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Hamilton and Button mark out their territory
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Hamilton and Button mark out their territory
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jan 2010   |  4:43 pm GMT  |  141 comments

The two McLaren drivers for 2010, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have had some revealing things to say this week as F1 gets going again after the New Year. The in house battle at McLaren will be a real talking point this year and the pair are approaching it in different ways.

Hamilton has come out strongly to challenge Fernando Alonso, who will square up to him in a Ferrari this season. If it were not for the return of Michael Schumacher, this renewal of an old and bitter rivalry would have become the leading story line of F1.

Meanwhile Button, who started work at McLaren this week having been held to his contract by Brawn and Mercedes which ran to the end of 2009, has explained a little more about the motivation for a move many in F1 are still questioning, including Sir Jackie Stewart, who this weekend raised doubts again.

Hamilton came out with his most robust statement yet about his time with Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007, in an interview for McLaren sponsor Johnnie Walker. Regular readers of JA on F1 will know that there is no subject which attracts more comment than Alonso’s rivalry with Hamilton this is partly driven by the difficulty of assessing which of them came out on top that year. They tied on points after Hamilton led most of the season. As Hamilton was a rookie and Alonso a two time champion, many people considered the season a win for Hamilton, but it is a very contentious subject. Hamilton has chose to open the can or worms up again to mark out his turf ahead of the season,

“My first season in Formula 1, alongside a world champion – a double world champion – and I blew him away. I beat him, ” said Hamilton.

“No-one has ever come into their first year and been at the front, let alone beat a world champion, beat the mentality and the strength that he would have had and his experience in Formula 1 already up to that point. I’m very proud that I had the experience of leading the world championship for most of the year, and it’s sickening, for sure, to think we lost it in the last couple of races.”

This coming week Hamilton will be working hard for Banco Santander, which is rebranding all its Abbey banks in the UK as Santander. Monday is D Day for the switch-over and Hamilton will be the face of the switchover. Santander has maintained a presence with McLaren this year for that very reason. But the bulk of their sponsorship budget has shifted to Ferrari, linked to Alonso’s move there.

Meanwhile Button has made the same move as Alonso and joined McLaren as world champion. In addition to the cultural issue of stepping into a team which Alonso concluded was all geared up around Hamilton, he will face a stiff driving challenge. Hamilton, with a world title himself, is more mature now than he was in 2007. So, all things considered, it is on paper a far more formidable challenge than the one Alonso thought he was facing. I’ve said it before, I think Hamilton improved a great deal as a driver in 2009 and is now far better than he was in 2007 and 2008. So the challenge for Button is very great. Will Hamilton “blow him away”?

“Maybe if I stayed where I was, “reflected Button this week in a teleconference with UK newspaper journalists, “It would have been harder to get a second title — maybe I wouldn’t have been so motivated. But moving to where I am now, I think it’s really motivated me. It is a big challenge but something that excites me and something I am going to work really hard on achieving this year.

“I’m not going to say he starts with a big advantage,” Button added. “I will say it’s all new to me with the team and I’ve got to get to know a lot of people and how they work, which is going to take a little time. Hopefully we will be ready for the first race.”

I think the key to this – and the difference from Alonso’s situation at McLaren – lies in another quote Button made during the teleconference,
“When I decided to join McLaren and partner Lewis, I knew it was not going to be easy but it is a challenge that I am very excited about. I don’t feel I need to prove anything to anyone.”

Alonso felt he had a lot to prove when he went to McLaren and still does today on the threshold of the Ferrari challenge. He said to me once that his motivation for racing in F1 is to show everyone that he is the best. That means that for as long as he races, the challenge never ends. He is a relentless competitor. Another key difference with Alonso is that Button doesn’t get phased when a team mate beats him, so he will be able to find his level at McLaren and co-exist quite happily with Hamilton.

Button is a competitor, make no mistake, his desire to challenge himself in Triathlons proves that. No-one who wants an easy life does Triathlons. But he has won his world title now and that was always the target. Now the new target is a second title, but he can afford to be calm. He has a lucrative three year contract in his pocket, which will take him through to the age of 33. Driving a McLaren he is likely to win more races and get plenty more podiums. Going up against Hamilton is brave but as long as he does his best he will emerge with honour as no-one expects him to beat Hamilton.

Alonso could never say that.

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James, I agree that this will be the talking point of the year, but feel it will be the journo's (no insult intended :-)) that will make the most of the relationship and probably cause the most consternation between them.

Hopefully they will just ignore it because the real power here is having two drivers that motivate and understand the meaning of team. ...that is the powerful combination, team mates that can work together for success.

I think that the biggest score board from a UK perspective will be the UK v Germany battle which you seem to have steered clear of in this article.

Both Hamilton and Button are patriotic people so could be more led by stories of Mercedes v McLaren than Hamilton v Button. I trust they handle it with a healthy respect and not fall into the easy trap that history seems to provide whenever England and Germany meet in any sport.


I'm not sure the England vs Germany thing will wash outside the media.

I'm English (British) and reasonably patriotic. (I work in the defence industry for a start!)

I'm an F1 fan, and a huge Ross Brawn fan, and I can admire the engineering approach of both Brawn and McLaren.

The nationality of their 4 drivers, none of whom live (or pay tax) in their notional home country, is just a passing fact.

F1 is global. All the brands are global. The sponsers are seeking global exposure. If you want nations, go to A1 GP 😉

But maybe it's just becasue I'm an engineer, and driven by facts not emotion!



Spot on Neil.


Seisteve, I too hope it doesn't become a UK v Germany battle. I fear the tabloids will make it so, not the pilots.

But we could be surprised. There is a good chance that Red Bull or Ferrari will dominate.

Sorry, this old soldier is tired of old wars.


Alonso has show his power under the great pressure, as happened in the last race of 2007, surely A can crash H if they have a chance to race against each other equally in 2010.


Personally, I'd hope that Button does more than just collect his pay check. He really needs to show that is up to par with Hamilton. Or the doubts that have been cast over his win of the world title, irrespectively of the race in Brazil, will hang over him for the rest of his career. He really needs to show is up there with the best. Being trounced by Ham wouldn't be good for his reputation. I do believe that the first tests and the first race will put a lot of pressure on him. He's trying to shrug all that off to the media but we saw that last year when things weren't going so well.


Great post as usual, James. At McLaren, Button may well turn into his erstwhile teammate, R. Barrichelo. Able to win, even to factor in the championship. But not the favored son.


Well-said, Jense. I've always been impressed by his using triathlons as a "hobby" that keeps him in fighting trim and I think his comments about moving to McLaren as a way to renew his challenge to himself are encouraging. I can't wait to see what the season brings.


I am not a fan of either Alonso or Lewis.

But I think, in terms of sheer pace, Lewis is probably faster by now.

To me, I think driving an F1 car is just like everything else, if you practice longer you get better.

If Lewis was a match to Alonso in his first year, it is not unreasonable to think that he may be faster by now. He had a bad car so that should make him a better driver.



I am a big Hamilton fan.

On the one hand I sometimes feel he can be more careful with his choice of words as the general feedback is he isn't arrogant.

On the other hand, he might actually be doing it deliberately and it is all part of a scheme to put pressure on himself to deliver.

What are your feelings on Hamilton and his communication? One other question. Do you think Hamilton will have to leave McLaren to prove to the world that he is not the driver he is because of McLaren?

You have officially become my 'Go To Guy' for F1 news and analysis.

Keep it up.




I know you did not ask me, but yet I think Hamilton is full of it.

That is my feeling about his communication.


this is mind games from hamilton for sure! although he beat alonso, he definately didn't 'blow him away'! hamilton knows that the general consensus is that alonso is currently the benchmark, the best there is. so to say this 'shows' him to be fearless and will, hopefully for lewis, get a reaction. alonso himself won't be phased, but i'm sure he will want to beat lewis up this year, and with all the talk(particularly from bbc) of vettel, schumacher, button etc. the real racing the fans want to see is alonso v hamilton(with a bit of schumi for old times sake!) alonso himself, i'm sure, learnt a lot in 2007, like how to guarantee certain things in his contract, something he was clearly naive to before. whilst talented though hamilton clearly is, he isn't the best driver yet and its down to alonso to show us why not this year!!!


How can Alonso be the benchmark, when he got beat by a rookie Hamilton?

Alonso lost his cool completely, and was acting like a baby for most of 2007...

That is hardly the behaviour of a worthy champion... let alone the benchmark...

Only Hamilton and Michael can be considered benchmarks, the rest are just there to make up the numbers...


guys we must bow down to RON, he clearly knows better than us all...


so ron, hamilton is the benchmark eh! well in hungary when alonso 'spat his dummy out' the real reason(i know thanks to james allen) was because hamilton went back on an agreement to move aside for alonso, as it was his turn. in my opinion the fia should have left mclaren to deal internally which would have handed wdc to alonso, but seeing as how dodgy max was still running things, then of course mclaren got penalised. and lets face it ron dennis' mismanagement didnt go unrecognised. alonso IS the benchmark as most respected pundits will tell you.


a bit of a sweeping statement methinks - Alonso (like him or not) seems to be rated the best package by many including I believe James and Martin Brundle - both of whom know a bit about the relative merits of the current crop.

on this subject James - at the risk of alienating some of the drivers - a warts and all assessment by you of the current crop would be brilliant.

I don't like Lewis's mind games (and he surely doesnt need them with his talent) - and no doubt they were adressed to his new teammate as well


lewis just prove he still inmature. and a bit scared of alonso. (saying he blew him away, just in case he get his ass kicked. so he can justify himself by sayng. "ok.. 1-1"

i was kind of loosing my anti hamilton mind.. but with this i just gained back


I'm sorry to say, they have all been wrong before. There was a lot of hype of Kimi vs Alonso, which I never believed would materialize... and it didn't...

There is a distinct difference between true greatness and hype...

Alonso, Kimi, Button are more hot air then anything else.

I think Ferrari could go without a win 2010, because Alonso is not all he is cracked up to be. And to add to Ferrari's woes, Kimi was an utter failure at car development...

Ferrari could be heading for their worst season ever...


Personally the key difference is that Button knows exactly what to expect at the Hamilton-centred McLaren team. Instead Alonso thought he we going there to be no. 1 and teach Lewis about F1, but he suddenly found himself up against a fiery competitor. I don't think he ever got over that, because in his mind at the time, only slightly beating Lewis felt like a defeat as his benchmark was to be undisputed no.1. In retrospect that was overconfident as Lewis has proven himself to be a brilliant driver, but that's probably what Alonso found the hardest in 2007.


Lewis says "you'll never hear me say I'm better than that guy...."

Clearly the "I blew him away" means exceeded Alonso's expectations.

You can listen to it here:




Don't be so naive, it was obvious what he meant

I actually respect Lewis for saying what he felt


Hamilton might check his F1 history books and take a look at 1996.


Is there anyone who thought it was Alonso who defeated Dennis’ McLaren and Hamilton, and in such a battle they both lost their titles, which all thought they could win? That year for Alonso was definitely a tragedy, betrayed by the one who lured him into Mclaren with promised support in the air, but Alonso fight fiercely and show great courage, did a great battle no one has ever seen before. Another thing in that year you might never see was a driver, driving a Championship car, leading with 17 points still lost his battle in the last three races, surely a record!


only those who are bonkers.

Alonso was expected to be the team leader. When Lewis ended up leading the championship for the majority of the year that ended up changing things.

It was still manageable up to the point that Alonso tried to blackmail his boss. Never a good idea if you expect to maintain a working relationship


Good, you can still remember strange things happened in US Sunday race that year, but it looks you forgot what happened in qualifying before that, or just ignored it.

By playing bad trick with the fuel, they made Alonso drive quicker car with heavier fuel in the last laps, help H got that pole against his teammate.

In 2010, without fueling, specifically, without re-fueling after qualifying as in 2007, I just wonder what kind of trick they could play again.

The same old rationalizations.

In 2007, Alonso was not against H, but against Mclaren(Dennis), because it was them who played such a bad trick against him.

You did not have to repeat Briatore’s point that Mclaren(Dennis) should have fired Alonso before the last three races, or just dropped him as an official driver, even with some compensation.

But I think you should have understand why Dennis did not do that, one of the reasons I believe was: just like you, he believed without any doubt that talented H with leading 17 points could beat Alonso on the track.

Very unfortunately, the result was what we all have seen.


1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:12.563 1:12.065 1:12.331

2 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1:12.416 1:11.926 1:12.500

Lap Leaders: Lewis Hamilton 66 (1 – 20, 27 – 50, 52 – 73), Heikki Kovalainen 5 (22 – 26), Fernando Alonso 1 (21)

absolutely no proof?

I do not think you are really enjoy the race, So I do not expect you could read those proofs.

Let it be.


Oh, and strange... you mean like Lewis refusing to 'let alonso by'. Strewth.


You have absolutely no proof for your accusations.

That's the great thing about them from your standpoint.

You can always propose the existence of little blue aliens.

And, just as I cannot prove that little blue aliens don't exist, I can't prove that your imaginary conspiracies don't exist.



It’s a fortunate you might understand a bit about ‘beating Mclaren’, actually, for Alonso’s 2007, my main conclusion was he had fought a great war against Mclaren(Dennis).

Mclaren always treats their two drivers equally, I heard many a time they claim like that, but I think more and more people on the earth have come to treat it as a fully joke, but you can keep your belief.

Yes, Alonso at that time was an employee of Dennis, but Alonso told employer: you should never try fooling your employee. Even if Alonso did had blackmailed Dennis, it never materialized, the scenario in that story only provide me with a picture, in which a young man for such a short time felt very angry, for what he believes very unfair. Alonso did make mistakes sometimes, because he is man in the real world.

Any respects towards Alonso are fully deserved; extra credits are paid to his spirits on the track.

He was deprived of his third title, but also gave back Mclaren(Dennis) fully what they fully deserved.


The same old rationalizations.

'Deprived', give me a break. Deprived by being unable to beat a rookie.

He should have been fired for attempting to blackmail his employer. In most normal circumstances in most businesses that's exactly what would happen.

What Alonso thought was 'unfair' were things such as not telling Lewis to pull over at the US grand prix. In other words it was he that expected the unfair advantage because "Hey, I'm the world champion"


Who do you think would expect Alonso be the team leader, when they found their MP-22 has the power to support H be a Champion, they did not need Alonso to help them reverse their dooming fate?

I did not think Alonso still felt McLaren was his team and Dennis his boss, but traitors.

I think Dennis are more clever to realize they were racing against Alonso at such a point.

After Hungary, I did not think Alonso was still expecting to maintain a working relationship with the team, but beat Mclaren, beat Dennis, and I think he won it, with great fight on the field.


Sorry, but I can't understand most of your post other than maybe the last bit about 'beating Mclaren'.

The thing is, firstly I don't believe for one moment that he was materially disadvantaged - he was treated equally.

However, did he p** Dennis off? Sure. Wouldn't you be p**d off if an employee of yours attempted to blackmail you?

Any antipathy towards Alonso was fully deserved. If he had not thrown his toys out of his pram because of being confronted by a talented rookie he would not have got in the mess he did.

So, not I don't think it was an impressive year for Alonso. Far from it. And this comes from someone who rates Alonso's driving skills very highly.

He was beaten by a rookie and couldn't handle it.


Hamilton, it seems to me, arrived in 2007 as Mclarens golden boy and through his first two seasons could do no wrong. It is beyond question that his near miss in his first season was anything other than astonishing and his performance up against the double WDC extraordinary. This time last year it was inconceivable that he would ever drive anything other than a Mclaren in F1. The notion that it is exclusively 'his' team is less convincing now and from the outside there appears to have been considerable tension within the team, Liegate, suggestions of bad feeling towards his father, even veiled threats from Lewis himself about seeking employment elsewhere mid season last year. I think JB is arriving to a significantly atmosphere at Mclaren than when Alonso joined and this will perhaps work in Jensons favour. It's a win/win situation for him because, as you point out James, no one is expecting him to beat Lewis and the worst outcome is that he will confirm what many people think of him already. If he runs LH close or matches him then his reputation is enhanced, but if he beats him........? I can't think of any other current F1 driver who would have taken on this challenge, and it would appear to be a different challenge than the one Alonso faced. And no one expected Lewis to beat him either.


member when no one would give Massa a chance against Kimi?



I was thinking about it.

Button may very likely surprise us.

And Massa could surprise us once more.


I sure hope so - go Felipe!


The rivalry and backstory to F1 is what makes this a great series. Will the get along, will Hamilton lose each race to button. Will Shumi be put in his place at Merc. Will Alonso be outclassed by Massa.

It'll be great finding out and nearly as good talking about it before, during and after.

... so why did that gearbox not quite work for Ham in Brazil a few years back? 😉 We then get to conspiracy theories...

F1 is a great sport.


I agree with everything up to the last sentence...

F1 was a great sport pre-2005... thereafter, it has been a politcal farce, with fixed outcomes...

Lets hope with Max Wosely sitting comfortably in his coffin, Todt will let the teams race each other on a fairer racing platform...

2010 has all the ingredients to be the best season ever, if the FIA don't screw it up as per normal...


I would really love to see Button beat Hamilton, simply because Hamilton really needs a big slice of humble pie if that's how he talks about other drivers.


he talks on the press, but he also talks on the track. I can live with that.


Button will be the perfect number 2.

It will be like Coulthard and Hakkinen, Hamilton will get a title or two and Button will get some more wins..


How can Hamilton claim he "blew him away" is beyond me. the fact that both finished on the same number of points isn't exactly "mind blowing" and, the fact that he was clearly aided by the whole team when Ron Dennis famously said "we were racing Alonso" doesn't exactly give his claim anything.


on this note..

What about the points taken away in Hungary?




“My first season in Formula 1, alongside a world champion – a double world champion – and I blew him away. I beat him, ” said Hamilton.

It sums up why so many dislike Hamilton. He tied on points with Alonso even with the McLaren team bending over backwards to prevent Alonso (who they knew was going to leave) from beating Lewis. Yet he's going on like he beat the guy by 50 points? Get real Lewis, great first season in F1, but even with the best car and teams backing you couldn't take the WDC.


You're talking nonsense and seriously underestimating Hamilton's talent. The guy was a rookie for goodness sake with a minimal amount of testing F1 cars, he goes up against a reigning 2xWDC and beats him in the standings, his feats in that first season were unprecedented and are likely never to be repeated unalloyed praise is in order not the constant carping from so called fans of motor racing.


Oh and for the record I hope Schumacher destroys both Hamilton and Button !


Along with the many others who have made the point I firmly believe that 2010 will have one of the best line ups in memory.

With Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes all sure to be at the front it will be very interesting to see how much of an advantage the driver's personality and experience will bring.

If Button is true to his word of joining McLaren for a fresh challenge I suspect his ability to remain calm may help keep Lewis' natural tallent in check. Certainly he has not underestimated just how difficult it will be to keep Lewis behind but he must feel that he is both physically and mentally prepared for this battle. However, I feel it will be hard for one team to keep the momentum for more than a few races.

Regardless of who finally clinches the championship next season, each driver can feel rightly proud for each hard fought point.

Has there ever been a field of more Race Winners and World Champions?


Though Hamilton has shown some maturity as a person in 2009, I believe he will always divide his fans and the rest heavily with his big mouth and big head.

Not that I'm complaining.. sport goes well when there's a villain type character.


And this year we have 2 - who's gonna draw the most comment, Hamilton or Schumacher?


I respect what JB is doing. He is setting out to beat the person considered by many to be the best in F1. If he does not beat him, he knows that he will have tried and done his best. Its not about taking things personally and trying to save face, its about pushing himself to the limit. As James said, he competes in Triathlons not for pride but to push himself.

I feel the next years will reveal the best racing from JB. In 09 he was racing for the title that was his only focus. Now he wants to push himself and his equipment to the limits of his abilities and up against Lewis Hamilton who is just at the beginning of what will surely be a legendary career.


It's interesting to read Hamilton's take on his year with Alonso: he thinks he 'blew him away'. That's an odd statement to make in the light of them being equal on points and wins. Yes, it was a fantastic achievement of Hamilton's, but he certainly didn't 'blow him away'.

It seems to me that Hamilton, Alonso and Schumacher could all have their heads tested this year. If their team-mates start beating them, I expect a LOT of toys flying out of some big, luxury prams.


James, I thought Lewis improved as a driver a lot in 2009 too. He didn't do as many stupid interviews and I didn't have to see or hear his dad all season either. And then he did this interview and removed all doubt from my mind that he is still insecure and delusional. "Blew him away" really? Tying someone is beating them? Sure he did a good job in his first season, he's an exceptional driver, but he also started F1 at a team that was not unfamiliar to him, a team that was actively working against Alonso and only for Lewis at the end of the season.


What proof do you have that McLaren were "actively working against Alonso"?

Everyone always speaks as though they somehow have the inside track on what goes on in the teams.

And no, I don't like Lewis before I get any fanboy comments


I'm not a big fan of Lewis or Alonso but it was pretty clear to me (and everyone else as you noted) that McLaren was working against Alonso. Ron Dennis was quoted on this IIRC which is part of the reason too.


Why does Hamilton have to talk like that? Put in a room with Alonso he'd never have the balls to say that to him- face to face.

On a side note, just as I was looking forward to never seeing Hamilton in my bank again, you go and tell us he'll be the face of the transfer to Santander!


Ever considered changing banks?


You have no idea how close I've been 😉


It will be interesting between Hamilton and Button, for sure. How will Martin Whitmarsh follow the Ron Dennis mantra of both drivers being equal? With all respect to Hamilton's previous stablemate, it was a rather lopsided affair. Button really has nothing to prove - nice guy wins WDC in new team's first attempt - after that headline what more is lacking?. He'll be fighting for podiums and wins this time more than ever before (bar the surprise of last year of course). Button also has maturity on his side, and, as you mentioned James, won't go off in a huff if he's being beaten.

Hamilton will test him. He has matured as a driver and on a personal level also, but the real yardstick, despite looking over at the Prancing horse's rider, will be his own teammate. He'll want to come out on top. What may be interesting is his behaviour if he's not doing well against Button.

The design and setup of the car will also have an effect - Hamilton and Button are very different drivers, and maybe compromises have to be made to favour one or the other.

Or will there be some very Gallant & Gentlemanly, exceedingly British 'After you; No after you' sort of thing, and whoever comes out of the first corner first winning, as we have seen before?


I can't see that happening (the gentlemanly stuff) - remember how much of a sulk Lewis had in Monaco 07 when he was told to hold station behind Alonso?



do you think that the McLaren team geared themselves around Hamilton (as alleged by Alonso) when they realised that he was as good as Alonso?

It reminds me of Nelson Piquet at Williams in 1986. He came to the team with a massive reputation. Everyone expected him to blow Mansell away but it did not work out that way.

Unlike Piquet, though, Alonso's reputation seems to have remained in tact. Prior to the start of 2007 season I expected Alonso to be vastly superior to Hamilton that season. Like Piquet before it didn't turn out that way. Only rookie errors denied Hamilton from beating Alonso convincingly in the end.


Of course. Parallel with Mansell doesn't quite work because Lewis was a rookie in 2007 whereas Mansell had a lot of experience by 1986 when he was paired with Piquet


can i say you are being very smart here james? .... no where in this blog or previous discussion you have given your opinion? whats your opinion abt hamilton beating alonso in 2007 james? i am sure lots of us will want to know your opinion for sure ...i know its contentious subject ..but i am sure you will have an opinion right..... also i am seeing lots of ppl telling "Hamilton beat alonso " in previous discussion cudn't dare to join here as hamilton is back with his usual "iam great" non-sense ......


james i guess you've not read my message at all..... i was asking your abt hamilton claiming "he blew away alonso in 2007" ?? .... 😛 ....


I read it, but I cannot answer every question, regrettably


I have given my view, several times, that Hamilton will qualify ahead more often than not and use that platform to get better results and more points than Button. He is a notch above Button in my view. As Gerhard Berger said, Hamilton is a killer. But at this stage we can't say much more in detail until we see what effect the new rules may have on Hamilton's aggressive style.


Appreciate your view on Mansell's experience and it is valid. However, I believe that most observers expected Piquet to totally dominate Mansell in 1986 in a way that many expected Alonso to have had the upperhand in 2007. This unexpected competition from a teammate quite clearly causes problems. I seem to remember Piquet getting very personal with and about Mansell.

Being the best driver in F1 means having the full support of a team around you. Fair play to Hamilton if he achieved that in 2007 at the expense of Alonso.

Somehow I doubt whether Senna or Schumacher would have allowed that to happen....


I have been a Lewis fan since he entered F1, but he is getting arrogant; if he keeps mouthing off about how he beat Alonso he is going to loose a lot of fans, we like a modest charming champion not a loudmouth.

Jens will undoubtedly not be as fast as Lewis at the start of the season, but we shall see if he catches up.

As Seisteve mentioned it will be interesting to see which where the journalistic focus is this season.

We wait with bated breath for an "Eddie Jordan" or indeed "Irvine" pronouncement, which it is known will be infallible in it's accuracy:-)


there is nothing wrong when a real talent like hamilton, is a little cocky. As long as the guy keeps performing, and driving withing the rules.

I actually think it is quite refreshing when there is a guy that speaks his mind, not what the pr guy tells him to do.

Here in spain, many people think the same about alonso. May be it is, because he is always being interviewed, and it gets boring . May be the same happens with hamilton in the uk.

In a sense, it was better when you couldn't listen to the drives so often. Gave them a different aura.


Being lippy never did Muhammad Ali any harm...


No James and if this were UK F1 stock cars or even BTCC I would agree.

More importantly however, Lewis has split with his girlfriend, how will that affect his mentality? Maybe he has a string of girls lined up, but he was in what for him was a long term relationship. It may throw him a bit or it may make himm more aggressive, indeed maybe that's what prompted his "trash talking".


Haven't we heard the break up stories before?


I seem to be one of the minority that thinks it wont all be cut and dried next year.

He has already collected a fortune in F1, and I in my opinion could have collected more over three years elsewhere than he will at the woking outfit.


in your opinion, who will win the following matchups?

Williams, McClaren, Ferrari, Mercedes?

I'm going Hulkenberg (a big gamble I know), Jenson, Alonso, Schumacher.

I bet not many people think Jenson will come out on top, but I think people underestimate Button in a good car.


Great question. Bit early to say. Probably Barrichello, but if Hulkenberg is worth his salt he'll trouble Rubens second half of the season. At McLaren I see Hamilton qualifying better and bagging more points, but it depends how the tyres go off as to whether Button's smoothness might help there. Ferrari will be very close, both men will fight like dogs to win out, Mercedes I'd expect Michael to get more points over a season.


Lewis views himself as the reincarnated Senna, as such was destined to have that clash with Alonso(Prost) at McLaren. It will be hard for Button to overcome such a person. That said, as it turns out I think he has a much better chance of picking up wins than if he had stayed at Brawn with Schumacher as a teammate. 2010 is shaping up to be a very interesting year with Ferrari, McLaren & Brawn all having explosive team rivalries.


but alonso and hamilton, got along better that senna and prost did. Since 1989, they were not on speaking terms.

And even though hamilton is again on fighting mode, they do not hate each other. The real problem was between alonso and dennis and witmarsh.

A thing very easy to understand when you look at dennis history. When dennis saw a driver from spain, he no longer needed, that cost him several times more that hamilton, he made up his mind.

The same happend to lauda in 1984, when prost came, on a low retainer, compared with lauda, and was even faster.



I agree.

People focus on Lewis speed when more than anything its his insane drive and will to win that mark him out in my opinion.



I'm a huge fan of both Lewis and Jenson, not so much Alonso, and I expect both to do well. I've not seen much in the way of head games from either of them during their careers; Jenson never and Lewis only when he feels he needs another tool in his box to gain an edge, so I don't really expect to see a lot of inter-team political activity from either of them this year. I think each will simply get on with it and let the track speak for them. The head games will come from Michael and Fernando and we'll see them in spades. Should be fun to watch.


It's going to be interesting to see how the garage on Button's side recive him and of course his father John Button.

They will be on the opposite side to Antony Hamilton who also attends all the races, word is that Antony likes very to be in control where as John is more relaxed.

I can see the mechanics quite liking the new atmosphere and with a relaxed Button we could be in for some suprisingly good results for Jenson.

If this happens I can see the Hamiltons spitting the dummy,and i know which side of the garage i would want to be on. What do you rekon James?


Depends on how close the competition is. I don't foresee trouble between the two drivers or their families to be honest


James, already covered the "Battle of the Dads" with-in Mclaren LOL!!!


i think button will "blew hamilton away.." and i also hope that happens

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I don't understand why there would be any debate over Hamilton vs. Alonso.....unless you happen to live in Spain!

Hamilton outqualified and outraced Alonso. He also threw away a couple of races...most memorably in Shanghai where he could have wrapped up the championship....and still ended the championship on even points.

I think that the turning point for Alonso was at Indianapolis...who can forget how Hamilton defended an overtaking move on lap 39? Hamilton was superb on the brakes in 2007 and I think that Alonso couldn't quite believe that he wasn't able to overtake on that long straight. His frustration turned to anger against the team with the feeling that Hamilton the rookie should have yielded and not made him (the No. 1) look ridiculous.

No one could believe how Hamilton fell off the pitlane in Shanghai. I know several people in South America who believe that Hamilton's car was subject to witchcraft (seriously)!

Since then, I have questioned as to how great Alonso really is. He had a huge tyre advantage and suspicious technical advantage in 2005 against an ailing Ferrari. In 2006 he lucked out on Schumacher's mechanical failure and MS's Monaco penalty from Parkgate.

Alonso whinges on about bias from the team versus Hamilton. Well, it couldn't be nationality..otherwise Coulthard would have been favoured vs Kimi. It was probably a feeling from the mechanics and other team staff that Hamilton was simply the greater talent.


Well there's no debate, as long you ignore Malaysia, Monaco, Italy, and Belgium where Alonso and Hamilton were together on the racetrack throughout virtually the whole race and Alonso seemed to outperform Lewis - and in the case of Malaysia/Italy/Belgium by sizeable margains as well.

Once you see past your heroworship, there's a debate to have about who was better.


i agree PaulL. I think mike from medellin is not objective when talking about alonso.

During 2007, they were very close on performance. The fact that hamilton was new, may be compensated a bit, by alonso being new on the bridgstones. Nobody knows. This is what makes this fight very interesting, and i think the one that is going to be for the championship.

James, i heard that the reason why hamilton was so agressive on strategy in china 2007, was because they wanted to wrap-up the title there, and punish alonso not letting him drive on the last race in brazil, like some members of the british press suggested to dennis, months before. Do you think this was the plan, and blew in front of there faces? Or maybe just nonsense.


I agree about the Bridgestone point. All those who had picked up on Alonso's driving style pointed to the fact that he didn't anymore seem to throw the car into corners. Alonso's adaptable and all the greats are, but for sure his experience was rendered less useful.

Apparently Hamilton had done GP2 in 2006 on Bridgestone slicks which had similar characteristics to their F1 tyres.

James, I remember your article for ITV-F1 reviewing China 2007 (starting off with "Formula 1.. bloody hell". I thought your article was really good, summed up the feeling of the moment quite well no matter who the reader supported for the title.


Yes I do. I remember it very well. They went for gold when all that was needed was pragmatism. Massa had already stopped so to bring Hamilton in the worst that would have happened is he would have finished third behind Raikkonen and Alonso. Instead he dropped 10 points to Raikkonen.


Sure, they were evenly matched. But then one of them was a 2xWDC with years more experience, and one of them was a rookie.


Reply to PaulL

We'll have to agree to disagree.

I think it's simply delusional to think that having to cope with internal changes within F1 is equivalent to the learning curve for a rookie.

And Lewis had new team, new people, new tyres.

These are the same old straws that Alonso fans clutch at every time.

You need not bother responding. I've seen this conversation before, and if you're willing to skew your reality this much I'm not going to convince you otherwise.


New team, new people, new tyres for Alonso. The same could less be said for Lewis because he had been with the team for 10 years albeit without driving for the F1 team as yet. He had Bridgestone experience in 2006 too.

All I'm saying is that it's not as significant as if he had come to Renault Michelin and done what he did.

What really is impressive to me is that Senna came to McLaren where Prost had won 20+ races / 2 championships, and edged out Prost in his first season.


James do u think like I do that button needs an enormous start to the season if he stands anychance this year at all. Because if he isn't ahead mclaren will turn him into a rear gunner for hamilton because next years world championship is going to b a dog fight between four teams. Also I really don't think he stands a chance at all as lewis is a better quailfier than jenson and button won't beat him if he starts behind him


Not sure about that - he is world champion after all


No - Button is not a real WDC.

The double diffuser, that the FIA took half a season to clarify is the WDC...


The maturity and experience of Jenson will allow him to compete with Lewis on a regular basis. There will be some tracks which favour either driver. If he can consistently out qualify Lewis then I can see him finishing ahead of his team mate in the race.


Going into McLaren, I thought Alonso was the ultimate driver. So composed and unflappable against Schumacher, I thought we had a real great on our hands (still do). Then what I saw unfold before me with Hamilton was truly amazing. Anyone who starts saying it was Hamilton's team have lost control of their senses, most were questioning who he was, never mind being his team!

In those early days, I saw Alonso flap and make more errors than in the previous seasons against Schumacher, truly remarkable. A complete rookie who had not driven most of the tracks was taking it to the 2 times WDC and showing him how it should be done.

Hamilton's inexperience and the team making uncharacteristic errors at the end cost Hamilton the title. They may have ended up on the same points but in reality it never got that close.

I think we are so lucky at this present time, to have one of the greatest driver line ups maybe ever. There are about 7 drivers out there who could be justly be crowned WDC next season, all going to come down to the equipment and that little bit special possibly.


Exactly. When people talk about Alonso "coming into Lewis's team" what they fail to admit is at best that's because Lewis made it his team; it certainly wasn't his team to start off.

It would be bizarre to think that a team would prioritize a rookie over a 2xWDC.

Of course by later in the season, Mclaren could see that Lewis wasn't your average rookie.


Frankie, it wasn't the team that made the errors. It was Hamilton slithering off the pit lane into the gravel in China. Shutting down his car in Brazil. Blowing a 17 point lead to Kimi with two races to go in '08. Barely squeaking by on the final corner in'09...if that's "showing us how it should be done" then I am at a loss. Jenson winning in stunning style in Brazil (with one race to go and with a much more convincing lead than LH the year prior) Kimi coming from 17 pts behind to hunt LH down and take the title at the last THATS how it's done mate. 🙂


This is a sticky situation for me. Being british I like Jenson....and I like Lewis.... but for me driving entertainment is wear it has to lie...

Jenson is smooth, very neat... great! but lets face it a bit boring... really sorry Jenson

I love how Lewis can make mistakes, and he does that when you see him getting that 110% out of the car which is forgivable. If I were a team owner, I would like that, I think it's unforgivable when a driver is in a car, that's below and instead of getting that 8th place, lags about and get 10th...

Monza Lewis crashing after sitting in 3rd (or was it 2nd can't remember) point is, he was flipping pushing hard, and wanted that extra place and blew it, but it was the determination that wins it for me...

Jenson may find a style int he mclaren that really suits him and he can use it to defend his title, and I really hope he can, but I just get that 'gut' feeling that if he does, Lewis will find that extra (schumachar style) from nowhere and beat him...

Bottom line is, we have a Lewis, Michael and Fernando war on... there is no place for anyone else!


Intresting article James as you "sound " as if you have moved your possition from when you first broke the news that Button had signed for McLaren.

I tend to agree more with this post than your previous as in i feel Button may be more relaxed this year with a WDC under his belt, and i think most people agree that Button drives more smoothly when he is relaxed

Although " I blew him away " may be an exageratiion i do belive Hamilton came out on top with it being his rookie year.

That covers 3 of the drivers and i still cannot decide who will come out on top in 2010. and i aint mentioned Shumacker,Vettel,Massa,Webber,Rosberg,Kubica

Nor the fact that most are in new machinary and teams

Intrtersting times ahead simples no!


Well I cannot claim to have broken that story, others had it before me. I didn't think it likely until he went to McLaren for a visit.


We all know Lewis has speed,that is a no brainer,but Jenson has shown he is not far off at all,and we will see this soon.Come race,or should I say,3 quarters into the race is where you will see Jenson leave Lewis behind.Not by alot,but Lewis will struggle.He may know his team and all the important things needed for confidence,but you cannot teach him to change his style over night and become smooth like Jenson.

Lewis,take a chill pill,and wait till the end of race 1,and if you are ahead of Jenson,I'll be very surprised....because it will not happen,unless Jenson has a problem with his car,or other misfortune....

Jenson knows Lewis is fast,but Lewis doesn't know how smooth Jenson is,and that is difficult to change....but we will soon see...


I think Jenson & Lewis will work it out! I think it could get messy but they may have more to worry about than each other.

However the funiest 'pre-season' thing I've heard is poor Nico saying he expects equal status at Mercedes!

Good luck with that one!

Crid [CridComment @ gmail]

After Ryangate (MelbourneGate?) it's at least noteworthy that a bank is using Lewis as the face of integrity... In 2010!


Hamilton is obviously the one feeling the pressure right now. All this blather about having "blown away" Alonso is a sure sign of nerves on his part. Why would it be necessary for him to point this out at all? (not to mention that his point his highly debateable) Jenson is taking it all in stride and generally staying out of the fray it seems. The irony is that it's Hamilton who is under the most pressure to produce this year. Button will remain cool as he settles into his new home at McLaren. He has a three year contract so he can take the long view. No one expects Button to beat Hamilton. So he's actually in a good place. The expectations are much greater where Hamilton is concerned.


Hamilton feeling the pressure? I don't think at this point. It is just a little mental therapy, to see if it affects alonso a little. He knows that if he can get into alonso's mind, he might make mistakes. He did during the 2007 mid part of the season.

I think though, alonso has better things to focus now. Like the wrooom reunion on the italian alps.

Hamilton is going to do better than that. And remember, alonso is surrounded by the ferrari team now. On 2007, he didn't feel loved from part of the mclaren team. That was what make him a little vulnerable.


It's already been said, 'Jenson is a great driver of which there are many on the grid, Lewis is an exceptional driver who generally only come about once in a generation'. Would Jenson have won last years championship had the Brawn car not been so dominant at the start of the season post major rule changes and the rest playing catch up....probably not. In the past Eddie Irvine & Rubens, though both great drivers were competely outshone by Schumi as was DC by Mikka at Mclaren. Indeed Eddie said that Schumi could reduce the laptime of the same car he was driving with his aggressive style, worth up to a second a lap, Lewis is out of the same mold. Jenson is going to have to drive out his skin but I still fear all he will see is the rear spoiler of Lewis in the distance. No pressure then Jenson! If the Ferrari and Mercedes are good from the first lap we are in for a cracking season.


Howard, with all due respect (to you) what exactly has Lewis done to warrant the "once in a generation" label? He has some modest achievements thus far. I am a fan of his, but fail to see how he is this sort of demi-god that some fans (and the press) try to make him out to be. Most "generational" talents are deemed so AFTER they actually achieve something extraordinary. Not before.


It's amazing the number of people who misinterpret Ron Dennis's remark "we were basically racing Alonso".

Ron was working on Lewis's side of the garage and Martin Whitmarsh Alonso's. At the race in question Kimi was to far ahead to be caught.

If you'd asked Whitmarsh the same question he may well of said the same thing, "we were basically racing Lewis".

There are two sides of the garage at McLaren racing against each other with, as far as possible, the same equipment. I've never heard Alonso complain he had been given an inferior car by design.

As for Alonso's speed a recent remark he made was interesting: " I may not be the fastest driver in F1 but..."

I think he suspects the young guns like Vettel and Hamilton are faster than him but less experienced.


i think what alonso is saying is that he mite not be the fastest over a single lap but his consistency and no mistakes in races plus the fact he never lets an oppurtunity slip by is what he is talking about


After watching the races in 2007, I think the main differences were in race strategies, who would take on a little less oil so have a better chance to get starting ahead of the other.

Button is lucky, under the new fuel rule of 2010, he could less worry about team's arrangements during the qualifying.


I think Ron was caught red-handed with that remark. Not that it proves mechanical/strategical favouritism, but it shows where the loyalties lied.


I'm afraid that is not true. Ron didn't 'work' on either side of the garage. He sat above everyone, but got more closely involved when he got tense


tense? that is de definition of the 2007 season.


But, James, don't you think that the quote still is mischaracterized?

He was talking in reference to the strategy for Lewis at the time (IIRC). So, the only inartful word he might have used is 'we'. But then what else would he say. And, even with that its often stretched even further to indicate Lewis was somehow getting preferential treatment.

Personally, I actually think Mclaren would have been fully within their rights to fire Alonso after he had attempted to blackmail them. And, yet even so Dennis maintained equity.

What I find a stretch is people's expectations for him not to maybe end up, on a personal level, wanting Lewis to win rather than Alonso. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, as long as you're fair. And, there's never been any concrete evidence to suggest otherwise.


I believe the refuelling ban will work to Jenson's advantage.


maybe, but don't bet against hamilton. He is a very fast learner.


James, do you find it a bit sad that some sections of the British press already seem to be stirring up a civil war type scenario between Jenson and Lewis

IMO there won't be any problems, both guys seem to get on well

On the racing i don't think it is as cut and dried as some people think, i can see a tortoise and hare scenario playing out, Lewis driving the balls of his McLaren, sometimes destroying his tyres and having to make an extra stop, while Jenson goes on his merry way

Anyway forget them two, the real battle will be between the girlfriends, and IMO there's no contest, Jensons girl is in another league to Lewis'


Lewis must have heard you, he has parted company with his girlfriend and will presumably be looking to upgrade.


Would you not say that Alonso has had bad cars ever since returning to Renault?


Disappointing to hear Hamilton use that kind of tone in a interview for a sponsor. I am all for mind games against the competition but I feel that to state that he "blew away" Alonso is inaccurate and rather gives a bit more strength to Fernando's cause. I think it patronises his fans and anyone without a short memory. He is tarnishing a great achievement.


Arrogant remarks from a world champion. You would never hear Schumi, Mika or indeed Alonso say stuff like that. My respect for Jenson is growing by the day in that he wants to take Lewis on, he has way more respect for his fellow drivers than Lewis does.


"Arrogant remarks from a world champion. You would never hear Schumi, Mika or indeed Alonso say stuff like that. "

Very funny, excellent! 🙂


Button's WDC was a complete farce - the FIA needed to keep BrawnGP by attracting sponsortship, so they gave them a massive advantage in the form of the diffuser.

Now, with Button moving to McLaren, we will see his real worth. Button will be left spinning on the spot on each race...

Button will make the Mclaren look like a Minardi...

On average, Button may be up to 1 sec off Hamilton's lap pace...

It's going to be an epic beating of a fake WDC holder...


One second? Buddy, you might want to take a look in the history books. Jenson Button is not the slouch he was made out to be in 2008. Jenson Button is one of the finest racers of his generation, so fast and skilled that your beloved Lewis Hamilton looked up to JB when JB was "just" a karter (I say just in quotation marks because Jenson was racking up wins like it was going out of style at the time). Button, had he agreed to a deal offered by Ron Dennis in the late 90s, could have been in Hamilton's place, even in Kimi's.

Jenson Button was never not contesting F1 championships out of lack of talent, he fell off the motorsport ladder after a decent showing in a satelite F3 outfit owing to lack of funds - a problem Hamilton never had because McLaren stepped in. Button literally had few options other than to drive for Williams in 2000 - and he readily admits that was probably too early. It got worse when the Benetton team he raced for in 2001 was a complete disaster. But he rebuilt, and strongly lead the new Renault team the next year.

Again, right place at the wrong time. Alonso reaped the Renault rewards in Jenson's place. Time and again circumstance prevented Button from showing what he was made of. The unique circumstances surrounding Jenson's place at Honda, then Brawn, have put him back on the ladder, right where he should be: the top tier of F1.

Incidentally, I suggest you make that "the diffuser is why they were quick" crack to the Mercedes GP designers and engineers and watch them fall about laughing. No one part of that car made it quick - which probably explains why they won several more races after the other teams added double diffusers AND why Button made mincemeat out of the Williams and Toyota drivers who ALSO had DDs - Williams at one point at least were running the most advanced one of the lot. Look where that got them.


Well, we'll talk again after 2010 season...

As for the diffuser, it impacts the entire car aero package... so off course, the other cars are going to be further disadvantage as they add a diffuser and fix all the other aero problems it creates...

The FIA waited and waited for clarification on the diffuser because they wanted to attract sponsorship to Brawn and damage FOTA... that's all that happened in the borefest of 2010.

Button will be blown clean out of the water in 2010... it's going to be pretty extreme, I suspect...


It's a shame that Hamilton fans seem to share his arrogance


I've read people comparing Hamilton/Button to the Senna/Prost pairing, but I don't think the Hamilton/Button rivalry will be as close as that. What made Prost great wasn't just his speed and smoothness, which Button has, but his obsessive attention to detail with race strategy and car setup. And I don't think Button comes close to Prost in that respect. Whereas Lewis tries to model himself after Senna, always pushing himself to be faster and better.

As for Lewis's comment about Alonso, it does sound silly and dickish, but he's totally convinced that he's the best so we shouldn't be so surprised to hear him say that. I just hope he backs up his trash talk by winning more races.


Hey James I have a quick question 4 u mate.

I am a big Button fan and I really hope he can show Lewis what he is made of this year. One thing I think will play into his favour is the fact that with no refeulling, it will be a big advantage to the driver that can use his tyres better. Jenson has always been good on the tyres with his smooth driving style, hence the first 7 races of 2009. Lewis has always had tyre problems, Turkey 2007 and 2008 come to mind. Do you think this will be a big factor or it won't really make a difference?


Great question. I've heard different answers from various F1 engineers on this, including ones from McLaren. Some think it will some think it won't. On paper it should make a difference, but until they get out there and put in the long runs in testing in that car on those tyres, you can't really say for sure. Hamilton will have to adapt his style, so he is the one with some work to do. But then Button has to learn the team and the engineering staff and so on.


Let us remember that at the start it's going to be like having two medium sized (european) adult passengers on board the car as well as the driver. Whereas last year it was just one skinny model! Better traction, but much harder on the brakes. Indeed brakes will become a much bigger factor this season, but the extra load may well warm the tyres up much quicker.

The tyre warmers are restricted this year to the outer surface only, not the almost complete blanket previously used. There could be some dispute that the centre pads are not actually heated, but merely retaining heat, thus still allowed.


I like Lewis and I quite like Jenson. But, which one is best?

There is only one way to find out!



Good call! I'll be watching that after the first qualifying session to see if Hill does that.


i think that at end of season hamilton will come out on top. the main difference being that while button is a great driver when the car is 100% to his liking but once that drops off a little he struggles as we saw mid season last year. but hamilton is able to just drive the wheels of his car to make up for the performance deficit by just driving aggressivley...we saw that last year...button cant do that.

buttons only hope is that the tyres play a massive role in the races because hamilton will struggle with them wearing because of his driving stlye.

i dont expect button to beat hamilton often in qualifying and in fact if mclaren have a car thats near the front i think hamilton will be on pole for half the races i think he is the fastest guy out there over a single lap.

its going to be an intresting year thats for sure


The two words that spring to mind reading Hamilton's comments are 'mind games'. I think it is safe to say that Lewis considers Fernando Alonso his main rival in 2010, that is if both their cars are capable.

On the subject of 2007, I am convinced that Alonso was promised the earth when he signed to McLaren back in 2005 which simply wasn't the case in the end. When you think about it, Ron Dennis must have offered him one hell of a deal to leave Renault, especially after just claiming his first championship.

Secondly, I believe everyone involved assumed that Juan Montoya would be Alonso's team mate for 2007, which we know now was not the case. Montoya's departure in the summer of 2006 changed everything, and paved the way for Hamilton's rise to an F1 race drive.

I simply do not believe that Alonso's dramatic fallout with Dennis and McLaren was just based on events that happened in 2007, but to those that happened before.


The only reason McLaren hired Button was to milk the fake WDC for marketing, and as a bonus, he Button maybe just as good as Heikki...

Button, at his best, may contribute a few constructors points to the WDC...


Get a life mate, you're boring

I'm a Jenson fan but at no time do i feel the need to have a pop at Lewis, i like the guy but SOME of his 'fans' are the most moronic and disrespectful in F1



That is indeed possible. It obviously took away a bit of the gloss from Ferrari's capture of Fernando Alonso, and the Mercedes Benz shift towards the Brawn Gp team. I have often wondered in recent weeks, that maybe the Michael Schumacher move to Mercedes was known months ago. That surely would have been motive enough for Button to jump ship.


Nice choice of headline - I've just got the image of the two of them peeing all over their respective cars and areas of the garage

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