics within the team.

        Lewis Hamilton is not a newcomer to F1 and posting telemetry was not a novice’s mistake. It was born out of frustration and rightly or wrongly his perceived sense of injustice.

        There are several other factors as to why some people to do not like Hamilton, but I am conscious that to discuss them publicly would create a horrible atmosphere of denial and hostility.

        The object of my post was to try to come to some form of rationale as to why Hamilton tweeted over the Spa weekend…this has EVERYTHING to with Button and the intra-team dynamics between the two. It was also to try to understand positioning within the team, particularly with regards to the possible signing of Paul Di Resta, whose management company is part owned by Button.

      2. hal says:

        It’s funny how you accuse him for basically saying he can play team politics better than Hamilton. Almost everyone plays politics at work do hardly an insult to Button.

        Based on your (over) reaction I would say you are obviously a bit of a button fan (nothing wrong with that as I quite like him – was in Hungary where he won his first GP).

        I would expect to see this kind of robust defence from you on some of the really hateful comments Hamilton receives then.

      3. Dave Deacon says:

        +1

      4. Craig D says:

        I agree, it’s getting annoying how some Hamilton fans are really sounding insecure and paranoid, looking for anything to back up Lewis as if he’s some golden boy. For the record, I like Lewis, he’s certainly one of the most naturally talented drivers ever to grace the sport, and is exciting. But he’s still got a lot of facets to add to his skill-set before he can be seen as a legend of the sport. (Of course he’s still got plenty of his career remaining.)

        When news broke of Hamilton leaving McLaren, the initial reaction was shock and how foolish a thing it would be. As the tide has swung more to a likely outcome of him actually moving to Mercedes, more and more fans seem to be turning over every stone to excuse Lewis for his current situation: how McLaren have mistreated him, management issues, the media, and now Button being sly and two-faced and having this plan to oust him! Only the media point can I agree with.

        I’m pretty sure Jenson or any other driver for that matter, cares less about Lewis’s situation. Sure they’re not best pals, never have been, but they’ve worked perfectly well together, perhaps to the chagrin of the media who initially was fully expecting there to be a Red Bull style ruckus.

        McLaren have supported Lewis very well and given their best to let him achieve his success, including a World Championship. They might have restricted ways about doing things – sponsors and the like – but that’s been the way for all their drivers, Lewis isn’t any different.

        People are looking into their own conspiracy theories over the Spa wing incident and the the tweets. No one knows the exactly what goes on behind closed doors but it’s far more logical, and is what was told, that it’s was all simply an engineering decision, which should provided equal performance. And it was Lewis’s choice to run the setup he did, not some conspiracy of the team wanting to do him in, and rather than this whole them rallying behind Jenson nonsense, or Jenson smiling to Lewis’s face but behind the scenes inviting Whitmarsh to play xbox with him!

        The histrionics is insane. At the end of the day, Lewis is accountable for himself. If he’s unhappy, so be it move. If it’s because McLaren can’t afford to pay him what he wants, than that’s the way of it.

        It’ll probably be good for Lewis to see if he can bring a team up the grid. But remember Rosberg is no slouch either.

      5. Nigel says:

        “People are looking into their own conspiracy theories over the Spa wing incident…The histrionics is insane.”

        I agree entirely. The Spa kerfuffle was simply about the two drivers being forced by the ruined practice sessions to gamble on setup. Button gambled right; Hamilton didn’t.

        The opinions expressed about the contract negotiations seem also to be determined by posters’ like or dislike of Hamilton rather than any objective reality – which of necessity is unknowable to outsiders at the moment.

      6. tharris19 says:

        Talk about opinions and hating; check yourself Craig.
        Personally, I would like for Hamilton to go to Mercedes to raise the level of competition in formula 1 for everyone. If the cars are as close next year as they are this year we will be in for a treat.

      7. Craig D says:

        Hating? Who and where? Everyone is free to have opinions but so many just aren’t based on any facts and evidence, and that’s what I don’t like. And such instances tend to occur the most when concerning Lewis.

        And of course all sports people are ambitious, driven and have to be ruthless but that’s all in a positive way and needn’t be malicious. The talk of people being out to get Lewis just is silly.

      8. James Allen says:

        I don’t like the use of the word “hate” anywhere on this site.

        Please note

      9. DonSimón says:

        Sorry, love JB but he has proven nothing at Mclaren. Also his championship at Brawn was a ringer.

        Mika
        Alonso
        Kimi
        Lewis
        Jenson

        In terms of recent Mclaren drivers he is not amongst the best by a long way. Like I said, he seems like a nice guy, but he is on the second step in terms of raw ability.

    12. JCA says:

      I have seen no reliable report that links Jenson or his managment to Lewis’s contract negotiations

    13. Dan says:

      That is such a good read and highlights how naive McLaren are being if they allow Hamilton to leave.

    14. Wu says:

      Wow, Hammy has a lot of enemies hasn’t he? His teammate, his team, the media, di Resta…

      I think I’d agree with C if what he really did was a misjudgment. He has not reached his promised potential and tends to take it out on his team. Sure his team messed his and Button’s races surprisingly often, but Hamilton’s been making a lot more mistakes than Button on the track, not to mention the ones of it.

      To be honest, I think Mclaren are fed up with him. The see the potential, but when they try to mould him into the driver he can be he pushes them away more, or embarrases them. The paycut shows that more than anything. Sure, there’s a downfall in their budget because of engines, but they could have found a way to keep the same wage. The pay cut is there to show him and the paddock that his stock has fallen since their last negotiations. If Hamilton had enough wisdom and humility he’d accept Mclaren’s proposal and let them school him. His ego won’t let him though and instead of increasing his chances of winning multiple WDCs he’s going to a mid-field team with less than satisfactory track record for winning.

    15. Andrew Carter says:

      The problem with this crackpot theory is that Di rest awas on McLaren’s radar when Anthony Hamilton was his manager. And forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Button’s management sign up Di Resta after Spa, and not before.

    16. GP says:

      Mike my friend, you are deep into lala land.

    17. surya kumar says:

      +1. Agree to all your points as it is very easy to trash somebody without having an inside view of what is happening.

  4. Monji says:

    Many of my points are covered in your comments, really good commenting…

    With McLaren not throwing all their energy around they best chance of winning the championship (being the driver leading the team points) I too wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to leave that team…

  5. Thomas Conway says:

    The car was perfect for Jenson in Italy.

    1. hal says:

      That’s the great thing about Jenson media ‘myth’. When he doesnt win the car was not perfect. When he wins the car was setup to his liking and therefore untouchable. So as he didn’t win in Italy I can only assume Jenson was not 100% happy with the car otherwise how could he be beaten by Lewis or anyone else for that matter.

      1. AdrianP says:

        Well, it’s probably fair enough not to be 100% happy with a car whose engine stops in the middle of the race and that might have something to do with his result in Italy…!?

      2. hal says:

        Of course but before that he was behind Hamilton who he ‘blew’ away in Spa because the car was to his liking and nothing to do with the fact Hamilton had the old wings. So as he didn`t out qualify Hamilton or even lead the race in Italy I have to assume (by his followers reasoning) it was because he was not happy with the car and not because he is generally not as quick as Hamilton.

      3. Blackacre says:

        Well the car wasn’t perfect – it broke down!!!

      4. Thomas Conway says:

        Set up wise it was. Didn’t have the pace of Hamilton all weekend.

  6. Moreharm says:

    James, in reference to @cliff’s comment in #1, I listened to the entire podcast as well and this text version of the interview certainly gave a deeper insight; especially the comparisons with Senna and Prost.

    Keep up the excellent work and long may this continue.

  7. unF1nnished business says:

    The 2nd part of this article was interesting.

  8. Kostas Galanis says:

    Good old F1. Prost saving tires for the race!

    1. Spyros says:

      No he wasn’t, special qualifying tyres weren’t used in the races then. He simply was THAT confident that Senna couldn’t beat him, full stop.

  9. tom adams says:

    How sure are you about this Hamilton to Mercedes story James?
    If he does go to Mercedes who is going to make room for him? Schumi to retire again or Rosberg moving on?
    Cheers

  10. David says:

    I always wonder if Lewis Hamilton leaves F1, what all of you will be writing about? Time to give it a rest now. It’s getting a bit boring now.

  11. Sinnr says:

    I noticed from reading this, that Martin Whitmarsh was not mentioned. And, that’s why I think that this story falls flat on it’s face. Whitmarsh has more to do with what goes on in that team.
    The incident in Australia a couple of years ago, when Hamilton was told to lie and got castigated for it on every forum and in the media, tells me that Lewis seem to put his trust in the team and willingly goes along with what they ask. I think that’s why he posted that telemetry.

  12. F1fan4life says:

    Oh the Hamilton lovers will be up in arms about this. James, I’m not in the U.K., but I almost threw up when I saw that Sebastian Vettel was ranked #9 (I think) on F1′s greatest drivers… above Alonso and even more incredulously above Nikki Lauda. Were you a part of this group… and how does your list compare? Everyone has a right to there own opinion but I find it laughable that a guy not even in the middle of his F1 career who won titles in often the fastest car can get ranked above Lauda, who went through so much in F1. I don’t regard the list as… worth anything now.

    1. Angelina says:

      Vettel has achieved that success in his short career so far. Seb would be much above #8- yeah Seb is 8th not 9th- before he quits F1.

    2. Heinzman says:

      Agree 100%.

      When Vettel’s name wasn’t called before the top 10 it was never going to work.

  13. Val from montreal says:

    Button has always been a very very good driver …I remember as if it was yesterday when he raced his first race with Williams back in 2000 ? It was Button-mania , the british press fell in love with him right away and with good reason …Who can forget in 2004 when jensons Honda-BAR was giving Schumacher and hus F2004 a run for its money in some gps throughout that year …Like MSC said last year after the Monza race :” Button is an exceptional talent ” ….. Button has always been vastly under rated as a driver , and if he was teamed up with Alonso at Ferrari , who would bet against him ?? When Lewis loses out to Schumacher next year at Mercedes , people will realise alot of things ..

    1. B.Diddy says:

      Lewis lose to Schumacher ?? You’re having a laugh take off the beer goggles you might see things more clearly

    2. KRB says:

      So by your reckoning, Nico Rosberg is the greatest driver of them all?! That is the end product of all that you’ve said.

      I might not like all of the stuff that Alonso has done thru the years, but I think when it comes to speaking candidly about the differing levels of drivers, he’s spot on. Basically only LH and himself are the only drivers that can win when the car is not the best.

      Any team’s development arm is aided greatly by knowing how fast the car can be driven, to know the limits. If it was Button and Di Resta at McLaren, there would always be the sense that they were never hitting the limits of the car. That, to me, would seem to be sort of a big thing.

      1. Quattro_T says:

        “I might not like all of the stuff that Alonso has done thru the years,”

        Sounds like you have been really close to ALO…Care to share?

  14. CoB says:

    Hi James, did you ever do that interview with John Surtees?

  15. AlexD says:

    Too much talk about this Hamilton. Let him go to Mercedes already….
    enough is enough

    1. KRB says:

      … and yet, you’re adding to it.

    2. efi says:

      dont read and stop moaning

    3. Quattro_T says:

      I think you are taking it way more seriously that needed. I agree HAM is being given way more space in media that what you would believe is motivated given “racing value”, but if you start considering it as pure entertainment, i e something to maybe even laugh about I think you will be able to even enjoyed it.

  16. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Agreed, all of us have to learn, we don’t stop learning. IMO Hamilton learnt this year to nurse the tyres, to be patient with too much pit-stops mistakes from the team, to get same amount of points without winning from Raikkonen, to not challenge to the limit Maldonado, the benefits of doing many poles again, to negotiate hard, etc. and he and the other drivers will learn a lot aswell, so what, it’s OK.

    Experience comes with time, and Alonso is up there on top of the championship just for experience, not thanks to the car really.

  17. Jag says:

    This article talks more at the face level of events that transpired than what the team dynamics was at this time. Who is not to say, team played more into Button’s favoritism on this day as everything was falling into Button’s liking (which usually happens occasionally). Given Button has had miserable first half of the season, the team and Button saw an opportunity to give Button a boost and compromise on Hamilton. I am great fan and follower of McLaren and Hamilton, as I see it there is something that has been happening from the very beginning of this year within the team, it has reached a level, for all this to showcase.

  18. Kris says:

    Hamilton and a McLaren team that is operating effectively and without mistake is close to unbeatable.

    I’d love to see Hamilton and McLaren get things sorted and focus on winning a championship. If that doesn’t happen, though, does anybody really feel McLaren will be better off with Button as their undisputed number one and a guy like Perez or Di Resta?

    All the media speculation and analysis regarding a potential Hamilton switch to Mercedes focuses on whether Hamilton will be best served by such a move. Seems everybody agrees that Mercedes would benefit. There’s a question mark over whether Hamilton will benefit. I’m yet to see anybody argue that McLaren will benefit.

    James, what do you think the ramifications of a potential Hamilton departure will be for McLaren’s ability to attract and retain the top talent? Letting Raikonen, Alonso and then Hamilton slip through their fingers all within the space of about 7-8 years? Will they be able to attache the top talent again in the future?

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Not to mention Adrian Newey…

    2. Alanis Morrissette says:

      Spot on. McLaren really do have to look at their driver management regardless of whether or not Lewis leave. The top talent have enormous ego’s – it is the nature of competitive animals (to use a Ron Dennis-ism). They need to be stroked. From time to time we get these wonderful match up’s in the same team in the sport – Prost/Senna, Alonso/Hamilton, Rossi/Lorenzo being three beauties – the latter only cut short through injury. And they almost always implode.

      However, whilst together, the results for the team are usually absolutely spectacular – and make no mistake, 07 was a great year for McLaren in terms of results spygate or not – it’s just Ferrari had a relaxed Kimi with the whole team behind him at that point who managed to beautifully urinate on their chips at the end.

      McLaren have this season is they don’t have two incredible drivers – they have one (Hamilton), and one very, very good driver – who’s also an exceptional politician. In all the years of watching the sport, I’ve never seen this combination work at the highest level. Lewis on talent is the number one driver, but I think see’s a team splitting their resources on someone who isn’t his equal, and not concentrating their efforts on their best driver. That’s very frustrating. It’s like a colleague at work who you know isn’t as good as you getting paid the same. It antagonises you – and not in a way that brings out the best. When it was him against Alonso, both drove each other to the absolute height of their ability.

      With Button signed up on a multi year contract, Lewis should leave in my opinion, and get himself into a team which does treat him as the number one driver and build from there. That, or (I can dream) go to Ferrari vs Alonso and give us all a real treat. Red Bull vs Vettel would have been great, but Red Bull know that you’ll only get a couple of seasons out of a combo like this, and it’ll be really hard work.

      That said, I think Jenson + Di Resta will work well for McLaren – it may even yield a championship if the car next year is the class of the field. Not to denigrate Di Resta, but he hasn’t yet shown brilliance in the Perez mould and would suit the subserviant role tremendously.

      1. Warren Groenewald says:

        “That, or (I can dream) go to Ferrari vs Alonso and give us all a real treat.”

        Not to pour cold water over your dream, but Hamilton has yet to beat Alonso in the WDC rankings since Alonso joined Ferrari, even though the McLaren has generally been a better car, 2nd only to Red Bull in terms of wins over the last 3.5 years.

        Alonso has earned the full support of Ferrari and would be a very, very difficult opponent in the same car.

      2. Andrew says:

        If McLaren treated Button like Ferrari treat Massa over that period then your point may be valid.

  19. gudien says:

    Jenson Button is no Alain Prost. The ‘Professor’ was one of F-1′s greats.

    1. KRB says:

      +1000 … Prost could easily have been a 5x or 6x champion, and won even when in slower cars. One of only 9 drivers to have won the DWC when another team won the Constructors’.

      1. Anop says:

        Talk about retiring on a high – He is the only driver to retire when he was the current world champion.

      2. Tim says:

        Sir JYS – 1973

        Tim

      3. KRB says:

        Could also say Mansell as well … at least, full season wise. Won in ’92, then won IndyCar in ’93. Came back for Williams after Senna was killed in ’94, and then did two races for McLaren early in the ’95 season before hanging up the gloves.

        If Bernie’s medal system was in place during Mansell’s time, he’d be a 3-time champion.

    2. Glennb says:

      and Lewis Hamilton is no Ayrton Senna…

  20. Pete C says:

    Button’s ability to drive brilliantly when the car is perfectly set up for him a few times a year is widely reported. There is a flip side to this in that a few races a year he never gets to grips with the car and goes out in Q2. It’s these races that have prevented him from mounting a title challenge in his time at McLaren and will be brought into sharp focus next year if Hamilton goes to Mercedes.

  21. sumedh says:

    While most of what you have written is true about Hamilton being victimized by everyone around him, I do believe that Hamilton is NOT a team player.

    He is very quick to come on the radio to say “What happened at the start guys? I went nowhere”. Or to say to the press, “I took the team’s advice”. With Hamilton, the “I” and “the team” are ALWAYS different.

    Button, Vettel, Alonso have a mentality of “we win together, we lose together”. Hamilton did seem to have that at the start of the season when he did not utter a word against the team while the pit-stops were getting messed up. But his patience with the team seems to have gone now.

    I feel it is good if they part ways. Both deserve better. Mclaren deserve a driver who is more of a team player and Lewis deserves a team who is willing to give it no.1 status.

    1. KRB says:

      Hmm, seem to remember Button questioning the team’s timing and number of his pitstops in Hungary.

    2. efi says:

      button a team player?you mean the one that keeps mentioning again and again that he will NOT help hamilton to win wdc!

      1. carl craven says:

        I don’t think he was implying Button was a team player either, only that he was on the recieving end of poor decisions that time round. It was obvious to many that Button was holding his own and on for a podium place when the team changed his strategy and that lost him 2 or 3 places.

        I wonder what the conspiracy theorists have to say about that?

    3. Concalvez Suri says:

      Hamilton no team player ?, who was the one that shared his set up with ”no grip” Button ?

      1. carl craven says:

        Setups are decided and produced by the team not the driver, it’s not Hamilton’s to share and while each driver may have specif needs, basically their feedback is along the lines of, “Not enough grip at turn 7, Oversteer at Turn 9″ etc, the team will have decided that there was something positive on either drivers setup that the other driver may benefit from. But considering each driver is usually very different in their needs literally carrying across a setup should not work.

        I don’t get all this team player stuff. Is Alonso a team player? Of course he is, he wants to deliver for team Ferrari, and Massa? Probably the only way he retains his drive is to contractually give up position for Alonso, team orders being very allowed.

        Lewis or Hamilton’s best way of giving to the team and being a team player is going out each race and racing their best. Button drives for Mclaren not Hamilton. Mclaren apparently are famous for favouring Team over driver because that is where there money is.

        If anyone is showing signs of NOT being a team player right now it is Lewis asking for more money than perhaps the team can afford, not wanting to do any more team PR that would benefit the team and not signing a new contract and possibly moving to another team.

        I don’t see how Lewis is a better team player than Button in the face of that.

  22. Rich in Norway says:

    Hi James, off topic here. Do you follow the GP3 closely? What do you think the chances of Alex Brundle making it into F1 are?

    Cheers!

    1. James Allen says:

      I did watch the races this year yes, I’ve known Alex since he was about 7 years old

      He had some good drives, Hungary in particular. It’s very hard to make F1 these days, money is so important.

      Next step will be decisive

      1. Rich in Norway says:

        Great! Thanks for the reply:)

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        I can see him following his dad and becoming a star in sportscars more myself.

      3. Seán Craddock says:

        he wasn’t very consistent in GP3 this season to make a big move forwards yet. I agree his race 2 in Hungary was very impressive coming through the field. He should stay in GP3 for the moment for development.

        I thought he had a decent run in LeMans and the pace he had was very good in what was a very competitive category. He could have a future in sports car racing if he wants to I’d say.

      4. Simon Lord says:

        I think it’s a shame to see the creation of F1 ‘dynasties’ – the son rarely outshines the father (Ascari being a rare exception, and even Jacques Villeneuve was never regarded as highly as Gilles despite winning a championship)and the PR value keeps other, perhaps more deserving drivers, out of F1 seats.

        In my opinion, F1 should not be the US-style family business type of motorsport, and the weakness of that approach has perhaps been demonstrated in the fact the Indycars has its first US winner since 2006.

        However, I have to confess to being a bit biased in that I have watched Mitch Evans race here in New Zealand many times and if there’s only room and money for one graduate from GP3 this year, I’d like to see him make it.

      5. James Clayton says:

        If Alex Brundle does make it through, will that force Martin into retirement? Surely it’s going to be extremely hard to be unbiased when commentating on a race that features one of your own? Even if he does manage the extremely difficult task of remaining balanced, there’ll be people who take every opportunity to shred him to pieces on every comment he makes that involve his son.

      6. James Allen says:

        Well he managed to comment on DC when he was managing him, so I don’t think he’d struggle

  23. Vinola says:

    Ramirez’s comments make absolutely no sense.

    I cannot recall Button beating Hamilton in a straight up qualifying session- 3 seasons (can you James?), never mind by 0.8seconds. Utterly preposterous.

    1. Quattro_T says:

      “…I cannot recall Button beating Hamilton in a straight up qualifying session- 3 seasons”

      …Yet he did beat his team mate very comfortably over the complete 2011 season…and should be very close if all races 2010-2012 are considered – a rather big sample. Makes more sense now? As article states and actual results clearly indicate, one-lap-speed is only one of several components required for success, pretty basic really.

      1. Elie says:

        How many times has Hamilton finished outside the points. (other than mech failure/ other drivers).Have at look at how many times JB has- this year being the perfect eg. Last year was Lewis worst year in F1 an I believe they had 3 wins a piece.

        I completely disagree with Sunday performance. How many times has Jenson passed Lewis on track on Sundays and how many times has Lewis passed Jenson from worse positions on Sundays. I don’t have the facts but I’m sure if you research them the answers will be blindingly clear for all of you.how many races/ points have the team cost Lewis this year ( even last year I reckon)

        I actually liked Jenson before last year and I whole heartedly agree that Lewis’s tweetgate was ridiculous along with all his FB / twitter personal postings !so much so that I stop following. However, I’ve been closely watching the post match comments and little niggles JB has been making over the last year or so and I would suggest he has been carrying on like a right old Sheila over Lewis- he has openly bagged him to other drivers ( rightly or wrongly) Canada 11springs to mind, & these “upset”comments about tweet gate reek of politics!!. So call me imaginative but I can tell you I’m sure it’s not the mushy sweet relationship Whitmarsh has always eluded to. At the end of the day I’m sure Lewis decision will be based on other factors – new challenge, money, grow a team profile. I have been saying he should go to Mercedes for a long time now. But I’m as certain as an “arm chair expert” can be – having a cat for a team mate like JB is something he won’t miss.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Japan last year comes to mind straight away.

      1. Vinola says:

        Sure; 1 in 40 qualifications?…lets keep looking, there must be others out there.

      2. Vinola says:

        Andrew, precisely my point; if one had to go to last year’s final race (that’s 8-9 races ago) and many more before that, it makes the point does it not?

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        Does it really matter, Button himself admits that he’s a couple of tenths shy of Hamilton in qualy, and I’m willing to bet that it would be the same with every other driver on the grid. But you don’t get points on saturday, and tehy’re a lot closer on sunday, with he wins 9-7 in Lewis favour, podiums 23-21 in Jenson’s and 1-1 in championship finishing positions.

        My point is that though lewis is definitely the faster driver, they’re a lot closer than most armchair experts are willing to give them credit for.

        Oh, and everybody has a poor weekend once in a while at least, Spa was one for Lewis.

      4. Mark Li says:

        Let’s not forget that Ron Dennis openly admitted after Monza that winning races is McLaren’s priority, not scoring points, podiums or even championships. So on that count McLaren should be backing Hamilton.

      5. Mark Li says:

        Wasn’t that when when McLaren released Hamilton late so he didn’t make a final run compared to Button.

  24. kp says:

    I get sick of everyone trying to compare Hamilton with Prost. And now Button with Senna!

    Hamilton has won one WDC title and yet should have won more. Button has won one WDC title and also should have won more.

    Prost and Senna won three or more WDC titles each, but no-one has ever suggested they should have won more! Granted Senna’s death played an important part in limiting his titles, but no more important a part than Prost’s own retirement.

    Both Button and Hamilton have under performed, and under-performed appallingly (given the mechanical and financial resources at their disposal). They ain’t no Senna or Prost and never will be!

  25. Sam says:

    Hi James,

    It might sound silly to some, but is there ANY possibility of seeing Hamilton in a Ferrari next season?

    Hamilton is available, Ferrari have a seat available, it seems such a shame that they would pass Lewis up for fear of upsetting the apple cart with Alonso. Are Ferrari really so in love with Alonso that they would reject arguably the fastest driver out there?

    Also, despite what happened in the past, do they not complement each other perfectly on paper? It’s a constructor’s title waiting to happen, and it would certainly be great for the fans….

  26. Spyros says:

    Thanks for the interview, that was a remarkable insight.

  27. Gantsta says:

    Personally I’m not too fussed what Hamilton does next year. It would be a shame though if either he or McLaren allow these contract negotiations to get in the way of winning this years championships. After all, isn’t that what both parties got in to Grand Prix racing to succeed at and what both parties are currently well placed to achieve?

  28. B.Diddy says:

    I really don’t know what Mclaren are playing at ? How can they offer Lewis a contract that is lower in salary than he is already on ? Any new deal for Lewis will cover him heading into his peak years.
    He is up there with Alonso and Vettel as one of the top three drivers in F1 currently. Did Alonso take a pay cut when he resigned for Ferrari ? No…. Even if Alonso agreed the same salary he has the sweetener of being the undisputed no 1 driver in the team?
    For Lewis to accept a lower salary he would be devaluing his talent.. What are Mclaren offering ??? He would have a team mate that is able to take points off him at will making the chance of another WDC much harder compared to Alonso.
    I can’t think of anybody who would go into contract extension talks and want to be paid less..
    To offer him less without any other incentives shows that the team does not value his talents enough. If they do not want to resign him Whitmarsh should just come out and say otherwise pay the going rate for a driver of his calibre.
    The whole we are in a different economic environment chat that Ron is talking about is rubbish the costs of F1 have decreased since 2008 Mclaren have continued to add more sponsors and they make a pretty penny off all the Hamilton merchandise. Will they make the same off Di Resta merchandise? I think not
    Mclaren haven’t had the best car since 2007/8 the team should just pay up if Lewis is in the same class as Alonso surely he should get a salary within the same ballpark ?? Stop taking liberties make a reasonable offer or sign someone that Mclaren think is good for the team stop faffing about Mr Whitmarsh.

    1. Guillermo says:

      James, is it confirmed that McLaren are offering Lewis a less lucrative contract than the one he is on?

      I assume he would still get paid more than Jenson.

      1. James Allen says:

        Nothing is confirmed in this situation.

        McLaren are in a different position from the one they were in when he signed for 5 years in 2008. They had Mercedes works backing for a start, plus the credit crunch has changed a lot.

        I would say his new offer would still exceed what Button is paid, but the Mercedes deal is roughly another €10 million a year, as I understand it

      2. Concalvez Suri says:

        james that’s a bit weird, let’s be honest. The crisis started back in 2008 so how can Whitmarsh offer Button a better contract (€ 16 million) but 12 months later Hamilton has to cut salary (from € 16 million to less) it does not make sense right

      3. Quattro_T says:

        “I assume he would still get paid more than Jenson.”

        Why?

        Had I been Button I would shudder knowing HAM gets more than me. I would think
        - In most recent season I beat (the heck out of him) by 43 points come season end.
        - we both have one title
        - over three seasons 2010-12 we are very closely matched, even though it was “his team” when I arrived
        - I usually spread harmony INside the team, while he spreads secrets OUTside the team
        - I have been much more professional in dealing with media/protecting my team in difficult times.

        What the heck is the deal?!

      4. Guillermo says:

        Well, I think that when it comes down to it, over the time they’ve raced in the same team, Lewis has won more races and scored more points, so should get the bigger contract.

        It must be a real dilemma for McLaren, because if they give Jenson the best car, Jenson will deliver a championship. You wouldn’t need Lewis then. BUT when the field is as tight as it is now, the driver really does make a difference….

  29. sCarLatti says:

    for what it’s worth, I’d just add to the comments above that while it’s true that Hamilton often reacts emotionally to difficult political situations, the trigger in this case seems to be that Button was favoured by the team in Spa.
    Seems Whitmarsh tricked Lewis (or so Lewis believes) into opting for the wrong set up, and that Button was given much more info to nudge him into going with the low downforce set-up.
    Of course this is based on conjecture, like everyone else’s view, but I don’t honestly think Lewis would have acted as he did, and seriously considered leaving McLaren, without a strong sense of “injustice” to spur him on…
    Whitmarsh probably just wanted to help Button out of the doldrums

  30. carl craven says:

    I think it’s silly making a comparison of Button and Hamilton yet people always do.

    The points the DNFs and the wins are spread almost evenly ever so slightly in Lewis’s favour. It’s true to say Button prefers sunday over saturday and that Hamilton can put together one lap really well, but Sunday has proved that Button is on Lewis’s pace most of the time and better occasionally.

    I think the thing that defines them both is Lewis’s rabid dog chasing the hare over Button’s tortoise that still beats the hare. Both fall foul to their respective approaches. Button rarely crashes into other drivers or spins off yet Lewis has. Last year Lewis did just that and Button went on to win the race and yet Button has been overly conservative on occasions and left it too late to have any effect on a race despite running well.

    This year both drivers have had the occassion to lap their team mate. Both drivers had problems where setup hindered their race, Button notably over several races, Lewis very notably in Belgium.

    I think Lewis is a great racing driver and may go on to be a legend. But I am not a fan. Why not? Because I don’t feel it necessary to align my self with the best all the time. They teach me little if success comes easy to them. I have followed Button for a long time and watched how he has dealt with many problems that Lewis never faced. And while I don’t think Button the best in F1, that position for me (MS aside) goes to Alonso, but Button is easily a force in the top 5 best drivers and contributes competitively. It seems like his detractors would prefer to say he is lucky. With that luck he should just stay at home and do the lottery every week if it were really the case, but in F1 Button has his admirers and people with access to the telemetry that shows where he has speed and how he delivers. He wouldn’t be pressuring Lewis so much and inciting so much contempt from Lewis idolizers if this were not the case.

    I really feel sorry for Lewis fans that are not able to enjoy the sparring between these two racers, I think we are lucky to have this, F1 would be really (more than it can be at times) boring if all teams ran a #1 and #2 driver like they do at Ferrari. It’s sad that they cannot acknowledge the situation for what it is and seem insistent on believing whatever current conspiracy theory is holding Lewis back or how he manages to elude their efforts when he wins. (I am shaking my head in disbelief at the ludicrous comments I have read regarding this issue)

    Button may famously have agreed that having that kind of status would be the most productive for the lead driver was not to suggest that he actually wanted to drive in that situation. It’s clever of Alonso to get so much behind him that he always knows he’s guaranteed at least Massa’s points. It’s a killer selfish attitude, call it a winners attitude, but it’s still ugly and it’s not pure. Both Lewis and Button (maybe even mclaren too) that there is little integrity in that cynical approach. My understanding of that agreement does not take away my belief that Alonso is the best all round driver, but it’s not the way I do my business. I don’t need to win that much.

    1. Bob S says:

      When you say that “This year both drivers have had the occasion to lap their team mate”, am I correct in assuming that statement implies that both drivers have been lapped by their respective team-mates (when in actual fact they haven’t)? When Hamilton left the pits ahead of Button in Germany, he certainly could have been lapped by Button but instead chose instead to drive away and pass Vettel (the merits of such a decision are for another debate). The circumstances pertaining to that situation in Germany with respect to Button being lapped by Hamilton in Canada were also very different. Hamilton had a first lap puncture in the Hockenheim GP whereas Button suffered no such misfortune in Canada. I may be wrong and Button may well have lapped Hamilton at some point this season, but as far as I am aware, he hasn’t. He came close, but the two were essentially driving different races because of the first lap puncture Hamilton suffered. The circumstances between Canada and Germany surely can’t be compared?
      I agree that Hamilton may have had more than his fair share of incidents in 2011, but how many cars has he ‘crashed into’ this year? Furthermore, how many times has he ‘spun out’? As far as I am concerned, Hamilton has driven almost faultlessly this season. Dragging up mistakes he may or may not have made in seasons past bears no relation to his performance this year. I’m no massive fan of Hamilton but I do recognise the wealth of talent he has and someone has to come to his defence when spurious arguments are made against him, especially when he is referred to as a ‘rabid dog’.
      F1 drivers who want to win multiple WDCs do want to win at all costs, that’s why they are F1 drivers.

  31. Sammy Ciarlo says:

    It just doesn’t exist anymore: top teams with top drivers out-qualifying each other by 1 second.
    I wonder why? Anyone?

  32. f1kings says:

    there are a lot of good points out here and some bad ones, but if you been around racing and formula one as long as i have you will know that jenson button was nobody until ross brawn put him on. he was just riding around like trulli and all the rest of the c and d class drivers.and if ross brawn and his double defuser at the time had not chose him as his driver he would be still just riding around. i myself would love to see lewis hamilton stay at mclrean, but at the end of the day it’s all about money and mclrean are not willing to put the money on the table.jenson button is no superstar and in the time of multi million dollar deals in media time endorsement for all kinds of products it’s good to have a driver that can put your team in a position to win even if the car is not up to par and we know lewis hamilton can do that.good luck with that ron dennis mr.mclrean……

  33. Harrison Vrbanjac says:

    James, do you have any comments on Alonso statment “Hamilton is the only one who is capable of winning without having the best car, which is evident as the others only win when they have a good car.”

    This not the first time he’s saying this, for me this is more a “mindgame” for Vettel then compliment to Hamilton.

    1. kfzmeister says:

      My exact thoughts on both points.

  34. tim says:

    James—Is there a reluctance amongst F1 journalists to be bluntly honest about Hamilton and his maturity? I realize that because journos have to maintain relations with teams in order to do their job that they can feel difficulty expressing what an outsider would notice immediately. If journos weren’t bound to keep these relations, would Hamilton have a different media persona than the bad-boy who’s fast but mentally fragile that he has now? Seems to me writers often try to subtly hint that the guy’s just not as sharp as many of the others.

  35. efi says:

    It seems to me senor Ramirez cought Mark Hughes flu.

  36. monktonnik says:

    Hamilton’s tweets show a tremendous lack of maturity and judgement.

    If the intra-team battle between LH and JB has such an effect on the former’s decision making that he feels compelled to tweet technical data then I would say that Jenson has already won.

    Hamilton is undoubtedly faster than Button over a single lap and has had more success in the 3 seasons they have competed together, but I believe that Lewis feels more threatened by Jenson than by any other team mate. This year it is coming to a head but I think it is fair to say that JB won the head game last year and even in their first year there were a couple of weekends where Jenson took a different direction on set up and beat Lewis, with the latter clearly struggling with that (Monza 2010?).

    Whether you think that is two faced on the part of Jenson or the sign of a driver building a team around himself to give him the best chance of victory is immaterial; this is what a driver needs to do to ensure the best chance of victory, and it is clearly a weakness that Lewis cannot do this.

  37. Ed Webb says:

    While I agree Hamilton does sometimes have a bit of an issue with his attitude I find it quite sad how so many journalists and bloggers seem to completely ignore or add as a mere footnote the fact Hamilton lost a beloved family member after a horrible illness only days before Spa. I understand this has all coincided with the speculation over his move to Mercedes which is obviously a very big news story, so to delve into speculation over mental states and relationships is very appealing, but come one cut the man some some slack for that weekend!

  38. Johnny Cochran says:

    Jenson Button is No Alain Prost.Ramirez is not comparing like with like here.The current F1 zeitgeist pits Fernando against Lewis. Fernando has already succeeded in securing a team where he is top dog and will not be under any pressure from any teammate in his dogged pursuit of WDCs unlike during his tenure at Mclaren.I hope that Lewis does not re-sign for Mclaren for this reason and seeks a similar top dog status (denied him at Mclaren)at Mercedes or other so that we can see proper non team politics limited racing from these two Titans of the modern era. The only such place available is at Mercedes Lewis.

  39. Jo Wilson says:

    Hi James,

    A small website-housekeeping point:

    May I make the suggestion that you don’t attach the podcast files directly to the RSS feed? For those of us on slow connections a 50MB file clogging up my bandwidth when trying to get at my mail is somewhat vexing! Perhaps a link to the file (whether for download or stream) might be a better option?

    Enjoying the content of both the blog and podcast though – keep up the good work.

    Jo

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that will look into it

  40. As a noon British citizen, we don´t get to much additional Hamilton press then what I personally search for on the Internet so I am happy about what ever comes up on this site since it is backed from someone who knows and someone who cares. Unless he is the biggest con man in F1 (which I seeeeeriously doubt) James is the best ever which happend to F1 fans who does not have any other insight into F1. Thank you James for this. Your homepage and your podcast. Its just great.

    To your article. It is one of the most interesting, at least for me, following the Hamilton/Button vs. Senna/Prost thingy.

    Great article. It really puts the finger on the point of the problem for both Hamilton and Button.

    Hamilton with his “almost” unparalleled talent, can race anything. If he would have been an F1 driver 20 years ago, he would today be remembered as one of the fastest and best ever. BUT racing is not only about being the fastest. Its not. Prost and MOST of all, Schumacher proved this. You need to win during a season. Button (who of course can not be compared with Prost since Button only won WC title 1 time in a car which was superior and will never win a WC title again) is however very good in this aspect. Since his talent (raw speed talent that is) is not as good as others, he needs to work extra hard on getting the car working the way he wants/needs it to be (Schumacher/Vettel the same, but they are/where more talented that Button, not Hamlton, and gets the whole picture in a better way which is why those 2 have 9 titles, same as Senna,Prost, Hamilton and Button together) if he gets this done, he wins, or finished on the podium. The problem is that he cant get that done today during a complete season. Hamilton can do it abit more. When he has the car to it…he wins even easier (the last 2 races are great displays of that).

    So what is the conclusion.

    Button needs to get the car and the team where he needs to and fast. Otherwise he wont win it over a season.

    Hamilton need to work less with his pure talent and over drive the car and instead getting the car to work FOR him (like Schumi/Vettel did/does). If he manages this, he has more talent than any other and can win many more titles and become one of the greatest ever. If he does not get this, he will never win a WC again.

  41. Trent says:

    Hi James,

    If you happen to be reading down this far, I’d be intrigued to know whether F1 insiders like Ramirez think there was any validity to Prost’s claims that in 1989 he was being given dud engines by Honda.

    It seems an odd thing to do, yet some of the qualifying gaps between Senna and Prost seemed enormous (over 1.5 seconds at Monza, for example). I would think that telemetry would have cleared up or confirmed the accusation pretty quickly, but to my knowledge it was never made public.

    I do rather suspect that Prost was lashing out at everyone by this stage, as Senna had caused his alienation from McLaren. Monza, of course, was where he famously dropped Ron Dennis’s prized trophy into the sea of tifosi from the podium.

  42. Elie says:

    Given those close 50/ 50 callls with weather or downforce – yeah Jenson gets that right but to say he’s better on car set-up is completely wrong because if that were the case Jenson wouldn’t have been languishing outside the top 8 so often before Germany and constantly struggling with his tyres during a race !

    Jo is right about Lewis desires to explain why he was beaten by his team mate is pretty accurate. No top driver likes been beaten by his team mate especially if your teammate is quite often beatable like Jenson. Not that what Lewis did was bright or anything..lol

    What I loved about your podcast is Jos recollection of Senna / Prost . Prost is my all time favorite and let’s face it, even when the cars weren’t perfect there was very little in it on race day. He was more consistently quick than any driver I recalled and made very few mistakes. I actually still miss watching him drive.

  43. Oliver says:

    But Mclaren the team was using different downforce levels for both cars. Isn’t it thus understandable that one of the setup will be the faster one. So Why does Ramirez wade into the matter like they had identical cars and one driver was massively faster. Or does he belong to the Perez for Mclaren movement?

  44. JamesR says:

    When Ramiriez suggests Hamilton has some learning to do, he’s absolutely on the button.

    By the end of 07 it was painfully obvious Hamilton had a serious issue in learning from his mistakes. He was prone to repeating basic errors and in the midst of the mitigation of youth, rookieism, and inexperience he’s continued to repeat the basic errors a child of 6 six would have learnt from.

    This latest faux pas is just another in the litany of those past and to come.

    I made the point in 2007 he’d never learn, nor would he achieve the multiple WDC’s he crave’s and he’d be fortunate if he won a single drivers crown.

    To date I’m still right on the money.

    1. Elie says:

      Ha ridiculous JamesR and the irony of this whole situation is that Lewis may even win this year !

      1. JamesR says:

        And pig’s may fly!

  45. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the drivers hate each other or are best friends, its up to the team to deliver the best car and driver combination. Its hard to point to any other driver, outside of Vettel or Alonso, who could deliver the raw pace Hamilton has. I’m not a Hamilton fan, but I can appreciate what he brings to a team. There are plenty of rookies or journeymen out there that could deliver a respectible showing, however if you’re one of the top few teams, thats not good enough to win a title.

  46. David H says:

    Hi James, I think you are a great journalist and very knowledgeable however you need to stop with this propaganda thing. Anyone who has a car to their liking is unbeatable. Not just button so stop with those tired lines. Button alos gives excuses when he is out qualified with wea lines such as ” i had no grip, or the balance changed or i could not get any heat in the tires blah blah” but you never pick up on it however when its ahmilton everyone goes crazy.

    I really do think sometimes if hamilton was a a white english man then he would not be getting this heat. American media would not be given him this heat. only english media who hate successful ambitious 1 track minded sports men and women.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think you need to read the stories more carefully

      I didn’t say any of that.

      1. Ed Bone says:

        No you did not James, that is true, you just lit the blue touchpaper and stood back. Hence a torrent of largely critical anti-Lewis commentary, a lot of it gratuitous and a lot of it uninformed and highly speculative.

        For my part I think Lewis has shown remarkable strength of character in uncertain times, amidst a barage of media attention, and yet still remains totally focussed on winning.

        Its not just that Hamilton can win in an unfavourable car, he can win in an “unfavourable” team and an unfavourable climate, something his detracters always claimed he could not.

        I have the feeling that whatever Hamilton does he will be criticised, and its time for influential bloggers like you James to set a more mature example. You are less mischeivous when you commentate for the Beeb, and a bit of balance would not go amiss here either, I hope you will agree.

      2. Vinola says:

        Well said.

        Its no accident that Ramirez gets wheeled out to validate a particular narrative (pro Button, not so subtle anti-Lewis) that gets published by arguably the most influential if not the most read f1 blogger.

        As a longtime fan McLaren, I feel its best for Lewis to vacate the team; it would do wonders for his psyche and expose the team’s weaknesses moving forward. It may end up being a win-win situation.

      3. James Allen says:

        What?

        We don’t have an agenda, and we didn’t tell Jo what to say!

    2. Phil R says:

      Can’t speak for anything produced in the American media, but as regards UK, utter rubbish.

      1. db4tim says:

        Rubbish in the U.S…also

  47. jpinx says:

    A really great podcast, with some priceless comments.

    A bit off-topic, but could we have a downloadable versions of the videos please? I would love to see the Texas track but I can’t watch it online over this slow connection.

    Thanks James :)

  48. DanWilliams from Aust says:

    The Hamilton rubbish aside (refering to the comments, I don’t mind the article).

    Enjoyed Ramirez’s comments on Senna/Prost. Something that many of us would’ve assumed, but interesting to hear about from within McLaren.

    I respect both Senna and prost equally for their approach to motorsport, competativeness, and how they handled themself on and off the track with such passion and intensity. And yet they did so so extremely different to one another. Absolutely one of the greatest battles in sporing history!

  49. AdrianP says:

    Before Italy, I remember reading that Button and Hamilton had scored more or less identical amounts of points during their joint tenure at Maclaren, with Button a fraction ahead (although Button’s DNF as against Hamilton’s 25 points will now have wrecked that). Factor into that a short period of readjustment which Button as the newcomer to the team should be allowed, and the numbers suggest that Button may have outperformed Hamilton.

    Look on the other hand at qualifying: Button has been convincingly spanked by Hamilton. Hence, the statistically attractive proposition that Hamilton has more ‘natural speed’ than Button (although these things are not always so straightforward). Let’s grant Hamilton his greater ‘natural speed’. The corollary of that is that it must be the case that Button is substantially the better driver over the course of the race, whether this is due to Hamilton’s propensity for incidents, worse car management, worse strategic instinct or simply that he cannot reproduce that one-lap speed consistently over the course of a race. One would have to conclude that Button outperforms Hamilton in races *by a substantial margin* given the sizeable disadvantage that grid position imposes – not only is Button, on average, overhauling Hamilton but he’s doing so at the same time as having to overtake other cars and/or losing time behind slower cars etc. etc.

    Feed this back into the salary debate: can Hamilton, for all his ‘natural speed’ justify pay demands which are likely to dwarf Button’s when he is struggling to bring more points home? Especially when, to put it at its lowest, he does not seem to bring much to the team in terms of his out-of-the-car behaviour.

    Hamilton’s strongest card is in reality that there are not many decent alternatives to partner Button if he goes and, moreover, Button does not have many more years in him. But most people with any sense seem to realise that Maclaren is the likeliest prospect to give him a consistently competitive car. Maclaren do want him to stay, it seems, despite any bad feeling that has broken out. Hamilton will only have himself to blame if he squanders some of his best years in an uncompetitive Mercedes.

  50. Anthony Smith says:

    Lewis “Hamlet” Hamilton, silent and brooding even after victory. What is to become of him?

    1. Mitchel says:

      As a McLaren fan:

      “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” Hamlet quote (Act II, Sc. II).

      I like both Hamilton and Button!

      1. James Allen says:

        Nice quote, not had one from Hamlet here before!

  51. Concalvez Suri says:

    Where do you based upon that Hamilton is insecure ?

  52. GP says:

    James, do you think it is unjustified that Jenson has been so heavily criticised this season with regards his qualifying times and race pace compared to Lewis?

    Compared to the time difference between Webber and Vettel throughout all of last season where Webber was often a second a lap slower Jensons pace relative to Lewis hasnt really been that bad and is merely being exasperated by the close field. Furthermore Mark has been comprehensively outpaced and out raced in the Monza and Spa yet very little had been made of it.

    Despite this Webber is often seen as the quicker driver of the two.

    1. James Allen says:

      He had problems early summer but he looked pretty fast from Germany onwards and was untouchable at Spa

  53. thejudge13 says:

    I suspect Hamilton is being pushed – by more than one party. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-22

  54. brendan says:

    on the senna prost thing he says senna is more adaptable but while team mates prost out scores senna over the 2 seasons.

    Infact he outscores him both seasons but due to the bizzare points system we had at time he lost one title.

    infact if it was the current points system(or at least the 90s one) prost is pretty comfortably no.1. over 2 seasons he scored 29 more points than senna. that in them days is alot

  55. JB says:

    I thought this year Hamilton started with mature wise mindset. Qualify well and so on. So, it would be natural to expect him to continue this momentum.

    In SPA, he didn’t do well because he couldnt get use to the low Drag wing. But his reaction where he publish the telemetry is just unprofessional.

    It reminds me of Webber whining about his lost front wing when on hindsight, it was clearly unprofessional. I see RedBull is a fair team as seen with 2011 and 2012. But Webber’s complaints in 2010 created a bias impression.

    Hamilton is still a child inside who can’t deal with many things.

    1. Ed Bone says:

      JB, I understand your point, but we dont know the truth of why he published the telemetry on twitter, although even the main article here provides speculative commentary on this. But no one other than Lewis and Mclaren know the full story of the wing, how it was allocated and why.

      Should Hamilton have published the trace? Obviously not, but he is not the only driver on the grid to make his feelings known in a very direct and perhaps unedifying manner.

      Alonso for example, his most recent outburst at Monza has him publicly demanding over team radio for a penalty against Vettel and it did not look very good when he got it at Ferrari’s home race.

      The Alonso incident for me had echoes of the good old bad old days of F1/FIA stewarding and the special relationship between the red team and the governng body and would have been the basis for a more interesting and worthwhile article.

      Both incidents do have a ring of petulance about them, but I note that it is only Hamilton who draws so much neagtive comment, and for this I cite one-sided articles like this one here as a prime instigator.

      Incidentally, I found the trace fascinating, and I would like to see more telemetry published as a matter of course in F1 as I think that it can explain a lot more about how drivers get the edge, notwithstanding team rivalries and the need for secrecy. It would be fascinating to overlay his stuff on quali laps as well.

  56. Pete says:

    Rosberg confirms he will DEFINITELY stay at Mercedes next year

    http://www.spox.com/de/sport/formel1/1209/News/michael-schumacher-soll-in-zukunft-teamkollege-von-nico-rosberg-bei-mercedes-bleiben-verbleib.html

    which means a Schumi+Lewis combo won’t happen

    basically, it’s all down to whether Mercedes can now agree terms with Schumi or not

    German media report that Schumi is not ready to retire yet

    you also cannot see Mercedes KICK out Schumi, not least since he is driving very well, has a massive fan base in Germany/the world over, and is already penciled in as a BRAND ambassador, maybe even as a potential Mercedes team-(co-)boss in the future

    still

    out of interest

    @James

    do you think there is ANY possibility of Schumacher joining a team like McLaren in a direct swap with Lewis ?

    a return to Alonso’s Ferrari is unlikely

    are there any other teams that see a chance to snatch Schumi ?

  57. Bob McMurray says:

    Just listened to my first podcast by you and it was from the GPMT. I couldn’t make the event this year (I live in NZ) but good to hear some very familiar voices. I talked, and listened, to Jo for many years at McLaren and we had some good discussions. Good to hear that he still talks with his Latin heart backed up by unparalleled insight. You can’t say he is wrong either!

  58. Ilya Kouznetsov says:

    James, this interview is absolutely stunning! Thanks!

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