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McLaren: Two sides of a victory
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McLaren: Two sides of a victory
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Mar 2010   |  12:54 am GMT  |  601 comments

I’m very interested in the response of McLaren and its two drivers to the events in Australia. Jenson Button won the race with a performance of measured perfection and instinctive tactical brilliance, while Lewis Hamilton lit up Albert Park with his audacious passing, but ended up looking diminished in comparison with Button, less in control of his destiny, less mature.

Button: Nothing to lose (Darren Heath)

That isn’t so surprising; Button is 30 years old and ten years into his F1 career, whereas Hamilton is 25 and only three years in. Perhaps because he won the title so early in his career and has been a front runner since day one, we forget that he still isn’t the complete package.

But today the difference between them was highlighted in several ways. Button instinctively knew that lap 6 was the right moment to gamble on a switch to dry tyres. His first sector made him and us wonder whether it was the right choice, but he was soon up to speed and from then on there was no doubt.

When everyone dived in for tyres, he moved up to second place behind Vettel and was well placed to take the lead when the Red Bull car failed again. From there he measured the gap to the opposition, trimming the car using the front wing adjuster and showing the same ability to nurse a set of tyres he showed in Monaco last year, the cornerstone of that victory.

The confidence that Button now has since winning the world title is there for all to see. It’s in the way he walks through the paddock, conducts interviews, greets people. He’s achieved his goal, he is loving life as an F1 driver and whatever happens from now on is a bonus. Fear of failure is no longer part of his game and that is a mighty powerful weapon.

His mechanics love him already. He comes in and thanks them for their work at the end of every day and they appreciate his honesty on the days when he doesn’t get it right.

If Button is about swagger, mixed with savvy and subtlety, Hamilton is all about the warrior spirit, but the fear of failure is still there. He was aggressive from the outset and pulled off some stunning moves. He was never going to beat Button because he didn’t take the early tyre gamble but a podium was there for the taking.

Hamilton: Painful lesson (Darren Heath)

But unlike Button he wasn’t leading from the cockpit, he was still dependent on his engineers to tell him what to do on tyres and they felt that he would benefit from a second set of dry tyres, expecting the cars around him like the Ferraris and Kubica to do likewise. But as Fernando Alonso said, the simulations in no way recommended sacrificing track position for a second or two per lap of speed advantage. Track position is king.

McLaren’s decision was partly informed by the belief that Hamilton would struggle to make it to the finish on a single set of tyres, unlike Button.

Realising the decision had been wrong he criticised the team in a radio transmission which was heard by the world, which showed a lack of composure.

“All I know is the guys do, always, a fantastic job, but the strategy was not right,” he said after the race. “Everyone else in front of me did one stop and for some reason I did two.”

It’s the “for some reason” part of that sentence which rings hollow in comparison with Button’s decisiveness.

It reminded me of China 2007, where Hamilton lost the world championship by staying out too long on a set of tyres that everyone could see were destroyed. He slid off into the gravel trap on his belated way into the pits.

On that occasion he was led by the team, which was trying to win the title that day, rather than take a safe podium that was there for the taking and which would leave him with a simple tap-in at the final race. That was McLaren hubris at its most extreme.

Yesterday Hamilton showed he is still dependent on them for decisions, but unfortunately for him, Button showed what leadership from the cockpit is all about and the contrast is painful for Hamilton. He will be stinging.

It comes at a time when he is coming out of the protective cuccoon of his father Anthony, facing the world as his own man. The lesson of Melbourne is that as a driver he clearly has some life skills to learn.

He has exceptional skill behind the wheel, of the kind which could make him one of the greats, but until he can add that extra dimension of leadership and racing intelligence from the cockpit he will not be the complete package.

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Stuart Urquhart

Well said James. Spot on!

There's a very interesting psychological dynamic developing within the team. Even as a Button fan, I'd expected things to go in Lewis' favour this year, but what a measured performance today.

There will be days when Lewis is uncatchable but this result certainly bodes well for Jenson at McLaren going forwards. Perhaps it wasn't as risky a move as it first looked then.


Was there not a sense with the McLaren garage that they would try to keep button out on that set of tyres but changing Hamilton's would have covered them in case all the other front runners came in to get another set?

In any case, Hamilton really should become one of the greats that race was amazing, his overtaking moves were just unmatchable by anyone on the field. lets not forget that.


Sure, JB's driving is kinder to the tyre than LH. But there were indications from Bridgestone that the options could last the distance.

It just different teams/ drivers opt for different strategies. I think it is wise of McLaren use do this, 8 pts in the bag is better than nothing. We don't want a repeat of China, do we??


Agree totally. In choosing to pit Hamilton, it gave McLaren a split strategy in case the original option tyres couldn't handle 50+ laps - and no-one thought they could around the time of lap 40.

If the tyres could handle it (and Button would be the best person to *try* to make it happen), then McLaren win.

If the tyres couldn't handle it, then Lewis would win instead. But if Alonso, Massa and Kubica stayed out, then he still stood some chance of overtaking, just because of his driving style, especially if it started to spot with rain again.

I think McLaren made a good tactical call at the time, in terms of the team, and trying to ensure they finished with at least one driver on the top step.


If there is anything at all in your argument, it is that Button can preserve his tyres, Hamilton cannot. That is what dictated the call.


Lewis has always been hard on his tyres .. BUTTON=PROST 🙂


sorry but Hamilton can preserve his tires too - that is why now Whitmarsh thinks he could have lasted the race and they could have nailed a 1-2. Don't forget Whitmarsh and Lewis have supremely more data than us here. Listen to what they are saying.


As neither a fan of Lewis or Button (more F1), I wonder if in the coming years this will end up as a Prost/Senna battle. One smooth and calculating the other ruthless (if not wreckless), cold talent.

For my mind, Lewis needs to mature if that is going to happen. At some stage you have to stop infering blame on your team when things don't work out or go wrong. I still can't believe that most of the blame was shipped onto the team when he lied to the stewards.


Just two weeks ago at Bahrain Burton was having his own blame gaming with the car. Truth is Burton is just as much a blame shifter as any driver on the grid.


Sorry but I disagree pretty much completely.... The real difference was that Jenson took a gamble that paid off, Lewis/the team took a gamble that didn't pay off.

Yes Jenson made his call but all the commentators thought he was mad, the 4 people in my sitting room all thought he was insane when he came out the pits and went pretty much straight off the track.

The team took a gamble that Lewis on fresh rubber would be able to catch and pass the cars in front, if they didn't stop for fresh rubber. The problem was that Renault and Ferrari also took a gamble that they could hold a charging Lewis (and Webber) and it paid off for them.

Ok lets break it down a bit further by looking at the drivers and situations about each McLaren driver.

Jenson knew his tyres were ruined when he came in, and he knew that if he stayed out for another lap it was likely he would tumble down a still tightly packed field. He considered that risk against his judgement that there was a dry enough line to make the dry soft tyre work, also the fact he is one of the drivers who excels on such situations. Consider his 1st race win Hungry... Consider his performance in every wet race (yes he messed up a wet quali in Brazil, but that was as much mistiming as anything else in the strangest quali session I have ever seen) last season....

Now lets look at Lewis, he was stuck behind Kubica and seemed to be able to make no inroads against him, he had 2 Ferrari's sitting on his tail, just waiting to pounce. It was entirely possible that Massa could Webber him and unlikely but still possible that Massa could over take him if he made a move on Webber that failed, and who was riding Massa's tail and unlikely to want to sit in 5th all day when he was a couple of seconds off 3rd place / 2nd when Seb retired. Lewis was in a very precarious position when the choice to bring him in was made.

Now lets balance that against Lewis... He is a phenomenal racer he can and did put in blinding laps on his fresh rubber, if Ferrari/Renault had blinked and pitted for fresh rubber then they would come out seconds behind Lewis on cold tyres vrs his hot ones and Lewis would be gone. We also know that Lewis is a skilled and adventurous overtaker, its highly plausible that he could and would overtake Alonso/Massa/Kubica if he had fresh rubber against their old and tired rubber.

As I said at the start both drivers took a calculated gamble, one paid off the other didn't. We also don't know what would have happened in the next few corners if Webber hadn't had his slowing down problems...... Lewis and Alonso would have been on different parts of the track and fighting for position over the next couple of corners.... Lewis on fresher Rubber than Alonso and he could have had a chance at a really struggling Massa....

As for the whole team dynamics.... Do you really think that those involved in the decision on the pit wall weren't being far harsher on themselves than the criticism that Lewis made over the radio?


Yes Jenson made his call but all the commentators thought he was mad, the 4 people in my sitting room all thought he was insane when he came out the pits and went pretty much straight off the track.

The problem with your analysis is:

a) You are not driving the car. Just as Martin and David were not driving the car - they had no clue as to what it felt like to be doing that. Jenson did. That is why he could make the call and not think it mad. And it is why the commentators, including ex-drivers and ex-team-boss cannot make that call.

Oh and the small difference, that you, like me, have never driven and F1 car and have zero idea what it is really like. You only have to look at the pathetic drive by Richard Hammond (Top Gear) in the Renault a few years back to see just how hard it is. He is used to powerful cars but didn't even get the Renault to 100% throttle for 1 second. F1 cars are a different world alltogether.

b) It doesn't matter what anyone thinks, apart from the people involved in the decision. In this case Jenson. In Lewis's case, his engineers and possible MW.

As for Lewis, yes, super fast catching them, destroying his tyres in the process, then not being able to do anything when he gets there. I would not be at all surprised that if he had not changed tyres, he may have caught and passed Jenson and then later Jenson would have eaten him for lunch having saved his tyres while Lewis burned his.

They have different driving styles. Lewis's style is more flexible, but on a day like this, Jenson's style is going to pay out, the longer it goes, the better for him.

It will be an interesting year (I hope). Jenson will shine on occasions when people don't expect it. Lewis will be gung ho pretty much all the time.


Couldn't agree with you more Andy. I always find James' articles interesting and well informed however this piece couldn't be further from the mark... "measured perfection and instinctive tactical brilliance" from Jenson??? Taking a gamble due to his inability to make the inters work for more than six laps is now called measured perfection? I think not... Button was very lucky.

As far as what happened with Lewis I believe it was a fair call from McLaren. They were covering all their bases by putting one of them on fresh rubber, & Jenson got the priority call and kept track position because he was in front. No one had done 50 laps on the soft tyres in Melbourne so it was entirely possible they would all need to pit twice. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...


Hi James, When I said that Jenson's inters were 'shot', I was referring to the link below. I admit that he didn't actually use the term 'shot', but in essense, he said he was struggling for grip.



I agree with Andy too. This is all hindsight. I'm not sure what race James was actually watching, to call Jenson's decision tactically brilliant? I suspect James knew very well that he'd stir up a hornets nest by writing that piece! And to an extent, we've all bitten!

Lets look at some facts. Jenson had already been passed, for position, by Lewis, who started 8 places further back. Jenson was going backwards, in terms of losing time to the leader and his inters were 'shot'. He was offered a 'window' by McLaren, in which to pit. He made a bold decision to go in sooner, rather than later and for that he deserves some credit. However, he confirmed himself that his inters were shot and he was losing time to the leader. So in reality, what did he have to lose?

Had Vetel's car been reliable, nobody would be talking about this.

Martin Whitmarsh has been very clever, in 'bigging up' Jenson's role. I think he's done this for two reasons. Firstly, in order to bolster Jenson's confidence, which is no bad thing. He's new to the team and does appear to work best when he's totally at ease with the car and his surroundings. Therefore, this is very good man management by Whitmarsh. Secondly, as Lewis appeared to be 'hard done by', in this case, it goes against the conventional wisdom of some that the team is geared around Lewis. I've never believed this.

I suspect that in bringing in Lewis twice, McLaren were actually trying to cover their bases. If the guys ahead of Lewis began to experience severe problems with their tyres, combined with Lewis quickly catching up, they'd have no choice but to pit and Lewis would probably have won the race. However, if they didn't go off, Jenson had a sufficient gap in front. Either way, they were covered. I'm not anti Jenson and was very happy he won the race, as a brit. But for me, the best drivers of the day were Fernando, who was in last place and Lewis, who got by Button, Massa and Rosberg.


How could the inters be "shot" when the first four laps were under a safety car and on lap 5 he was the fastest of the top seven runners?


Only problem with your view is now Whitmarsh knows they could have had a 1-2. Whitmarsh has more information because he is manning the race and we are not. He is on the pitwall. He has expensive maps and simulations and can see how Lewis is using his tires from super computer analyses. My view is he has this and more ie 20 years worth of experience - his team should not be making these sorts of mistakes where couch potatoes like us can then have a chance at second guessing his decisions. What is the use of a GBP250 million budget if somebody with a remote control half drunk on a sunday afternoon can make better decisions from 6000kms away? Or even the same decisions for that matter! It is rediculous, right? That is why one would think there is more to that team call than meets the eye.


completely agree with Andy, hindsight is the most wonderful of visions...we did not have the data, and even so Alonso was always going to be very difficult to pass he is a fantastic driver - but Hamilton was fast enough and if Webber had not pranged him he could still have overtaken at least one Ferrari.


Hindsight is such a wonderful thing....

If Lewis had been able to overtake the 3 drivers on old rubber he caught up with at 2 seconds a lap, then McLaren and that decision would have been hailed as every bit as excellent as Jenson's. I would also imagine Alonso would be spitting dummies about Ferrari calling him in.

As for us still drunk and wide awake people watching it at silly o'clock in the morning... We thought Jenson's decision to change to dry tyres when he did was insane, along with the commentators.

Its easy being a couch boss, because we know that if they had listened to us then they would have won and when they do things we disagree with but win regardless we can just laud them as heroes and pretend that we never called them idiots in the 1st place.


I wasn't going to comment on this article as there was so much I shook my head at, so thanks Andy for stating it lucidly.

This is a fickle business but sometimes I'm amazed at it, anyway.


I've heard The Flav wasn't expecting a lamp post or a brick to win again in Melbourne.

I certainly share your opinion Stuart. From the Schumacher grandstand, it was very noticeable that Jenson was managing his tyres whereas Hamilton, Webber and Alonso looked completely ragged.

Jenson also looked comfortable. I feel he could have gone faster. If this is the case, Hamilton will have to believe what he politely said of Button during the winter.


Hmz. Strange though - Alonso is really worse at managing his tires even though he had to climb from P22?


I am talking of actually being there (between turns 15 and 16) and noticing how the drivers were performing.

Alonso's back end came loose more than once.

Button looked stable and probably was managing his tyres as soon as Vettel was out (who by the way Looked glued to the track).

Karun Chandhok was painfully slow, just as Schumacher and De La Rosa were on a different level.

Steve of Cornubia

As much as it pains me to say so, because I am enjoying the fairy tale that is Lewis Hamilton's career (and the excitement he brings), I have long believed that Lewis has one crucial flaw that, perhaps, could be blamed on his father and Ron Dennis.

I believe that Anthony and Ron have so controlled Lewis's career and life thus far that Lewis lacks a certain degree of intelligence and maturity, that which most of us learn through making our own decisions and enjoying (or suffering) the consequences. While undoubtedly having many attributes as a driver and fighter, Lewis lacks the ablity to drive AND THINK CLEARLY at the same time, in the way that Senna, Schumacher and Alonso can.

I believe that Lewis needs guidance, but that he now wants to be his own man, and this could be his downfall. It can't be easy, having won the WC, to accept that you still need help, but he surely does.


I'm not utterly convinced Alonso belongs in the "thinking things through clearly" club. He suffers greatly from the belief that everything is about him in each team (good article by Mark Hughes on the BBC site), as the toys piled next to the pram shows.

My pet hate is his approach to driving through the first corner of a GP. He'll often assume that he can sweep from outside edge through to inner apex with impunity, despite the fact that there's someone on his inside edge - which isn't a surprise when the cars start in 2 columns.

There's a fine line between an aggressive approach to convince others to back off, and just plain ignoring them. Alonso falls on the wrong side of this line often enough to question his judgement on it.


@ MikeW - I agree - & I think he thought Button would jump out the way like Massa did - fortunately Button is made of sterner stuff, no doubt Alonso will compute the marker Button put down and in the future and steer well clear 🙂


Yes at turn 1 but Massa "jinked" right a little at the quickly following turn 2 and gave Alonso sufficient room to finish the move.


...like Massa did? When? At Bahrain, when Alonso drove clean around the outside of him?


Lets not haste to rule Lewis as one with lower brain capacity. Look at facts. He said he should have stayed out and not pitted. His boss says in hindsight he was right. Forget that part of him loosing it - the fact is he was right, McLaren were not. How does that make him less intelligent and mature?

Yes he already has guidance - from the team. And see where it has gotten him so far? Last it year it was his bosses who told him to stick with a lie in Melbourne: Shanghai 2007 it was his bosses who told him to stay on the track even as it was evident for all to see that the team was making a stupid gamble: my point is guidance is the problem. McLaren should start tapping into Hamilton's growing experience. They should be willing to take risks with his calls. If they keep sidelining them and playing this crisis management PR gamemanship that is designed to make him look stupid and tantrumy, he should get on the phone with Mercedes or Redbull and negotiate a drive for 2011. He is a WDC for crying out loud. He should move before McLaren turn him into a has been champion the way BAR did with JV.


"McLaren should start tapping into Hamilton’s growing experience. They should be willing to take risks with his calls."

While I'm far from a McLaren fan, if he's not making the calls they can't take risks with them. I suspect that may be the problem, rather than them 'overruling' his opinion.


@CH1UNDA: Do you have any sources to back that up, or are you merely speculating?


@tomjol - he has been making the calls and being overruled by McLaren re: british gp 2009

Steve of Cornubia

I think the point is, Button made his own call whereas Hamilton waited for his team to make the call. There is no doubt in my mind that Senna, Schumacher, Alonso and some other drivers with more confidence and stature in the team would have either made their own call or refused to pit if they thought the call was a bad one.

The fact that McLaren appeared to be managing Hamilton's strategy for him suggests that they too have little faith in Lewis's ability to develop race strategy 'on the fly'. Who knows, maybe if Hamilton wass allowed to run his own strategy he might get better results, but I'm not sure.


my point is you never know until you make a habit of allowing him to make those calls


If your race engineer tells you to bin it so a safety car comes out and your teammate wins do you do it or tell him to slag off?


Add Button to the list of drivers with the ability to allocate some brain power to "work things out" whilst still driving at 100% if neccessary - although Button did say he drove well within himself and the car's pace today - playing the long game & nicely saving engine and gearbox for a later race which this season again could work out to be a very shrewd move !


yeah i agree with you. At least from now on he can take more responsibility for the decisions taken. he has matured as a driver last year, lets hope that he matures as a thinker this year


Great article James. Put into words exactly what I'd been thinking since the race. What's going to be really interesting is how Hamilton reacts next weekend.


I heartily agree. A great piece James. I think this is one of the best articles I have read this season. Thank you.


What part of this article is great?

Button/Alonso leading the team from the cockpit? Absolute nonsense. Drivers are employed to drive 'leave the strategy to us Lewis' remember that?

What happened here was that it was early enough in the race for Button to be allowed to make a tactical decision, late in the race the team made a strategic decision with regard Hamilton.

To repeat drivers don't make strategic decisions whether at Mclaren or any other team, their imput is tactical only. Sorry James, Button isn't the master of the universe and Hamilton isn't an immature schoolboy, it was merely circumstance that determined who got to make a tactical judgement and who was subject to strategy.


Tom Johnson - the content of the story is largely irrelevant. I was commenting on the way it was written. Perhaps I didn't make it clear, but you have flown off the handle too quickly.


I think you're right Tom. I just had another look at the first seven laps. Button started fourth, at the end of the first corner melee he was sixth, only just, from his teammate who started eleventh. Five laps later, his teammate took the position he hadn't been able to improve on, in a car with the same specification. Look at it as a logical problem, if your teammate is faster than you on the same spec, your only hope of bettering him is to change the spec. Jensen's timing was logical. Good fortune compounded the benefit of his decisiveness, which I applaud along with his great drive.


What planet are you from Tom Johnson?

Race car driver's are not robots, try watching pre\post race interviews and reading well informed articles from people who know what they're talking about before you let this kind of drivel pour forth or maybe you're confusing real life F1 with the PlayStation where the AI drivers are robots...


Nicely written James. Hamilton provided much entertainment with his aggressive approach today. He is a fine driver, albeit a tad unpolished at this stage of his career. Button seems to have tapped into a whole new level of confidence this year. One characterized by patience, persistence, and taking the long view in most situations. Another fine drive from Alonso as well. It's curious that his drive from the back of the pack didn't get nearly as much attention as Lewis. Any thoughts on that?


It was a good "save" by Alonso. From P22 to P4 by staying calm and making it happen. The drive of a champion.


Alonso made some good passes in the rear- and middle-order, but for the front-runners, he mostly benefitted from their decisions to pit a second time.

As you say, a good "save", but the fact he had to go from P22 to P4 was because he'd originally gone from P4 to P22. Imagine where he'd have got to if he hadn't turned in on Button, and was still somewhere around P4 in turn 2!

That kind of cock-up detracts from considering this as a good drive.


I find it funny that most posters now decide to critize Lewis Hamilton for not making an in race decision, when only a year ago at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton questioned the team regarding saving the engine for another race would benefit the TEAM. He was advised to stay out. Many comments from that race advised Lewis to shut up and drive the car. Not being paid to think. Now that he follows his teams advice, something that bodes well for him and team in success, comes back at Lewis for not being mature enough to make decisions on his own. The guy is a brilliant driver, whether you like his personality or not. I make not like Alonso's attitude sometimes, however he makes up in spades with his brilliant drives. Let stop with this unsupported argument that proves nothing. Let's watch and enjoy what could be the most exciting season for a while.


@tomjol - not vendetta. as you have mentioned you are not a McLaren nor Lewis fan. I am of both (plus vettel, filipe, barichello, toyota - rip) and watch them a lot more and have seen things in the past that you would not be interested in. But i have to admit that in my case, the jury is still out on Whitmarsh - but certainly not the vendetta type jury.


"In my opinion McLaren are playing bad politics and bad management at the same time. They have to show consistency of what they want from Lewis. If its compliance they should take blame for their mistakes."

They did take the blame. Whitmarsh clearly stated that they thought it was the right decision at the time, but clearly in the long run it wasn't as the cars ahead didn't pit. If that's not 'taking the blame', I'm not sure what is - what more do you want?

I've not spent much time on this blog, neither do I care much for McLaren, but you do seem to have rather a vendetta against them.


Thank you so much Komieko. I was starting to think i was the only one remembering that incident from Silverstone last year. I made references to it elsewhere but could not recall exactly what race it was. In my opinion McLaren are playing bad politics and bad management at the same time. They have to show consistency of what they want from Lewis. If its compliance they should take blame for their mistakes. If its leadership they should take the risks that will come with Lewis making the calls. But playing with a brilliant driver's emotions the way they are doing is not going to help them much - he is still young and has WDC on his CV: i can see lots of good teams with deep pockets that can take him in 2011. Then lets see how much use a lesser rated pairing of drivers would do to McLaren's road car project. That 4000 cars per year for the MP4-12C depends on sinsillating performances at F1 races not surviness at managerial politiking (there is very little of the former and plenty of the later to go round). McLaren seem to have forgotten how long they stayed without a championship trophy until Lewis came along.


I rekon (hope) Alonso will win the championship in his debut Ferrari year... so long as Vettel's car keeps conking out and Massa can be tamed... but I wouldnt bet on the latter... Massa is only just getting warmed up!

That said, I have never seen him do a p.22 to 4th!

Shout out to Mark Webber for my mate who is a massive fan!


Everybody remembers Kimi winning the Suzuka GP in 2005 after starting from the last spot, but many forget that in the same race Alonso drove from 16th to 3rd. Not quite from 22nd to 4th, but quite comparable anyway.



What are your thoughts on Schumacher, he seems to be taking a bit of a pasting but nobody is mentioning that a) he had to make an extra pit stop thanks to Alonso, b) he posted the 4th fastest time during the race c) on his final pitstop he was held in a que behind Rosberg.

Also, the commentators on Speed (I'm US based) mentioned that he qualified on the harder compound tyre, hence the 4/10ths difference to Rosberg in Q3. I can't find any mention of this anywhere, is it true?


Hi James,

Is it possible to write an article on Alonso?





That is the politic that Alonso's now playing. He's really smart. He's confident that Massa is not his main competitor. Instead of grabbing just a few point from Massa, it's better for him to have a full support from Ferrari and tifosi that he's someone different than what he had been protrayed in Media (British media mainly).


An article on Lewis is always an article on Alonso. Just take what a journalist says about Lewis then read the opposite and plug in the name Alonso where Lewis is and bingo.

Romeo ( MEX in USA)

Yes. Please do. The way he made the move from the back of the grid was a real show of his quality. In Gazzeta the Tifossi are upset with Massa being slower and not allowing him to pass.


If somebody at Mclaren has to win I would rather it be Button. Like Prost and Senna, his and Lewis' driving styles split opinions, and whilst under-rated in some quarters over the course of a season I still expect Lewis to be the main title challenger from Mclaren. Whilst it seems Button is relaxed and has settled in well, I envisage him having more off days than Lewis...although oz qualifying suggests otherwise, Lewis is usually able to extract that little bit more from under performing cars.

Completely agree timem1/James - Alonso did not get enough credit. Last on lap 1, 10th by lap 13, 7th and on the back of Lewis and Massa by lap 18. Bringing the car home from the back of the grid, with decent points and when Ferrari haven't got the quickest car, definitely solid foundations for a championship push. In my eyes he is the best all-round driver on the grid and yesterday displayed so many elements of his armoury - Red Bull and Mclaren should be worried.


Anybody who thought Alonso had it easy should have been watchin the in car camera. I watched alonso for at least 10 laps and he made some excellent passing moves all missed by the main program. He hung it out all race. Excellent article



My opinion, so don't pan me too much... 😉

A lot of people fell off the road in front of Alonso (Kobayashi, Hulk and Buemi lap one - Petrov on lap ten, Sutil vanished at the same time with mechanical issues; Senna just before that), so his job was made far easier... plus the safety car meant the pack backed up, reducing his time losses. And let's face it, the 2 Hispania's and 1 Lotus are hardly going to hold him back.

Vettel went kaput, which moved him up a place. Webber lost out to the Ferrari's because his team messed up the strategy and\or he didn't make the call to come in earlier. Plus, Lewis got held up in his box, which meant he returned to the track behind them after the first stop. Rosberg pitted twice which put him behind both Ferrari's too, after his 2nd stop.

I still think Alonso had a good drive, but it wasn't that great - I would have liked him to get past Massa - the important point for me, is that Alonso knows the way to play the long game in the championship when he has a competitive car.


I agree, It's performances like that on bad days that win Championships. To finish in the wheel tracks of your team mate in the same car from dead last surprised even me, how will Massa respond? He might have been 3rd but he didn't look happy.

James I wanted to ask, why was it that in the first phase of the track being dry (lap 10 onwards) we had plenty of overtaking? But from about lap 40 onwards it became virtually impossible to overtake? The aero performance of the cars was the same in that first dry phase as the last phase of the race, when Hamilton got stuck behind Kubica and even then on fresh tyres made little impression on Alonso?


Tomjol - I never mentioned 'wet track speeds'. I'm talking of the period of the race when all the cars were on drys.

If the car is on dry tyres because they are faster as of lap 10 when Button started going quicker than those on the inters, then technically the track can be considered dry because you can pick up enough grip to make the tyres work. If you don't have as much mechanical grip at this point as there was at the end of the race then the aero isn't going to be as effective anyway. If the tyres are harder and reflect the grip levels in that early dry period of the race then aero isn't the problem.

So there's quite a wide gap there in as you said 'dry track speeds' As I said before that 1st phase lap 10 onwards, an overtaking frenzy. Then lap 40 onwards, Hamilton couldn't pass Kubica and got stuck behind Alonso for 8 laps.


"The aero performance of the cars was the same in that first dry phase as the last phase of the race"

Herein lies the problem with your argument. Aerodynamics don't work like that - a wing standing still generates no downforce, and generates no turbulence. A wing travelling through the air at 'dry track' speeds creates a lot more downforce, and a lot more turbulence, than one travelling at 'wet track' speeds.


Hamilton was going to nail Alonso before Webber crashed into him - lets not forget that part


I think it likely has something to do with the fact that as the track grew drier, the performance of the cars and their ability to reach 100% of their potential increased - i.e. braking distances became shorter, drivers were making less mistakes and losing traction existing corners (in a relative sense to wet conditions since obviously their tyres were worse). So there was less potential to out-brake something in my opinion. And also as the track dried, lap times decreased, so the cars were travelling faster, meaning the wake from the cars was more intense, thus making it harder to stay close and overtake.


Please James, I would like to know your technically informed opinion on my above comment, you're the man who's there at the track, with the answers. Why was there more overtaking on the initially dry track, lap 10 onwards, but after lap 40 it became virtually impossible to overtake?


Massa looked perfectly happy to me, indeed he said as much after the race.

I don't think he'll care that Alonso was quicker than him, given that Melbourne is a track he (Massa) historically has an abysmal record at, and that in qualifying Alonso was 0.7s faster. Under the circumstances, I'm sure he's delighted to have beaten Alonso in the race and picked up good points.

It won't be the same at Malaysia, which is a track Massa has taken pole at a couple of times. He has a much better record there so it should be much closer.


Not wanting to put words in James` mouth, but my guess would be that in the frist 10 laps or so after the rain the track would have been pretty "green" thus not penalising the guys going offline to overtake, whereas farther into the race the usual build up of marbles from the tire would have made an offline overtake more risky and harder to pull off due to lack of grip


There wasn't enough rain for that.


Agreed. Character does come into play now and then. Like Alonso, Button definitely had his own days of rubbish cars and bad luck. Hamilton can't learn it all over night.

johnpierre rivera

i believe this is what you mean by "the complete package." we always seem to forget that it is not about being the fastest, it is about being fast and intelligent, and alonso has it in spades.


So does Hamilton.In last years Aus GP he started at the back of the grid and finished fourth.

At the end of the season Alonso may well regret not trying a bit harder to pass his team-mate.

Hamilton and Webber showed how to do it!


Also he played politic better now by not attacking a 'lame-duck' Massa, and indeed helped him defense against Hamilton and Webber.


Massa is the only driver to have scored points cosecutively in last 7 races. He is no 'lame-duck'. Just a matter of time that he starts winning again. It's only 4 points between the leaders. You never know he might still well be the champion. If you are betting you might wanna put something on him than to get the maximum return


Massa is no 'lame-duck' he is very crafty this year. That 'RB Spring' almost killed him in Hungary GP09, but it seems it knocked more sense into him.

He never started a season well before this year. On account of that and the possibility a mistake would be attributed to that injury, he was not going to push real hard.

Not just yet!


Is he your favourite to win it James?


Most startling for me was the fact that Alonso was behind Schumacher at one point and Schumacher barely scrapped into 10th.

Rosberg (driving the same car) fared far better. Has Schumi lost his tenacity?


Comparing him to Rosberg - who wasn't taken out at the first corner, and didn't have to pit for a new front wing - is ludicrous.

Alonso was only behind Schumacher before Schumacher had to pit as mentioned above - and let us not forget that the Ferrari is clearly superior to the Mercedes.


James, You should read the juvenile rants the editors of that re-launched site pass off as 'informed observations' to their readers. Thanks and kudos for your astute and concise take on the situation at McLaren. - Two thumbs up!


What site are you talking about?


Alonso Button leading from the cockpit? Mythology James. Alonso at Mclaren was on record as doing what the team decide strategy wise. Button wasn't about to decide tyre choice all on his lonesome, he was invited to decide and took the gamble.


Yes Button made the call to come in early but only because LH had just passed him and his inters had gone off...a no brainer really.


Tom J, You just defined "leading from the cockpit." The driver shares info with his engineer, they work together to make the right call. You must be a Hamilton fan.


If you remember what Red Kravitz said you will know you are wrong. The question from the team was "how about slicks in 2-3 laps?". Jenson's reply was "I'm coming in now" - the pit crew were sitting in the back of the garage and did amazingly well to be ready in such a short time.


How you come to your conclusions re this race is beyond me James,almost with the same awestruck lack of objectivity you used to display during M Schumacher's winning era.Were we watching the same race James,I saw Lewis blitzing most of the field,Kubicka & Button were next in line for sure but for the advice of the TEAM you mention.Button admitted himself his intermediate's were gone requiring a pitstop that you seemingly put down to sublime talent,that incidentally only took ten years to reveal itself.Lewis gave F1 whats it missing for once through raw talent,not hyper boring measured perfection and instinctive tactical brilliance.@ Paul E-guess it depends on what side of the garage your backing whether you agree with that great piece from Pete Gill @ Planet F1 or not eh.


Bevan - thank you for the reminder: just wanted to note an emerging trend that everytime Lewis lights up races with exciting overtaking there always follows a huge media crisis against him - Spa 2008, Melbourne 2009, Melbourne 2010 and many more. What is with Hamilton's exciting races that always prompts journalists to criticise him even when they are mourning about how processional races are these days?


If you are implying that James is biased towards Jenson then you have not been reading James articles very long.

James is also a big fan of Lewis. All he is doing is putting forward a balanced article of the events of yesterday...


PF-1. Found their reactions to the race way over-the-top. Kinda like junk food - tasty but ultimately unhealthy....


Hah, PF1! What a joke. It's a shame they've got rid of that red header, rather made it fit in with the tabloid style of journalism (make wild assertions, attack individuals, back nothing up).


@HowardHughes - I too appreciate the insights, humor and passion in the PF1 editorials, but I felt Pete Gill's views on the McLaren situation at Oz really went over the top. I just needed to let James know I appreciated his sober and relevant take that gave the matter much more balance and clarity. ...BTW, what's 'PP'? 🙂


Funnily enough, I don't mind PF-1. Some of their news 'stories' are just reheated paragraphs, but their editorial shows a surprising amount of insight and passion. PP is one that purports to be more refined and 'in the know', but it's just so bitter and sarky half the time, I can't stand it. It's like the Daily Mail for F1; all judgemental and sarcastic....

PF-1 is bright and bouncy by comparison!


Most F1 fans will tell you PF-1 is the "Fox News" of F1 media....better avoided 🙂


Other than a few rare and infrequent articles, PF1 is a tabloid that takes any F1 happening as twists it up into sensationalist headlines. One example being their latest "Hamilton: McLaren wrecked drive of my life" :rolleyes:


I think that's a tad harsh on PF-1. I think there is room for F1 fans to concurrently read, and appreciate several sites, without the need to openly and wantonly favour some / criticise others in this way. Sometimes some sites get it spot on in terms of their analysis and / or opinions, sometimes they don't. I enjoy their partisan bias. I throughly enjoyed PF1's analysis and comment on the Australian GP, whilst I agree with James comments as above too (in fact refer to post #108 in the previous thread). I don't see JAF1 or PF1 as either / or websites. I one for one am grateful that they (co)exist.


I personally have found the comments of their editor staff awful for years. Little insider knowledge, and a lot of opinions that are no better than your average well informed fan. Add to that a forum that is not exactly civil or insightful, and you have a waste of a sight.

THey have faster news updates than James does, but that's about it.


The best part - PF! has resorted to quoting JA verbatim !


Thanks for that James. I've been reading a couple of other boards where the conspiracy theorists are out in force, insisting that McLaren deliberately sabotaged Lewis's race and handed Jenson the win! Between the people not accepting that Jenson chose his pit stop, and those saying he didn't deserve to win because he didn't pass anyone on track, I was starting to wonder if anyone watched the same race I did. It's a really hard call to say if Lewis could have got past Kubica and kept that first set of slicks going to the end of the race. I think he would have had to put in the stop at some point, those tyres were starting to look messy. Kubica was doing a hell of job defending his place against Lewis, and the BBC commentary team seemed to think the stop was a good move, and the initial progress Lewis was making on those new tyres looked pretty good.

I'm with you, Lewis didn't show himself in the best light with his comments during and after the race. I do wish people would stop belittling everything that JB does - goddess knows he's made plenty of his own mistakes in the past, but right now, he's doing a pretty fine job of being both a race driver and a WDC. I wonder what next weekend will bring.


Jenson passed Kubica when both were on the option slick tyres.

Kubica then shut the door on everone else.


Is this a race about who makes the best comments or who makes the best passes. I am starting to get confused by the F1 journalist community. Lewis gives us the best racing of the afternoon, but we throw all that down the toilet with one muttering on the radio! What has the world come to?


Ch1unda- it's not about either of those things- it's about who scores more points.


How can people even argue Button didn't call his own stop? it was plain for all to see.

I was watching the race live and at the same time I had the McLaren website open. During events their site gives you the GPS position of the cars, throttle movement, braking, distance etc..

One crucial thing is that it also gives a read out of the team radio. So you can see what is being said in near real time and certainly before the TV commentators.

Its a great resource if you're a McLaren fan.

I saw Button's radio transmission and was like "what the hell" then the TV pickup him going into the pits.


As I said - I was wondering if they were watching the same race I saw... But conspiracy theorists do tend to ignore anything that doesn't fit their own argument.

I didn't know the McLaren site streamed the radio transmissions - I'll check that out next race.


How to lose one of the great drivers from your team.

Martin Witless and his band of incompetents have plenty of form in screwing Hamilton's strategy. China 07 when as a novice he needed help, Brazil 07 and almost Brazil 08, Hockenheim 08 and now Melbourne.

Hamilton will grow up quickly this year and his next team will have a fantastic 'complete' driver. Witless and co are so desperate to show parity that they've distabilised their star driver: what else do you call tearing up the Hamilton/Prew partnership and substituting an incompetent junior?

Hamilton's misplaced unquestioning trust is ended, he's been let down one too many times, Hamilton was happy with his tyre ware, Kubica thought Christmas had come early and alonso found it unfathomable. Hamilton's 'team' didn't even consult the driver whereas Button' did. If that doesn't show a complete lack of respect nothing does.

Anyway, teams looking for a top notch driver get your bids in now, Hamilton's out of there.


And where would he go? Merc and Ferrari are definitely not for him, what with Schumacher and Alonso lying about. RBR could be a choice, if and when Webber retires, but if I were in RBR´s board I´d seriously ponder on the consequences of having two alfa´s in my yard.

Nah, forget it; Hamilton´s best movement is no movement; race, shut up and mature. Otherwise he might end up making the same mistakes that an illustrious ex- team mate of his made, and which have been so celebrated by British fans over the last three years.


schumacher cant hack another year in mercedes. there is a good team with a brilliant boss. if brawn made button win a wdc, imagine what he can do for lewis

Andy Thomlinson

And which team would you suggest he should join?

Name any of the top teams and I will show you an example of how a bad call from the pit wall that has ruined their drivers race!


mercedes definitely; red bull may be.

Andy Thomlinson

Tom he also won his WDC in a Mclaren!

All the teams make judgement calls that look foolish with benefit of hindsight just look at Ferrari with their wet tyres on a bone dry track!


Mclaren incompetence cost Hamilton a WDC for goodness sake.


"Hamilton’s misplaced unquestioning trust is ended, he’s been let down one too many times, Hamilton was happy with his tyre ware"

I agree the team have let him down quite a few times and he has let them down on occasion too. It's easy to focus on one element and not the whole.

BTW, I distinctly remember Hamilton was on the radio when he was stuck behind Kubica in 3rd and he said "my tyres have gone". So no, he wasn't happy with his tyre wear. Do I think he could have done 20 more laps on them and overtake Kubica? Not very likely. If he had been sensible he would have stayed out and took the 3rd.

Just shows you how badly he wants to win I guess and this is where his engineer should have told him to back off imo. 3rd is better than his eventual 6th.


ok, now take a deep breath 🙂


No, I'm sorry but saying they 'didn't even consult the driver' and that it shows no respect is rubbish. If they didn't consult him AND HAMILTON DIDN'T QUESTION THE CALL then that's established operating procedure for Lewis. If that's the case then frankly he's not doing a good enough job in the cockpit and needs to improve that part of his game very quickly because if you rely on people sitting on the pitwall to make a call for you then sooner or later you're going to have a situation like this. Final decision should always rest with the driver to say 'hang on a sec guys, I really don't feel this is the right option'. Lewis didn't do that, ergo the ultimate 'blame' (if there's blame to give which I don't think there is considering the circumstances in which they had to make the call) lies with the driver not the team. Now if they'd consulted him and he'd said no and they'd pulled him in anyway THEN he's got a cause for complaint.

Let's not forget Lewis has a history of being hard on tires (china 07 for instance...) and yesterday he showed he may not be the best judge of tire wear and mechanical issues with his memorable 'the tires have gone off' radio call which a) was probably wrong, it's the turbulent air off the back of the Ferrari that caused that, and b) was one of the stupidest things I've seen an experienced F1 driver do as it alerted Red Bull to an opportunity.


steve, lewis did precisely what you suggest last year and was told to shut up and drive. the team told him he was not paid to make strategy calls. revisit your pvr for details


But that's how Mclaren operate just ask Alonso, he did as he was told too. In fact the idea that the modern driver is the master of all he surveys is total fiction. That Hamilton made mild criticism of the 'team' is a shock to this sanitised corporate world. Button was given a choice within very strict parameters, it had nothing to do with being an inspired individual, a Montgomery leading his troops to victory - that's BS plain and simple.

Hamilton will toughen up be less trusting and more willing to dump Mclaren eventually. But the idea that he's a boy amongst masters of the universe Button and Alonso is laughable.



if Hamilton left after once bad strategy call he wouldn't be the driver I think he is.

If you want some balance, and I'm sure lewis appreciates this, ron dennis and mclaren put him in one of the best cars on the grid with a lot of gamble. So let's not forget that.

It is fine for him to be unhappy and go off on one behind closed doors. The issue is doing it in public. I'm confident he will learn and fulfil the potential he has to be wdc a number of times more.

Greg from Easton pa usa

While Hamilton has a natural talent, he suffers from one major flaw that will prevent him from becoming a great driver: a sense of entitlement. From the first article I read about him, even before he turned a wheel in an F1 car, he was billed as Ron Dennis' protege who was groomed to be a champion. His preferential treatment at Mclaren along side established drivers the likes of Raikkonen and Alonso fed into this. His championship year came in a season where Hamilton's win came by a single point and was the result of a lacking performance by Massa and Raikkonen and a last minute pass to get the winning point. Button had a period in his career (about the time he came out with his extensive clothing line) where the overwhelming press coverage inflated his ego. In the past few seasons he has matured greatly, and his hard fought championship last year shows what a mature driver can accomplish in the midst of superior competition. Hamilton's outburst on the team radio shows his frame of mind- the team prevented him from winning. However, given his propensity of shredding tires, they had little choice bit to bring him in for tires. His breathtaking passes came at the expense of his tires and, had he paced himself, he could have finished on the podium. Hopefully he will learn from his team and teammate that he is not entitled to...the title. The competiton this season is too great for a repeat of 2008.


Not forgetting that he was a champion with radio control(!) cars, the karting career in which he repaid his father's confidence and investment by winning against other drivers with comparable equipment, and the progression through junior championships to F1, with which he repaid his father's, and Ron Dennis's, confidence and investment - by winning against other drivers with comparable equipment. If he feels entitled, it's probably because he feels he's earned it. Do you suggest that it's a flaw because, if he does feel entitled, it's not earned, that he just shouldn't feel entitled, or that a feeling of entitlement weighs so heavily it slows you down?


boris becker once said, if i could change something in my career, would be not to win winbledon so young.

Greg from Easton pa usa

I will remember that quote. It applies to many aspects of life. Knowing what to do with fame, fortune and success has been a problem for many young people from athletes to musicians to actors. I wish I had a little bit of that problem to deal with in my youth!


Couldn't agree more. Excellent win for Button, pure class. Superb, agressive and audacious race for Lewis but crude and tactless comments about the team during and after the race.

However, the race clearly demonstrated both the Mclaren drivers comparative strenghs and in Lewis's case his weaknesses. He was driving live a god today only to act like a spoilt child after the race.

Also, who is the Guy in the Number 3 Mercedes pretending to be Schumacher?


And who's the guy in Number 4 pretending to be Nick Heidfeld...


Hahaha. Good one. 🙂

But Nick Heidfeld would have finished on podium. 😉


"Also, who is the Guy in the Number 3 Mercedes pretending to be Schumacher?"

It's Ralf.


It was the Stig. Everyone knows Schumacher has a neck injury. 🙂

Schumi definetely looked like a shadow of his former self. Spending the majority of the race behind Alguersuari seemed a bit of a joke.


I completely agree with the whole 'Hamilton being dependant on his team' thing. Personally, i found it frustrating to hear his critical comments in the heat of the race - the sheer contrast between the two Mclaren drivers' attitudes this weekend was staggering!

Today i believe we saw blips of the 2007 Lewis; if he wants a convincing WDC, he needs to take control of the team and apply the maturity he's usually known for off the track, on it.


The reason we saw a bit of 2007 Lewis was quite simple in my estimation. He was being beaten! Heikki never comprihensivley did that.

Its just Lewis trying to rationalise why he was beaten as, after all, it can't have been him, can it?!? This is how most F1 drivers react.

Hence its better to blame the team for the "error" rather than to acknowledge his tyres were looking awful (even on TV we could see it).


He wasn't just beaten in the race, Out
of the 2 jenson set the faster lap time in more of the practice and quali sessions throughout the weekend. Lewis this weekend was comprehensively beaten by his team mate and just couldn't understand it.


And yet in the race Lewis over took Button on the track, something I doubt we will see Button do to Lewis this year.


it's like 2007, just the other way around.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Lewis needs a manager NOW. Julian Jakobi, could you please step forward and help him out before he becomes his own worst enemy.

However, what drive from Hamilton. The way in which he dealt with Button, Massa, and Rosberg shows that he is in a different class when it comes to overtaking..

Webber, the eternal whinger and "standard setter" for the rest of the grid behaved like a twit today. He does not have the overtaking thing sorted out despite something like 9 seasons in F1.


webber just lacks spare mental capacity, when he is on the limit of the car.


I don't think anyone has the 'overtaking thing sorted out' - Alonso breezed up to Massa who was stuck behind Kubica and there they stayed for 20 odd laps.


I believe Voyager, that Mike is alluding to Webber thinking he was in a bumper car and he could simply nerf people out of the way... what was it Webber called the young 'uns in Japan, when Vettel hit him?

Webber didn't have a good race at all - maybe he feels (with his contract up, end of season), that that was his last chance for a home win. Ok, he made some passes, but for the majority of those (im(h)o), he was taking advantage of the move Hamilton had made in front of him.

Red Bull have made noises about learning from their past mistakes... I'm not so sure.


Whilst I agree with the overall thrust of James's piece, I think what unfolded on Sunday was more down to luck than many are giving credit for. Jenson had the good fortune for once to get his tyres working and qualify forth. He also benefited from his (inspired) gamble to switch early to drys and Red Bull's unreliability. Lewis in contrast had the weight of the world on his shoulders on Saturday and his team's tyre call could have worked wonders if the Bridgestone’s had fallen apart in the later stages.

Above all though what we shouldn't overlook is that Hamilton delivered one of the most exciting drives of the modern era; at least six top draw overtakes (none of his rivals even came close to matching that). He definitely still has a lot of maturing to do but in the meantime he's delivering excitement in spades.


making tyres working for qualy AND making a good lap, doesnt come from fortune at all.


Different class? People are praising Lewis for overtaking and he was brilliant. I do not like him....meaning do not support him, but I can't imagine F1 without him! He is one of the best. For me the most impressive drive came from Alonso.....


Yes his overtaking was as good as Button's in Brazil last year.


I'm sorry to say this, but i am convinced that hamilton will never go down in history as one of the great drivers. James, you are right, Hamilton is not a leader. Leadership skill is very important in racing. Apart from his total lack of leadership skill, Lewis lacks people skill, he blames everyone else but himself. This will make him unpopular within his team. In this race we see the difference between him and kimi, when ferrari in the past cocked up kimi's strategy all kimi said is that we win as a team and we lose as a team. That attitude is not in the blood of lewis and f1 is a team sport.


I was under the impression results are the measure of a great driver.

Far too much is being made of Hamilton's frustrations. It happens all the time, yet we never hear it on the radio if it's a Force India driver complaining.

People need to get some perspective. This is a non-story.


Amen to that...


Results are not the be all and end all in determining the talent of the driver, otherwise every person would unanimously agree that schumacher is the greatest f1 driver of all time and that jaques villenueve was better than his dad gilles villenuve. Anyways, if hamilton was any good then he would have been able to asses the situation and chose to stay out till the end. When he decided to come in as the team tolsdhim too, he should not blame them for the results. His act of pitting means he agreed with the team. Mind you button made the decision to pit and won the race because of his decision. Hamilton does not have this kind of leadership, he is dependent on others.


Difference: McLaren gave Button a choice and gave Lewis an order. There is a world of difference between those two.


"If Hamilton was any good"

I stopped reading any further after that. Sorry!


Well said - Kimi was (is) always dignified in defeat and doesn't throw blame around - even when as now seems to have been the case last year (Badoer Fisichella) the car was extremely difficult to drive. Hurry back soon Kimi!!


Look where it got Kimi - booted out of the most exciting motor sport on the planet by the biggest player in the business. Tells you Kimi's way did NOT work because it was NOT the right way.


Hamilton is currently the youngest WC, and had a formula one start like NO ONE before him, won the title in his second year and drove the way fans like drives to drive even if the same fans are the 1rst to criticizes him after the race no matter what. I can't help but wonder based on what you're ready to call a driver great.

Remove Hamilton from Sunday' GP it's safe to say the race wouldn't be as exciting as it was. Button made no pass and wasn't even catching Vettel, if that's the show we all wanted then I urge fans not to delete the Bahrain GP from their PVRs.


being an exciting driver and a good driver are entirely different things. I never said that hamilton was not an exciting driver. My point is it is not raw speed alone that makes one a good driver, among other things a driver must have the capability of making intelligent decisions, a talent which hamilton does not have on or off the racetrack. I also notice that hamilton only admits mistakes only when there is no other person to blame, but if there is, he blames. He even got an old loyal employee of mclaren fired for his misdeed of lying to the stewards. He admitted fault while blaming someone else. Mclaren should have fired him too as he was at the very least as guilty as the one who got fired. Anyways, time will tell....


Reminder: The unintelligent decision on sunday was made by the team not Lewis. Lets not get mixed up. I agree that your advice to McLaren to fire Lewis in 2009 would have been the intelligent decision. But as i just pointed out, McLaren have issues with making intelligent decisions.


He actually does blame himself a lot....it's just that people with a grudge against him choose not to take it in, and still use it to attack him.


Totally disagree. As for Kimi, he gives up much sooner, remember the pictures of him in shorts last season?

I think Hamilton has already achieved more than Kimi, he is much more consistent and he has so much more to give. It is early days in his career and I think he will go down as one of the best drivers.

Every driver brings their own unique package to the sport, they all have vulnerabilities and just like everyone on the planet they grow emotionally over time.

For Hamilton to have come back so well from all that bullswit last year showed maturity.

This is an early season blip, he showed his emotion but still remained cool, next week all will be forgiven and he will be back in top form.


I can remember lots of times when Hamilton has screwed up & apologised to his team for it - so a bit harsh to say he never blames himself?

We are a fickle audience!


I dont agree with you, as James said he is in a learning curve now, as he learnt so many things from bad experiences, he will learn such things too. He was just huge disappointed to finish 6th in a race where his teammate won. Yes, Kimi was saying "we win and lose as a team" but Kimi did not support team success with his efforts like Lewis did.

Meanwhile, I am a great Ferrari fan, not Mclaren.


Excellent point re Kimi. I cringed when I heard LH's comments. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, or if the tire gamble had paid off and his race came up roses. Time will tell, but I cannot help but think LH would do better with his father/support group that was once there. Not to mention a manager/coach. Looks like a youngster 'going his own way'---with its attendant risks/rewards.


As far as I can tell, McLaren's strategic calls in the latter part of the race were solid - based on the following arguments:

* Jenson had to keep running as long as there was a chance that Kubica, Alonso or Massa could make it to the end of the race.

* If none of Button, Kubica, Alonso or Massa could make it to the end of the race (puncture risk, for example), Hamilton's position after stopping for fresh rubber earlier would have left him leading the race.

* Additionally, a safety car at any time during the last part of the race would have handed the advantage to anyone on fresh tyres - they would immediately be up with the guys on worn tyres *without* having trashed their tyres while chasing. If this scenario had occurred, Hamilton would have been well placed to attack Alonso with much fresher tyres than he had in the actual race.

Of course the call was 'incorrect' with hindsight. But I think that it was correct when trying to cover all possible scenarios as best as possible. Reminds me of Barrichello's fury at the 3-stop strategy he was left of to cover all bases early last year (I forget which race).


The sad thing about Lewis is that everybody including his team expect him to overtake everybody all the time. He got held up by Kubica and suddenly there was something odd about it and the team panicked (what about Alonso by Massa). With patience Lewis would have passed Kubica without a doubt.....but nobody expects Lewis to be patient which is a shame. As far as ranting is concerned all the driver rant we just don't hear many of them complaining but we will always be forced to listen to Lewis so another news article can be written to make a story for the whole season.

Button wasn't brilliant he was just lucky and should have admitted to it to the press - even he doubted his own strategy how can everybody be praising him all of the sudden. I don't buy this myth about him having nothing to lose, every champion fears losing.....others just fear it more than others. Button definitely fears Lewis on the track after Sunday's race, he won't get lucky all the time.

Lewis will bounce back if he chooses to forget the Aussie GP but learn from it. Button will help Mclaren win the constructors championship which is what he is there for. Lewis will destroy him on the track as long as the team moves away from this myth about Lewis chewing up his tyres a lot more, it definitely wasn't the case on Sunday before he pitted.

The best thing Lewis can do from now is to learn when to overrule team decisions, and when to accept them. If he masters that well he will a be great in F1 terms.


Yes. Your right. the covering of a possible safety car is an important thing to note. It's important to note the state of Hamilton's tyres when he pitted too. Luckily for McLaren they have that set and can analyse them to find out if they were right or wrong. Unfortunately we will never find out the result of that analysis. I bet Hamilton is going to find it out though! 🙂


Well thought!! That's exactly what happened in my opinion! Button and the others took a BIG risk considering the nature of this particular track where safety cars can always be deployed at any time! Having this in mind, however, Lewis should never complain to the team. They made the correct choice. It just didn't come their way!


I'm not sure about this. Lewis certainly thinks it was the wrong call.

I read elsewhere that Alonso said the simulation showed a second stop was not the way to go, track position was more important.

This situation reminds me of Senna's last race for McLaren (Albert Park, I believe). In the last third of the race the team came on the radio to ask him to pit for new tires and he refused to. He said the tires were still good and he would keep going. He won the race.

If Lewis is not happy with the team's calls he should make his own, like the big boys.


Exactly. It was the correct decision. At the time no one knew for certain the tyres would last; only one driver can win the race - the strategy guarranteed it would be a McLaren.

However, I feel it is unfair to criticise Hamilton for the comments made over the radio - for a start we get a director's highlights and it is only something that has been added in the last few years. I am sure that in the past drivers were even more vocal when they felt let down like Hamilton did.

Even at the end of the race, his comments were rather restrained considering he has just stepped out of the car and would have still been pumped up with adrenaline. He didn't criticise the team like Barichello did in Germany last year - he just criticised the decision - which given the fact that McLaren has one of the biggest (if not the biggest) mission control set ups, from his perspective it would seen strange that they would get it so wrong.


Absolutely spot on.

I thought and still think McLaren made the decision for the team, not the driver - which is how it should be.

By splitting strategies they were the only team on that track in a position to pick up the win no matter which way the wind blew.

Ferrari had both eggs in the same basket and Renault only had on egg in the first place.

For me it was a great tactical call by the team and I have no doubt that if the positions had been reversed they'd have asked Jenson to come in. The only difference is that after the race Jenson would have given us his grin and said "I only got P6 but I had some fun on the way".

Clearly this stung Lewis and it's as much about Jenson picking up the first win as him only coming sixth, but it shows how much his balance is towards himself, not the team.

Great call by McLaren which suggests they've learned from the mistake in China 2007.


turns out Ferrari collected 37 points and McLaren collected only 33. cant see how the decision was best for the team with those kind of figures


Two other stars of the weekend that are being overshadowed by this story though;

Alonso - what a drive! Class and composure, like Button.

Martin Whitmarsh - how impressive was he on the BBC forum afterwards? McLaren is in safe hands and I have to say that with Brawn, Whitmarsh & Horner on the pit walls we're in for a decade of classy F1.


A little stunned by the classic Alonso drive the 6 back markers are atleast six secs slower than his ferrari so he was gonna pass them anyway, considering the fact that Massa struggled all through the race and kept him behind him I dont see what class you are talking about.


brilliant James!

very very good point S-D!


I totally agree. For the team this was the right strategic call. They had two cars well placed in the field, and it gave them the flexibility to cover two strategic options.

It played out in Jenson's favour. But as you point out, a safety car with 15 laps to go and we'd now be talking about what a great win Lewis had.

I'm a Lewis fan, but I was really disappointed with the toy tossing over the radio late in the race. It was the right strategy for the team and in the end Lewis took one for the team. He needs to grow up.


Great arguments S-D. You made my day as I really didn't think about the safety car aspect of things.

Thank you.


I think SC would have played in hands of the front runners (1stoppers) not those who had changed the tyres already. They would have gone for new tyres and came back to the track with fresh tyres giving them a big advantage after the restart.


Well said. For many reasons it was the right call but it just didn't work out.


"Reminds me of Barrichello’s fury at the 3-stop strategy he was left ON to cover all bases early last year (I forget which race)."


Barcelona I think.


Yes, this is the race I was thinking of.


I believe it was Monaco. Button changed his strategy to a two-stop during the race, and that granted him the victory.


All Brawn didn't need to do a three stopper that race though, they just needed to cover their rivals. Three stopping is an aggressive strategy. Barichello is not an aggressive driver.




S-D, Barrichello used 3 stops against Button's 2 in both Bahrain and Barcelona. Button won both races.

You're only as good as your last race. That has never been more true.

People are really hitting hard at Hamilton, goes to show how much they expect from him. Button had a fantastic race, but I expect things to turn the other way around already at Sepang. He just has to keep his nerves, there is a very long season ahead.


It was the Spanish GP.


Hasn't Hamilton learned from Alonso that publicly criticizing his own team is counterproductive? He owes his whole career to McLaren....


True. But to be fair the lad had been outstanding on the track and his teammate had a pretty huge helping of "luck" come his way. Understandably he was a bit miffed.

At the same time, while the truth of James's analysis is unquestionable, the important thing is whether LH will learn from this.


Both Jenson and Lewis drove great races. But saying Jenson was the calmer of the two is pointless. It's easy to be calm when you don't have an eventful race. Lewis had two major setbacks, neither in any way his fault, so we was entitled to be less than thrilled about it. If they were subjected to the same in the race people would have a point, but they werent. Anyone would be annoyed in the same situation.

There was no reason at all to bring Hamilton in. He was managing his tires fine. Looked guaranteed for a podium. Then his team made a glaring blunder. There was no way it was ever going to be the right decision and it was clear at the time it was made, not just in retrospect. Which is why Hamilton showed frustration at the time. Experience didn't have much to do with it. Rubens had been in a similar situation and got angry too, and he's one of the most experienced of all time.

These drivers put their heart and sole into this. They're just being human.

Yes Jenson made a good decision to come in. But Hamilton was managing his tires better when they were next to each other on the track and Jenson was being left for dead at the time. It was part desperation that he opted to pit early. But still brave and credit to him.

But as for what they achieved on the track, Lewis outshone Jenson. He had a better start and he overtook Jenson on the track. The rest was poor team management and another hot headed clumsy moment from Webber.


All of you make me laugh.

We are in the same situation as Mika and David here. You CAN NOT compare these 2 drivers. They are both different!!!! And 'cause they are different doesn't mean one of them is wrong!!!

Lewis has passion, tenasity, intuition, consistency, and he likes to express himself.

Yes, the whole world was hearing him, well, isn't what we want??! Isn't what we want to see and hear from a driver, as a human beings?!!!

Don't we all miss Jacques Villeneuve??!!

Therefore, stop critizising Lewis and accept him as he is . . . mature or not, he deserves to win and questioning when he doesn't!!!

Lewis an JB ARE different, accept that!!!


from what we know it was a team call for him to pit, and it did make some sense, but it didnt work out. not much more than that.

and if you where going to pit one of them, made sense for it to be hamilton.

and you hear worse on the radio on nascar, even from jj and knaus


And i forgot to mention . . . for those criticizing Lewis's mentors Anthony and Ron Dennis . . . where Lewis could it be without them?? Thanks to the their guidance is that Lewis is a World Champion so young!!! What was JB doing all these past TEN years??!!

So, do not put Lewis down because his past!!!
Do not forget how, where and when Lewis started his career!!!! 😛


Interesting perspective James. I think the difference is really highlighted by Hamilton's "Who's decision was it to pit me!?" quote. In contrast, Button won the race because of -his own- decision to pit. So surely Hamilton should be placing as much blame on himself as any engineers. If Button had the option to make his own strategy decisions, so did Hamilton. He could surely have said that he didn't think it was a good idea to pit at that time.

Personally I think he either wouldn't have been able to pass Kubica any time soon, or he would have destroyed his tires before the end of the race if he hadn't pitted anyway. In the final few laps, Lewis was complaining about graining, on tyres that had been used half as much as Jenson's!

It's an interesting dynamic developing at McLaren, and I'm glad to see Button showing his qualities when so many people had written him off before the season began. Ecclestone's comment about "Hamilton is simply quicker than Button" a few days ago may well be true, but that's not all there is to winning races and scoring points.


"In the final few laps, Lewis was complaining about graining, on tyres that had been used half as much as Jenson’s!"

Seriously??? How can you compare, Jenson had kubica providing a cushion so he could pace himself nicely. Lewis had to smash in 10+ quali style laps to hunt down Alonso! Of course the tyres wouldnt last long. The wouldnt have been much use in nursing them and getting to Alonso on on the last lap!

I can see Mclaren's and Lewis's side but it was a tough call. The radio comment was mostly down to shock after seemingly passing the whole grid and only being 5th!

For me you cant compare the races of each driver. Ignoring the lucky call by Button only because he burnt his inters and got passed by Lewis then my overview is:

I think Lewis could easily had driven Buttons race but I doubt we will ever see Button drive a race like Lewis did.


Excellent analysis, Mr. Allen.

There are people screaming their heads off, shouting conspiracy theories. There was no guarantee that Lewis would've caught and passed Jenson precisely because he is so much harder on tires. People forget that racing isn't all about raw speed. Strategy and tactical decisions also play a huge role, especially when everything is thrown into the mixer with inclement weather. Button showed maturity and decisiveness today that Lewis couldn't.


Give me a break.

Im no Hamilton fan, but why do we find the need to physco analyse every word from his mouth.

Hamilton and co are racing drivers. Hardly the most articulate bunch on the planet.

The drivers cant win with the media. F1 is blasted for being boring and lacking any characters, and then when someone does step of the party line they are nailed to a cross by the media and fans alike.

go figure.

Ill watch the racing and leave the gossip to the office girls.



One more and i finish . . . Remember the movie "Days of thunder"?! . . . if you don't, watch it again!! 😛


Nice article but I disagree with a couple of core topics, Button's leadership and Hamilton's dependency.

Consider the situational differences. Everyone was going to pit for slicks and the pack was close together when JB pitted it was just choosing the right moment (inspiration or luck? his tyres were shot after all, did he have a choice?), something many drivers have done in the past and the driver is in a better position to make that call in that situation.

In comparison Hamilton's only input into a decision to pit for a 2nd time is the condition of his tyres (bad communication?)and everything else is determined by the team because they have access to time gaps and so on. I think China was the team's decision as well so I would consider it trust in the team, not dependency.

I would argue that the events don't highlight Button's leadership or Hamilton's dependency but show Hamilton's lack of confidence to question decision's made by the team and highlight Button's believe in his decision making ability.


i couldnt have put it any better Ragerod...Consider the situational differences James!!!! Stopping for slicks on a damp track is a driver's decision coz he has the feel on what the track conditions are, whereas a strategy stop is mainly a team's call as they have better infor on whats happening i.e Mclaren made a good call in Brazil 09 on lewis...so why would he doubt them now if they tell him to stop?? Really dont know where your recent mountain of criticism/hate for lewis is coming from lately James.


Its quite amazing to read Hamilton's post race comment, did you count the number of times he used "I" and "my"? Clearly a selfless team player ... NOT. He might be a faster driver than Button, or even most of the field, but clearly he's in need of some coaching on how to be a human being..


Why don't you say what you really mean?


I meant EXACTLY what I said.


That's a shame, what an extreme reaction to a trivial event.

I am sure Lewis Hamilton would never question your humanity.


Great win by Button, but I still think Lewis's pace and driving skills will let him come out on top. I just really hope he doesn't end up complaining again when things don't go his way.


I can't agree less with the comments judging Lewis's "attitude". If I'd just raced my heart out the way he had only to be stumped by a bad strategic call, well, you know what, I'd probably be a tad miffed too, to put it politely. Especially knowing that bad team directives had cost me a championship before.

Regardless of who makes the calls the driver should be able to rely on the brain trust behind the pit wall.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to run down the one driver who, more than any other, made Melbourne one of the best F1 spectacles of recent times.


Great analysis James. Your blog is always a must after a race (and worth checking on a daily basis I might add).

Lewis comments on strategy at the end of the race echoed those of Monaco '07 when he showed his number 2 on the car.

Bearing in mind that his teammate is English and speaks the same language (both explicitly and implicitly), having such an attitude might be detrimental to him in the long term.

Alonso's English then was better than average but not of a native standard. That's what caught him out in end and put Hamilton on a pedestal with similar performance inside the car.

Communication and media skills go a long way in F1.


The old bull and the young bull...

Very impressed with JB's performance, although I can't help feeling even HE was a little surprised by the result.

Disappointing that Webber nor RedBull made the call to pit earlier, but it was great fun watching Lewis and Mark chase down Alonso, I think we all knew it would end in tears.

An amazing job from Fernando(and I'm a Ferrari fan who still has a little trouble with him)so this helps. I wanted Massa to win.

I think the podium was very telling,

The most experienced champion TEAMS.

Also James, Great work from you and Tom on OneHD.

Praying for rain in Sepang, not as much as last year, maybe just the last 15 laps.

Prisoner Monkeys

Unfortunately, I don’t think Jenson Button gets nearly enough credit as he deserves. Too many people have written him off simply because he’s partnering Hamilton. If both drivers had experienced the other race, Lewis Hamilton’s early stop would have been described as a tactical masterpiece, and Jenson Button’s second would have been foolishness and that he would have no-one to blame but himself. But as it stands, Jenson Button was apaprently lucky, while Hamlton was robbed by the team.

Lewis Hamilton may beat Jenson Button at the end of the season – but I’m willing to bet that if he does, the final result will be much closer than most people assume it will be.


Hamilton's juvenile whining and whingeing over the radio reminded me of some of the complaining that Juan Pablo Montoya did in his Williams days, which led to him being slapped back on one occasion in a race by the team.

The team needs to sit down and inform Lewis that you never ever throw your team under the bus in a public forum, and especially not in the middle of a race. If Lewis was driving for Roger Penske, Roger would have already torn him a new one, politely but unmistakably behind the scenes. All it does is to piss off the people that Lewis needs behind him to win a championship.

The difference between Lewis and his toy-throwing and Jenson and Fernando was stark today. Jenson and Fernando used their heads and brains, as a result Jenson won and Fernando collected a pile of points for fourth place, without getting frustrated and throwing the car off the road despite getting stuck behind his team-mate. Lewis drove brilliantly aggressively but wore out his tyres in the process and then had to whine publicly when he could not make any further progress. He needs to be told that he cannot expect to have the team behind him if his first response to issues is to point fingers.


...Hamilton... Montoya.

Right. What do both have in common? They're racers, aye? God bless 'em.

My daughter and I watch F1 to watch the racing, not 'driving'. We watch Top Gear for that.

Monster Montoya was always a treat to watch with his pugnacity; same with Lewis -nobody can deny he's an out and out racer.

So, James -who was your 'Racer of the day?' We know who ours was.

O/T You are missed, JA - Sergeant-Major Leggard makes me want to drink tabasco from a pint glass rather than have the sound turned up on telly.

Is it not?

Regards to all.


Great read James.

Lewis is certainly coming across as a spoilt brat after the Aus GP - he seems intent on blaming the individual "responsible" rather than just putting it down to a bad day at the office and learning from it.

Looking forward to hearing your insights throughout the season on ONE down under!

Greg from Easton pa, usa

While Hamilton has a natural talent, he suffers from one major flaw that will prevent him from becoming a great driver: a sense of entitlement. From the first article I read about him, even before he turned a wheel in an F1 car, he was billed as Ron Dennis' protege who was groomed to be a champion. His preferential treatment at Mclaren along side established drivers the likes of Raikkonen and Alonso fed into this. His championship year came in a season where Hamilton's win came by a single point and was the result of a lacking performance by Massa and Raikkonen and a last minute pass to get the winning point. Button had a point in his career (about the time he came out with his extensive clothing line) where the overwhelming press coverage inflated his ego. In the past few season he has matured greatly, and his hard fought championship last year shows what a mature driver can accomplish in the midst of superior competition. Hamilton's outburst on the team radio shows his frame of mind- the team prevented him from winning. However, given his propensity of shredding tires, they had little choice but to bring him in for tires. His breathtaking passes came at the expense of his tires and, had he paced himself, he could have finished on the podium. Hopefully he will learn from is team and teammate that he is not entitled to... the title. The competition this season is too great for a repeat of 2008.


James, I thought this was an incredibly harsh article. F1 is a team sport and if Hamilton is ever paired with the brilliance of Ross Brawn, he has the potential of achieving success of MSC proportions. He relied on the team for the strategic aspect and it didn’t work out today. Also, if you think about a race as a whole, Hamilton alone added about 40 percent of the excitement. F1 is much richer because he is here and I am grateful for that.

Also, Button is getting way too much credit for this win. The way I saw it is that Hamilton passed him on track and he thought to himself that his drive so far is not fitting for a world champion. So he decided to Pit rather than look silly and it worked out for him. The argument of the feel he has for when to go on slick tires is completely overblown. If you want to make this claim that this is due to his brilliance, then why didn’t MSC or Alonso think of it before he did? Is Button suddenly the best driver because he won one race?

My version of events is that Button got whooped by Hamilton on Track so rather than fading into Oblivion, he pitted out of desperation. But who cares about what I think, I don’t have a website. James I have a feeling you’ll be eating some of these words by the end of the season.


I agree with you on exactly why button pitted. Everyone glossing over the passing master class by Lewis and expecting him to protect his tyres. Jenson would have protected his tyres in that situation and limped home and the end of the points.

Also about the radio call. Put yourself if his position when you cant see how the race is going...he was just very surprised. He did some moaning last year on the radio in turkey but noone picked up on it....oh thats right we all have forgotten how well he got on with a bad car last year, very mature dedication shown and now lost on many.


+1000000000000...couldnt have put it any better!!!


Good call James.

Lewis should listen to what we all heard him say over the radio regarding the state of his tyres!!

His team responded and Lewis duly pitted.

He then questions who's call it was....??

Lewis, you are an amazing driver, so very exciting to watch and with brilliant car control, BUT stop blaming YOUR team!!

Button is all calm to your raging bull


James, marvellous comment and analysis, spot on. Nice to hear you doing the driver interviews after the race, too...I think it was you, anyway.

I loved Hamilton's drive but hated to hear his unfounded criticism of the team. He doesn't give the impression of being a great thinker. He complained that he couldn't pass Alonso because his second set of tyres were STF - so one could easily imagine that, if he had remained on his original set, they would have been down to the canvas and he wouldn't have been challenging anyone for a podium.


i agree, theres no way he would have made those tyres last the distance, the team gave him an agressive 2 stop startegy and he did an outstyanding job on abusing his tyres and gaining positions, but once the first set was gone, midway through the race, he had to pit for a fresh set or end up in a gravel on turn 13.


Some day, you gamble and win, some day you lose.

Isn't the praise for Jenson a bit too glowing James?

Rubens showed similar 'leadership' from the cockpit last year, didn't get much attention from the pundits.


I don't think you can "blame" Lewis for following his pit teams advice. If his pit crew advise him that his tyres aren't going to last then what can he do other than trust them? Even if they were wrong (and 'we' can't know that, perhaps 'they' can if post analysis has been done on the tyres) he at least had a fighting chance. If they were right and he ignored them then he had no chance, he'd have been lapping on slower tyres and still had to pit again.

I think it's sad news for us spectators though. The results of Webber and Lewis' attempts at 2 stopping will have more or less assured that we won't see any teams trying it as a general strategy so we'll be back to processions as everyone will be in the same boat.


however James....

"Track position is king."

lap 6 - Button was in P7

the teams, based on the forecast, were expecting rain for other 10 - 15 minutes.

Button comes into the pits for slicks -

my opinion is roulette, less leadership, with all due respect.

He comes out at the and of the pack, and... miracle... no rain... time for almost everybody to pit...

Button starts approaching "Luscious Liz", a lady that cheated on his master Vettel... Again.

What followed it's history.... one of the best races in years!


In a post race TV interview, Button said that the reason he pitted early is because his intermediates were shot. He added that as the circuit was drying it convinced him to pit for slicks.

Yeah, that Luscious Liz is a real bitch these days...


Button is saving tires... that's how he won the race... I don't buy this idea with him pitting because the tires were shot !?

He gambled and he got lucky.... less to non leadership for Button.

Hamilton fought until the end, followed teams instructions, but was very unlucky.... He got a lot of dirty air chasing and passing other cars, and his tires were in an obvious bad shape, but Button drove in clean air, watching the tv screens on the side of the track....


her master... 🙂

Crid-Los Angeles

James— Excellent post.

F1 blog-readers often say that bloggers should report but not editorialize. To whatever degree this is opinion and not straight factual reporting, I'm glad to have your insights about what yesterday's race meant.

(OK, maybe that's because I agree with every word!)

Seriously, the correlation between temperment and outcome in F1 is endlessly fascinating, and you've provided some new aspects to consider.


Interesting developments at McLaren and I do agree that Hamilton definitely needs to mature more and start making his own decisions. Having said so, my sense is that in general people are magnifying Button's win today. Was the decision to change tires really a brilliant one or just the only one left given his issues with the intermediates? Indeed, he is a more mature driver and is definitely a more centered guy and a likable one too, but unfortunately those are not necessarily must have qualities of a brilliant driver. The ability to win in any condition and with a challenged car are though, and that is where I think Button has always fallen short. Throughout his career he has only been able to win in "weird" races (like his first win in Hungary or yesterday's race) or whenever he has had a significantly faster car, beyond that he has been an "average" driver. I am not a Hamiton fan (and clearly not a Button fan either) I am a McLaren fan and I am really happy for today's win, but if you ask me who is going to be able to bring the team back to a winning streak against Alonso's Ferrari, Vettel's Red Bull and even Schumacher's Mercedes I would have to say Hamilton looks better suited for the fight than Button (that is if we can get him to cool off and make his own decisions).


Hi James,

I'm really curious to know based on what exactly you found Hamilton's conduct "less mature" in Sunday's race?

In Bahrain the world complained about the lack of show/overtaking, Hamilton did it and yet he's called immature for that? Personalty I see nothing wrong for a driver to "TRUST" his team with strategy because after all they're a team.

It's sad that some drivers never get the right critics or judgement in the eyes on analysts or fans, Hamilton and Schumacher are a prime example. Mark Webber took Hamilton out and no one seems to mention that :-(, I'm curious to know what the world would have to say had Hamilton taken Alonso out while trying to make a pass, I'm sure we'd be talking about sanctions to follow if that was the case, VERY SAD indeed.

Ted Kravitz spoke to McLaren during the race and confirmed on TV that according to the team it wasn't necessary to bring Button in since his tires were fine, so it's safe to say both drivers Button and Hamilton sometimes rely on the team to make this kind of call despite Button being responsible for the gamble earlier in the race.

This is the first time ever that I'm disappointed with your analyse, I really am.


Read the article again, nowhere does it say that Hamilton is immature for passing....???


but it does say he is immature for following a team call...thats just sad man!!


The problem was that if they didn't call Lewis in, Lewis was gonna pass JB!!!! and as JB said, now he feels part of the team!!! McLaren needed him to win this race!!! Unfortunately, was too obvious the "team fix"!! **grin**


hami fans. they are just blind


Also it wasn't a race of two but of 24 drivers, simply because Hamilton didn't beat Button does not mean he did not drive a good race.


Hamilton forgets how aggressive his driving style is, and how heavy handed he can be on his tyres. I highly doubt he would have managed to nurse one set of softs for 50+ laps like Button did and still pull off all the overtakes he did. That said, Alonso managed...

Maybe Hamilton should have gone for the harder tyre? Slower initially, but the thicker rubber would have held out for longer and would have come good later on in the race. It is clearly evident that Hamilton is still learning in F1. As you point out James, he has 7 years less experience in this harsh business/sport.

Highly interested what Schumacher could have done yesterday had he not been tagged by Alonso at the start. From the looks of things he would have been in P4 or P5 after the first corner. Given how good he used to be in the wet/dry conditions, he oculd have been in contention for a podium yesterday I reckon.


Button gambled and won.

Lewis followed orders and 'lost', although I think he deserves more respect for a brilliant drive which ended with Mark Webber apologising and Martin Whitmarsh accepting responsibility.


Very good points mentioned in this article. The real Lewis of 2007 is back again. Funny though, it was Alonso who took all the blame in 2007. This year he's starting to blame the team. I believe this is just a beginning – there will be blames to Button’s side also. We can see many drivers who came from lower series, went to low level teams and were developing, expecting and getting better results. British media boy came to top level McLaren (claimed himself as good as Senna), started destroying his team at once (2007 Monaco and so on) and was able to see only himself and his results. What’s changed after three years? Nothing! Media boy has already got one title under his name and next step he wants to do – like some mad genius from children’s cartoon movie – rule the world and have everybody under his feet.


I believe you are reading way too much into a gamble from Jenson he had to make after Lewis passed him... and a bad strategy call for Lewis.

By the end of the season, it won't even be close btw the pair...its not everytime Jenson can make lucky calls and then cruise to the finish line, Lewis showed why he is the best driver on the grid today. and was the only one able to really overtake cars just as fast as his or faster.. and by calling his team out finally for another stupid call to sabotage him, is finally letting them know he isnt that wide-eyed kid anymore. Watch this space, this is the peak of Jenson in his battle vs Lewis.

At the end of the season, the superior driver will be clear.


While I agree that Lewis is lacking in some maturity, and maybe lacks some tactical awareness that for example Michael Schumacher shows, I think that Jenson's tactical prowess is being overstated - correct me, if I'm wrong, but I believe Jenson was given the option of staying out or not, and he chose to come in primarily because his tyres were shot - i.e. he really had no choice.

Up until this point, he had been passed by his teammate. In other words head to head Jenson lost. Yes, the call worked out for him, but again Lewis showed that on the track he's more than a match for Jenson. And, it's this driving ability which I don't think Jenson will be able to match.

Maturity can however be learned.


A tad bitter when a new teammate shows you up? Hamilton sounding like Alonso at McLaren in 2007.


NO, Lewis sounding like Lewis in 2007.

Too bad he doesn't have Alonso now to claim he is the number 2 driver in the team and his dad to go to the FIA and force a team investigation.


Your analysis has one very large hole; Jenson was in a relatively desperated position and he had to gamble. Do you seriously believe he would have made that call if he was where Lewis was on the track at the time?

He wouldn't.


Sorry James, but I disagree with the theme of your post. While you make many valid observations, I believe that yesterday's race was just an example of McLaren hedging it's bets by using two different strategies, one to consolidate a strong qualifying position and the other try something different to make up for a bad - and crucially out of position - starting place.

Vitally, Hamilton was quicker than the cars around him, and, based on the evidence of the first race, trying something different was the only way to pass.

Regarding the pit calls: Button was this >< close to looking a complete idiot. I contned that the only reason he had to make that very late call was because he was slow on inters. Getting passed by your team mate on-track is an eye-opener, and no mistake. Had it been the wrong decision we'd all be discussing how Button had paniced and his inferior car control and inability to get heat into his rear tyres had let him down.

I say it was a brilliant but unusual race which saw a brave decision by a driver and a 'safe' decision by a team. Reading much more into this is projection, and inferring far more than is really there.


Excellent article James.

I am developing a bit of an issue with Hamilton (for want of a better word), he doesn't seem to be getting any maturer despite his relative age and time in F1 & keeps getting himself into some terrible PR positions. Not enough thinking about what he's doing before doing it I feel... The contrast between him and Button, IMO, is wide and very noticeable.

I also believe he wouldn't have made his tires last, he's not exactly known for keeping them in good nick.


you obviously missed turkey 2009 last year did you?where lewis practically drove a one stopper


I didn't miss it no, but then at the same time I can't remember every detail of every race I have seen! 🙂

My point was that Hamilton is hard on his tyres which is well known, and that still stands.


Is there something that I missed? Should Hamilton have not followed the team strategy and pitted for himself? He obeyed what team told him to do and he knew even in the race that it had been a bad decision. Then, how come did Hamilton turn out to be non-mature or non-complete driver?

He may well and truly a non-complete driver but this conclusion could in no way be predicated on what was happened in the race IMHO. This only proves that McLaren made a mistake, evethough it was a logical call on the surface, and that Hamilton was so eager to get past anyone in front him which was instinctive.

We've heard lots of drivers complaining about the strategy. What is wrong with it? Just because we could now hear team radio uncensored, it doesn't mean there wasn't similar radio conversation in the past.

We don't know what he could have done about his tyres after he would have passed Kubica and settled for second if it wasn't for the second pit stop. Kubica told press that Hamilton's tyres at the time he cought him was better than Kubica's, who stayed out for the rest of the race.

McLaren made a costly error and Hamilton was critical about that. That's not wrong and doesn't prove anything about the maturity in terms of racing. I don't say the maturity in terms of personal character, it's the maturity of a racing driver that matters, and I believe Hamilton is yet to show that he lacks or he has.


I sometimes like to recall the scene in Blade Runner where Dr Eldon Tyrell explains mortality to Roy Batty.

Tyrell: The facts of life ... to make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established


but this, all of this is academic. You were

made as well as we could make you.

Batty: But not to last.

Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you're the Prodigal Son; you're quite a prize!

Batty: I've done... questionable things.

Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.

Batty: Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for.

Obviously the worrying part for Ron or Martin reading this as metaphor, is what Roy in the next scene proceeds to do to his "father".

Lewis has (largely) thus far bought into the McLaren numbers and process ethos. Even when the analysis-paralysis has cost him dearly.

I then remember Nurburgring 09, Phil Prew condescendingly slapping him down in front of a similar global audience over the radio, telling him to just drive and let the engineers worry about strategy.

He has now witnessed the older Button give a proverbial two fingers to simulation and mission control, and reap the rewards and the plaudits. This is surely a critical stage in the evolution of Hamilton.

Will he spiral off into paranoia and lose the team, will he now be double-guessing every call that is made, can he trust the pitwall or will he consider that the team calculatingly sacrificed his Oz race to cover the odds/SC/weather. (à la Monaco 07, which led directly to Hungary 07, and all that followed)

Or will this instead be the catalyst for new growth, new self-reliance, a new more adult, more healthy, more self-actualized relationship between him and the team. Not a boy anymore, but a man. But as Tyrell said "A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established", can he make that leap into the unknown.

It will be fascinating to see what direction this all goes, but something broke on Sunday, and whatever happens, it won't and it can't go back together the same way.


So Hamilton is angry that he had to have a second stop. Correct me if I'm wrong but when he cruised up to the back of Aonso didint he complain that his tyres had 'gone off'

God knows what his tyres would have been like if he had of stayed on the one stop!

I can see there being more Button cars in the MTC than Hamilton.


What do you think happens to tyres when you smash out 10+ qualy laps to make up 20 seconds on the guys your were just in front of.

Would you have liked him to manage his tyres like he is more than capable of and not hunt Alonso down!!??!


I wouldn't read too much into this issue. Did the McLaren team split its strategy? After all it is a team sport. Imagine if everyone in front of Hamilton did stop a second time. He'd be looking like a hero. But that's what rain can do. It shakes up the usual strategy. Button has the right temperament for that kind of race and he just did a better job than Lewis - all weekend..

Weber also suffered from the Red Bull pit strategy.Weber had to wait until Vettel did his stop which was in itself probably 1 lap too late. Bringing cars into a congested pitlane is risky so I could see the reasoning but it just didn't work out. Vettel luckily maintained his lead after his stop; but it hurt Weber. That's racing.


Brilliant article James, absolutely spot on.

It was an extremely aggressive and impresive drive by Lewis only bettered by Alonso's supreme drive that was overlooked.

It would have been unlikely that Lewis' tyres would have lasted the duration of the race as he was constantly overtaking and spent a lot of time in Kubica's 'dirty air'.

Jensen's drive was very impressive and measured and he made the most of the conditions. If the track is dry and it is down to pure speed Jensen will struggle to keep up with Lewis but changeable weather along with the new tyre rule may just give Jensen the chance to make the most of his strengths to counter Lewis' blistering speed.


Hello James, unfortunately in F1 what we see is where does one finish in the race, I am afraid if hamilton had made the move on kubica and finished second, or if his move on alonso worked with out the distraction from webber you would probably write another article praising him. He had a bad weekend, he made it to 6 position by overtaking button and thn he showed to the world why he is the best by making some daring moves, i am sorry but if F1 is all about driving around without caring to take on a wheel to wheel then its a bore. Button was good all weekend but he was partly lucky to make the changes of his tyres in the right time. This weekend showed that he is already comfortable with the team and the car, no mater what happens from now on there will not be any excuse for him if he is beaten by hamilton.


I think you're absolutely right James. Hamilton has heaps of raw talent but little in the way of racecraft. He's still in the "go at top speed for two hours" phase, which is undeniably exciting but not always successful.

This was brought sharply into focus by his inability to get past Alonso despite having newer tyres. Alonso's were clearly completely shot - he couldn't even get the power on properly out of corners - yet he still managed to keep Hamilton behind him. It didn't appear to occur to H that, having failed to get past A at the end of the pit straight on three or four occasions, that he would have to think of something else. It's not like he was going to scare A into a mistake.

One of the 'thinking' drivers of yore - Senna, Prost, Schumacher for example - would have been trying stuff out. Repeatedly going off line somewhere to clean it up perhaps, to have a go at Alonso in a more favourable spot.

One thing I was delighted to see though: a good, old fashioned, guy-on-new-tyres-going-hell-for-leather-after-the-leaders-on-very-old-ones. Let's have lots more!


I don't really think that Lewis' mental fitness was on top in the last part of the race- tiredness played an important factor in the outbursts and the relative lack of progress I think. No wonder, he drove an awesome but long race without any resting period. And of course for him it was a terribly unlucky weekend 🙂 that couldn't have ended well.

But you are rigth: he drives like Senna, he overtakes like a god, he's got a spirit of a warrior. But still lacks in maturity compared to the "old" Senna for example (yes, we all remember only the matured, over 30 Senna I think).

The maturity of Lewis will come when he accepts the "Dark Side" of his. That he cannot be loved by everyone unconditionnally. And that he is not a "good boy" althogether- especially not on track. Now he still wants to convince everyone that he is the perfect Little Lewis, and tries to accept others' ideas to please them to be a perfect teamplayer, because a good boy is always a perfect teamplayer. But a certain beast comes forward from time to time and suprise Little Lewis (and everyone else). Sooner or later he'll sit down and come to terms with himself totally. It happened with Senna, with Schumi- when they realised that they were capable to risk everything, even life or dignity for WINNING (even if these Great Ones were very sorry afterwards from time to time). In Lewis' case this conscious decision is yet to be made.

I mean IMHO it is not a problem that on an unlucky weekend a strategic mistake was made- the problem is the reaction and the convinction that he doesn't know how to avoid it next time...

Great race by Button (and matured Alonso!)- he was level headed and lucky and made no mistake. But it was not his performance and personality that gave spice to yesterday's race 🙂


James - I'm not sure i agree with your comments.

Remember Jenson's rant last year 'how did we make this car so bad'. Also jenson was behind lewis and struggling for grip (he couldn't get the most out of the inters ) when he came in for slicks - as such it was a calulated gamble (also rain was expected 10 mins later which never arrived) - jenson did not have a great deal to lose - unlike lewis had he done the same. Finally - i think every driver relies on their engineers for overall race strategy - this is totally different to tyre choice (wet/dry).


No James, I disagree with your assessment. Yes, Hamilton relies on the team for strategy calls but so does Button. Button had to make that call yesterday as he had just been overtaken by his team mate - it was a gamble. That he pulled it off is both lucky and inspired.

It was obvious that Hamilton had been a sold a pup. His incredulity that the Ferrari's wouldn't be pitting confirmed to him that the decision of the team for him to pit to cover the Ferrari's was wrong.

Your article intimates that he could and should have overruled the team. What would have happened if the Ferrari's had indeed pitted and the strategy was the right strategy. He'd then be accused of disobeying team orders.

I still cant get my head round why the team would pit one driver but not the other. Oh, I forgot, Jenson is better on his tyres, so his tyres would last the race but Lewis' wouldn't.

Lewis was used as a rear gunner. He doesn't like it but he may have to get used to it.

Funny how Jenson, when interviewed by Sky, mentioned that as a driver one should look after oneself first, the team second. That is what he did and came on top. Lewis gave the opposite response and it showed - he is a team player first, a driver second. How long that will last is anyones guess.


That would be valid, if Lewis had an clue what was happening.

Clearly by the shock in his voice when he realised the others didn't have to pit again shows he was clueless. So it had nothing to do with being a team player.

Also, Jenson's "rant" last year was how did WE make it this bad, not "who did this to me - give me their name". Although it shows that both have either the bonus of extra brain capacity on the edge or the minus of being prone to distracting thoughts, it does show a less than subtle difference in mindset between the me and the we.


I'm sorry James, but I think that you're completely off base here. Jenson's tire change was one of desperation (he has said that he had destroyed the rears on his inters) and he lucked into the position of being able to take advantage of Vettel's misfortune. There was nothing more to it than that.

Why shouldn't Lewis tell his team just how the the decision was over the radio? The radio is there for communicating with the team, not for the entertainment of the fans. The last thing we should expect is for the driver to watch their words, just in case the brain dead masses are listening in.

It's not life skills that you are expecting Hamilton to learn, James, it's political skills. That's something that holds no water with me. If I my boss is acting like a fool, I will (and have done on many occasions) tell him or her. Better an honest person, than the slimey politician that Jenson seems to be.

I don't understand how Lewis is supposed to "be his own man" when he has been frequently told "you drive, leave the thinking to us". Germany 2009 comes to mind, and remember, it was the TEAM that told Lewis to stay out in China 2007 for so long. The last time he decided to ignore what the team had said, he was essentially sh*t on from a great height for having tor audacity to ignore his orders.

Mind you, I'm happy that Jenson grabbed the win for McLaren.


While I agree Lewis Hamilton must start taking more responsibility from the cockpit, I have never the less doubted the famed strategists at McLaren. Ever since the China debacle you mention (and there was another bad call - which I can't immediately remember), I have thought that they fell short of Ferrari, for example, as far as strategy is concerned.


Button's head is ruled by his brain where as Hamilton's is ruled by his a heart. Hamilton has a lot to learn but on raw speed is the faster of the two drivers. We have a driver pairing that is akin to the Prost/Senna years on driving styles. I just hope the relationship doesn't go the same way.


If your referring to Lewis being like Senna you need to stop right there! Senna was the complete package in racecraft and mental toughness. Lewis still has to develop the latter.


I was referring to their driving style. Senna was an aggressive driver as is Hamilton. Prost was a smooth driver as is Button. No where do I say anything about the overall package of Hamilton compared to that of Senna.


Fair enough...I'm just tired of the UK press & blogs making this association. Lewis is not Senna. If anything Alonso is closer to that association.


A good article James but I think too many people are trying to belittle Lewis for a drive that helped make the Oz Grand Prix great.

Last week the whole race was slammed for being a complete bore!! No one is saying that after this excellent race.

If we look back to a few weeks ago just after testing, one of the Bridgestone guys said that the tyre degradation between Lewis and Jenson was very marginal. They agreed that there were two different driving styles but concluded that it was the chassis and its suspension that played a bigger part in looking after the tyres. Hence BMW being particularly soft on its rubber.

There is no way that you drive like Lewis did from 11th on the grid, passing all those big names on track without your tyres suffering.

We slam Lewis for complaining about his strategy because he is young and immature, but did we not slam Rubans last year for the same thing??? Isn't he the most experience driver on the grid?? Put your self in their shoes. They are not racing for a bit of entertainment on a Sunday afternoon, they are racing for their careers at the pinnacle of motor sport. In their shoes, I think most of us would be exactly the same.

I agree that when Lewis hit P3 he should have said I'm not coming in, my tyres are just fine. But when he took his own way in qualifying back in 2007 against Alonso, he was slammed again..... The poor guy can't win.

Whilst I'm taking nothing away from Jenson's excellent drive and win. I would rather see the warrior approach of Lewis any day than the carefully calculated boring drive we saw from Jenson. He made one calculated risk after being overtaken by his team mate which helped deliver the win. Had Lewis not been on the attack, we would all be sat here complaining how boring F1 has become.


Why did McLaren allow Lewis's petulant radio message to be broadcast? I assume the teams have control over what they release to the world feed, so I'm surprised they put that transmission forward. I bet it made Ferrari chuckle.

On the whole "Hamilton losing his head" issue, I think he's been harshly treated. Journalists are fully aware he makes for good copy and they take advantage of his being a sensitive soul - defensive, rather highly-strung and easily wound up.

The whole Burnout-gate was ridiculous - he lit up his tyres for the fans and gets nabbed by a copper trying to earn some brownie points. If he'd refused to give it some welly the forums would have been full of fans saying he was a misery or he was stuck up. He can't win. If it'd have been a Kimi Raikkonen-figure the media reaction would have been "Good old Kimi, the free spirit - boys will be boys!" But Lewis gets hammered for it.

I think James is bang on in pointing out the chinks in his armour, especially the contrast with his team-mate, but as Lewis himself admitted at the start of the year, he can learn a lot from Jenson, perhaps more than he initially realised. But yesterday I don't blame him for letting out his frustration - regardless of who made what call, he drove a stunning race from a mid-grid position and ended up with only sixth, so it's understandable he felt hard done by.

But long-term he should certainly consider teaming up with someone who can better help focus his mind and channel his energy positively, as Jenson himself would no doubt testify. In 2007 he worked quite closely with a sports psychologist called Kerry Spackman who helped him a great deal by all accounts. Perhaps he should give him a bell again.


I fully agree with the comparison between the two drivers but let us not forget the first three years of Button. I believe the team will nurish Hamilton; will explain what happened and I do believe that Hamilton will grow. Besides all that can you imagine what a combination that might bring in the future? A "mature warrior" driver? I still believe it's great for the fans to see him overtaking and to hear his comments. I'm also now very curious to see what's happening over the rest of the season between the two drivers.


If this race demonstrated anything, it's that compromising mechanical grip adds a tremendous amount of passing.

Gillan is clearly correct.


Another great article James.

I think it's clear that Lewis is a quicker driver than Jenson, but that isn't enough to win a World Championship.

We're set for a fascinating season between these 2. A lot of people will be eating their words.

Where are you, Eddie Irvine?


Actually from Jenson's comments on BBC1 forum, he did not gamble but effectively that was the only option he had - as otherwise he was going to go backwards (particularly after Lewis overtook him on lap 5). This is because JB's inters had "gone" and I imagine most of the field's including LH's must have too.

I thought the more interesting analytical/strategic aspect was whether McLaren should have called LH in straight after JB on lap 7(not lap 8 when when everyone went in). Plus JB mentioned there was a dry line appearing with admittedly damp sections too.

All above info would have been available to Mclaren strategists who actually were in the best position to make the right call. The drivers can only only have limited info in terms of grip and possible dry lines.


Fantastic race. Impeccable drive by Jenson.

You have to feel for Lewis, the second year in a row at Aus, he's driven a storming race only to end with his faith/relationship with the team in question.

James, its becoming a cliche, but are we not seeing history repeat, Prost vs Senna, thinking to victory versus pure racer instinct.

What a year its going to be.


James, I haven't seen any pictures of Lewis joining in the celebrations. Am I missing something? I'm sure in the previous 2 seasons Heiki would join in the celebrations when Lewis won. He said himself he had the drive of his life, and Jenson also said Lewis was one of the first to congratulate him so I'm not anti-Hamilton in any way. He was clearly not a happy bunny, but wasn't listening to the team instead of making his own decision the issue he had last year in Melbourne, and as you said in China 2007. I hope Lewis learns to take those decisions quickly, for his own sake. Without refuelling F1 is a thinking drivers challenge, it's no longer the mad dash it was previously. Can't wait for Canada now.


James, there's a few points I think you've missed here..

How many passes did Button make on his easy cruise to victory? In my opinion the mark of a great racer is his ability to pass on the track, as well as making key strategical moves.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that we witnessed Lewis romp up to back of Button within the first few laps and pass him outright on the track. If he hadn't been ordered in for a second stop, with the unbelievable pace he had, I think there was a real chance of him catching and passing Button again, this time being for the lead. As Martin pointed out in his great commentary - "Hamilton knows he's in with a chance of a win here."

If Lewis had been allowed to carry on, it would be such a different story, everyone would be in awe of his pace, talent and determination, instead everyone is jumping on the all too easy experience over youth bandwagon. Fascinating! I cant wait until later in the season, when Lewis comes back fighting - something he does best!

Love the site - keep up the great work.


You say "Jenson Button won the race with a performance of measured perfection and instinctive tactical brilliance" yet he himself has said that his early tyre change was a necessity rather than a choice. From that point Jenson cruised to victory as the drivers in front of him pitted and then Vettel crashed out - surely tactical brilliance requires a little more effort!

Hamilton on the other hand spent an hour and a half fighting his way to the front only to be called in by the team as he was about to take second place - a move that Whitmarsh has admitted was a mistake. Is it any wonder he was tired and emotionally charged when he made that radio call back to the pit wall. Yet for this moment of frustration the British and International press, including yourself, are having a field day. You have taken it upon yourselves to destroy the boy's reputation, ridicule him, label him as dependent and immature.

The people that really need to grow up are the men and women attempting to bring down one of our greatest sportsmen.


I only came to F1 in 97 so never saw any of the Prost-Senna races but is it fair to say the styles are akin to those of JB and LH? As I understand it Prost would see the big picture and save tyres and brakes for the latter part of the race, Senna would fight every inch.

Last season JB was criticised for playing the numbers game but look at what he was holding back (Brazil). LH gets criticised for his balls-out style of attacking 100% at every corner.

I think Mclaren have made a brilliant decision with this driver line-up; one looking at the next corner, one looking at the finish line or the end of the season.

Two final points; I was glad to hear Martin Whitmarsh say JB provides so much feedback as Ross Brawns comments recently could be seen as insinuating that he did not whilst at Brawn. Also, JB knows what an honour it is to be where he is and I am chuffed to bits for him. Australia showed his gamble to join Mclaren to be justified and I hope this season will give him the opportunity to silence his critics who put last years wins down to the double diffuser and nothing more.


Seems there are a few short memories around here. Button does come off as cool, composed and, this year at least, is the consummate team player. However, we only need to look back a few months to his jittery days when Brawn were struggling and Red Bull were reeling him in. The ‘how oh how can this car be so bad’ radio transmission – though not directed directly at the team – wasn’t that dissimilar from what Hamilton said this weekend. I’m not saying that Lewis might have spoken out of turn but, let’s face it, this isn’t the first time that this has happened. China 2007 isn’t the only example. The wrong strategy in Valencia (I think) where the team had a massive advantage in qualifying and still opted for the riskier two-stop strategy, ultimately exacerbated by a blown stop and now this. I hate to say it but, for all the resources invested in the team and technology, Mclaren continue to make many errors when it comes to pit-stop strategy. Given one of them has potentially cost the team and driver a championship and this one could well prove crucial come the end of the year, I can’t see how Lewis is anything but justified in saying what he said.

Alistair Blevins

Great insight - you hit the nail perfectly on the head.

It'll be interesting to see what Button and Hamilton take from the weekend and how they use what they've learnt.

I find it interesting that few observers have given Button a shot at the title. He clearly has a mountain of confidence, and his ability through all phases of the race was there for all to see.

Hamilton will learn, and prosper over the longer term, and will learn much from Button's vast experience (from both ends of the grid), making him a more complete competitor.



You say that Hamilton was never going to beat Button, but had he not got held up in the pits he could have come out in front of Button, much like Kubica. I think Hamilton drove a stunning race, but got unlucky in the pits, when his team made and error, and when Webber crashed into him.

I also dont see what the fuss is all about for him saying the team got the strategy wrong. Its nothing like as bad as Rubens rant last year, and he is the most experienced driver on the grid.


Difficult one this. I can see the point you are making, but with only three years to his career I'm not sure what more people can expect from Hamilton at this stage.

The team obviously made either a strong recommendation or an order to Hamilton to come in as they believed, based on accurate previous experience, that Hamilton was likely to wear through his tyres. What was Hamilton supposed to do? Tell the team he didn't need tyres?

Lewis has had a nightmare weekend with the out-of-the-park issue completely overblown by the media (which, amusingly, the BBC repeatedly raised then tempering it with my same comment), and I think this decision by the team just capped the weekend off. Interestingly if the FIA had not decide to broadcast Lewis's in-car comment no-one would ever know what he said........



Jenson himself said on the BBC Forum that he had no choice but to go onto the Slicks because he had lunched his Inters and "was going backwards". He even said that he thought he ws in trouble because the pitlane was so wet. Sure Hamilton was pissed off and lost his head a little. However (according to Jenson himself), it wasn't the tactical masterpiece that you and others are making it out to be - just a bit of luck with the timing.



Before we all jump on the Lewis v Jenson top dog debate. Both drivers have their positive and negative attributes.

The way this race played out the cards fell in Jensons favour.

Firstly for the first round of stops he states clearley himself that he had to come in to change onto the dry tyres as he was struggling fo balance on the inters. He had just been over taken by his team mate as he says he was going backwards.

Secondly Lewis was badly held up on his first stop by being held in the box for traffic in the pit lane.

The team made a safe call to change to a second set of tyres on lewis' car. Jenson had called to complain of wear to his set out in the lead. Lewis was stuck behind Kubica loosing time and damaging his tyres. To split the stratergies seems a fair and mature call from Whitmarsh and co.

Had the long run set of tyres degraded badly, the ferrari's and Kubica gone for a change as they had worked their sets hard all race we could have been looking at a different result and prasing the hard racer style and cool team management.

This has nothing to do with loosing cool or different smooth syles. (Kubica P2 with aggresive defnsive moves.)

Jenson is known for telling radio calls such as " come on guys how have we made this car so bad" when things dont go his way. We would think lewis' call was the first of it kind to be heard from any driver.

Lets let the drivers sort this out on track over the championship and leave the physcho babble for the teen soaps.


I think that is an unfair comparison, chances are Button just told his engineers he was finding the tyres losing speed and they offered him the chance to come in. Meanwhile Hamilton is like Schuey, he makes the best of what he has got. Nobody else on the track was considering a tyre swap so early in the race even if I was!! To me it was obvious because the rain was predicted to last 15 minutes with more later, the guys responsible for strategy would know that and have access to the satellites. Neither Button nor Hamilton could or should be expected to know that.

A drivers job is to drive the hell out of a car, sure he can have an idea, but strategy is not his job, nor should it be. Imagine if Button had not recovered when he went off straight after coming out on slicks, people would be singing a different song.

The fact is that Hamilton’s job is to drive and yesterday he showed great talent coming back from 11th. Where his maturity is lacking is in washing his dirty linen in public. He has to learn to think “what would the management want me to say” before opening his mouth in a press conference. There is no point getting angry with the team or the strategist, they took a gamble and it did not pay off. How many times have they done that and saved the day?

I have long felt that Mclaren was a little risk adverse and that they had lost opportunities in the past, so it is good to see them changing.

Losing his cool like this can well be because of other turmoil in his life, possible upset with father, lost girlfriend, new competitor at work. However, they are all character building and I have total faith in his driving ability, I predict (hope) he will be world champion this year. I like Button too, but he had it last year and they must be good little boys, play nicely and take turns!

A promising start for both drivers of Mclaren and a very exciting race to watch, considering the fat fuel laden cars I was not expecting it to get interesting until much later in the race, thank goodness for the rain!


Interesting observation James. However I think you are being a little harsh on Lewis for following the team's instructions on the second stop.

The team made the decision based upon looking at what the other cars were doing, something Lewis could not have known.

Yes, it proved to be wrong in the end, but McLaren hedged their bets. No one really knew how good the soft tyres would be after 50 laps - so McLaren covered both basis.

If Kubica and the Ferrari's pitted - then I am sure the team would also heve instructed Button to stop as well.

At that stage of the race it was not so much about leading from the cockpit - Button was simply in the right place at the right time - Lewis was not.


Exactly. A good decision by McLaren to hedge their bets. If the tyres had gone off, Lewis would have been poised to take victory. Either way, a McLaren would have won the race.

Pleasure to watch Hamilton come through the field though. True racer.



What absolute nonsense!

Jenson himself said that he had thrashed his inters (his reason why Lewis passed him I guess). He had two choices: early tyre change or continue to go backwards. Choosing the former option is not a sign of tactical brilliance, it was a sign of desperation of the situation he had put himself in.

Can we try to be a bit more objective rather than switch the hero worship Lewis suffered for a few years onto Jenson.


you seem to be one of the few that picked up on jenson brave decision. he was forced to come in and didnt make a drivers decision. come on people wake up


James, I have heard news that Ferrari used new engines yet again. Can you check and confirm it? That would be really strange.



they put the engines they canged in baharain back on. At least for practice sessions.


There are two nuances that haven't been mentioned in all this.

Firstly, Button is being lauded for his mature decision to change to slicks. However in the post-race press conference he admitted that he was finding it very difficult on the intermediates and had little to lose from a switch. Indeed, I think Hamilton had passed him at that point.

Secondly, I'm sure McLaren 'mission control' were at least partly influenced by the fact that Hamilton does not look after his tyres as well as some others and would most likely have needed to come in anyway. He was even complaining the SECOND set of dries were gone by the time he came up behind Alonso! How the hell did he expect to extract 75% of the GP out of them like Button?

So I don't think Button's victory was quite as masterful as some would have you believe. It was born of necessity - he just cannot handle a mis-handling car as well as other topliners. And Lewis, for all his temper-tantrums could never have made his tyres last the difference.

No-one seems to have noticed that the real winner in all this was Alonso who afterwards claimed to be delighted because the main title rivals finished behind him - he mentioned Vettel and...Michael(!) Can we detect he doesn't view Jenson as a threat for the WDC?


Come on James, Jenson pitted for slicks out of desperation. Retrospectively it turned out to be the right decision but it wasn't a case of Jenson feeling out the conditions and making the right call. He was struggling immensely to generate heat in his intermediates and just lost track position to Lewis and was probably in line to fall even further.

Hamilton is a clear level above Jenson when it comes to speed. Lady luck smiled on Jenson today but the scales are still tipped emphatically in Lewis' favor.


Australian Autosport Community



Whilst I'd agree with you, up to a point, that on raw pace, you'd often expect Hamilton to be ahead of Button, but I'd completely disagree that "Hamilton is a clear level above Jenson". This weekend, Hamilton qualified 11th and Button 4th. You cannot do that if you are a slow driver, which Button is not. I think you are blinded by the fact that Hamilton came into the sport and amazed people, whilst Button was chugging around in awful cars. Button has been, and still is, the most under-rated of all the current F1 drivers!


Anyone can have an off weekend, Lewis didn't get it right in Qualifying but his race was quite exciting. Jenson was last years world champion, I think he's past the point of being underrated.

Don't get me wrong, Jenson did a great job and it's a win McLaren wouldn't have walked away with had Heikki still been in the car but it hasn't changed my expectation of how the year will play out, which is to say in Lewis' favor.

Thanks for the reply.


Australian Autosport Community


I think Vettel & Hamilton are in the same boat. Great warriors with amazing skill and determination, but no leadership from the cockpit: I am mystified why Vettel did not pit when he noticed sparks at his front leg tyre. Instead he was just waiting from a pit call and ended up in the gravel.

You journalists should'nt be too harsch on Hamiltons outbursts in the cockpit. Remember he was in the middle of a fight, with lots of adrenaline rushing through his body. No wonder he was not keeping his composure and having a tea conversation. It makes F1 very human. Just like Alonso. He made me laugh when he told his Ferrari mechanics to f*ck off when they informed him that Lewis was closing in very rapidly 😀


Why would he wanna pit? Either his breaks are shot (which they were) and his race's just as over as if he's in the gravel or they're fine and he just threw away the lead to enjoy the scenery in the pits.

And unlike Hamilton, Vettel who is younger than wunder-Lewis didn't rage against his team even though this is the second time he lost an all but certain win due to technical issues that are less about design (a systemic issue) but about sloppiness.


your comment about lewis is very unfair,what he say about the team was true,there was no need to call him in his tyres was fine, it was a bad leadership from the team, jb did a superb job no doubt,same thing from lewis he was the driver of the day, but dont take a hit at lewis , i completely desagre whit the idea that drivers not allow to speak they mind, why dont u question the possible reason behind the call,it cost not only lewis but the team some good point mclaren is not suppose to make this sort of rookie- like mistake.


Congrats James, again a great article.

As a equal lewis and button fan, i do feel lewis is more dependant on the team for the decisions (which can be wrong at times as they are not in the cockpit). Jenson was fantastic yesterday a great lesson in race craft -which you just can't teach.


More bad press for Lewis -

'Mr Pallas criticised the 25-year-old British racing driver on the day that Victoria launched a Don't Be a Dickhead road safety campaign.

Asked whether Lewis Hamilton met that description, he said: "OK, I'll say it. He's a dickhead."' (Minister for Roads for Victoria - BBC).

“I hope we put a proposal as the GPDA to see if we can have the mirrors back to where they belong – and it is something we mentioned in the drivers’ briefing on Friday. We have all been quite honest and said that we all have difficulties – apart from Lewis. The problem for me is that we are driven by the aerodynamics, but the mirrors situated on the aero stuff vibrates.” (Rubens Baricello)


Frankly, I am tired of the anti Hamilton remarks that surface each and every time he makes a small mistake or isn't quickest. Are we all forgetting last year when Button made his similar famous broadcast from the cockpit: "How can this car be SO bad?"? I don't recall articles being written about him accusing him of "not being the complete package".

These guys are on the world sporting stage, they are racers and they want to win. If they are not winning, they want to know why. They are fired up with adrenelin and they all do and say things they probably regret.

The qualifying broadcast made me angry. I have never been a fanatical sports fan shouting at the TV. There was such an undertone of negativity towards Hamilton. Obviously his antics the night before did not help and he probably paid the price with his grid position.

Hamilton’s drive was fantastic on Sunday. He had moved up 4 positions by turn 4. A couple because of Alonso's spin, but following that he picked off his team mate, and started moving up the field. Only two weeks ago we were all complaining that F1 is going to be a boring procession this year and for me this guy lit the track up with his gutsy moves. Button drove carefully and already having had the advantage of the tyre change managed to stay out front and look after his tyres.

Furthermore, Hamilton hasn’t "slated" his team as many other articles state. He merely questioned the call for the second tyre change and quite rightly so. Perhaps his tyres would have gone the distance, perhaps not.

It's time for the negativity to stop. It would also be nice if Brundle and Couthard could show a bit more passion for their British drivers, instead of constantly praising Alonso and the tiresome Red Bull team / drivers.


Go read Brundle's piece on the Beeb website... he called Lewis as his driver of the day.

I'm sure that that kind of chatter goes on, on the radio all the time between drivers and the pit... why did the FIA release that particular snippet?

It was the tone and the accusation, in Lewis's voice, that is in question, for me. Not what he said, but the way he said it...


tone? so he was an inch from alonsos ass and had webber trying furiously to run him off the road. come on.

true about button totally slated ross brawn and nothing was said. lots of people like to hate lewis hamilton. the same as tiger woods i suppose. i cannot think of any connection though..

people need to stop harrasing the great talent as f1 would be outright boring if lewis was not in it.


Yeah, the tone... don't you think Lewis sounded angry \ peeeed off? I did.

I'm not slating Lewis, I think he is an exceptional talent - and one of the best 3 or 4 racers in the world - but there's a time and a place to air your grievances (especially if you're a Macca driver), as you say Russ, not an "inch from alonsos ass" or with "webber trying furiously to run him off the road". His competitors will be rubbing their hands with glee to see Lewis losing his cool.

Err, I don't recall Button slating Ross Brawn, when was that? I recall Rubens's "blah, blah, blah" comments.


Even as a McLaren and Hamilton fan I'll readily admit he has flaws which I hope he'll iron out with more F1 and life experience, and that leadership is definitely one of them. However, I still think as a racer he is unrivalled. I read the comments from the last article and was just laughing at how many people (mostly red fans) saying that he would not have passed Alonso. I would like these people to go and have a look at the footage of the lead up to and just after the moment Hamilton was taken off by Webber. At first glance it looked as if he was trying the impossible. But if anyone looks at the footage again in detail, by going on the outside, he forced Alonso to take a slightly non-preferred line into that corner knowing well that it would likely comprimise his exit (and it did Alonso made a dire mess of the exit), giving Hamilton an opportunity to switch back and use better drive on the exit to overtake. Unfortunately thanks to Webber, we never found out if that would've worked.



Excellent well balanced article - You don't air your dirty washing on a radio - You calm down and deal with it later - Jensons skills and maturity are now on show as he finally is in a good team. Lewis is a fantastic talent but needs to still grow up a bit. I hope when he reflects he will see the way forward


Button had a great win, for sure, but I still think he is easily discouraged. When it all goes right for him then he the most confident driver in the world. But if he gets a rough trot then he doesn't quite shine so much.

Button needs to drive like he did yesterday when he is in 15th or 20th position. He should definitely take a few lessons from Alonso if he wishes to retain the title this year.


James, interesting angle on this but I think you are missing the bigger (and more obvious) picture here.

The headline for me is that Maclaren made a big mistake today that Ferrari and Renault avoided. F1 is a team sport and its primarily the teams' responsibility to make these decisions. They - not Hamilton - made the mistake today.

Maclaren have let Hamilton down a few times now - including as you mention the 2007 World Championship. He is entitled to be annoyed. Blaming him for not over-ruling a team mistake seems a bit the wrong way round to me.


Jenson pulled it off yesterday and derserves everything he got, but 'instinctive tactical brilliance' is a little wide of the mark.

The tyre call was loaded with risk and was more of a gamble than a stroke of genius. Context is everything and Jenson had a poor start, banged wheels with alonso and got done by lewis at turn three. Jenson was going backwards and my reading is that his emotions at that point would have clouded his decision making. It was a nothing to loose play.


With respect but I disagree with a number of your points and think the conclusions as published on Planet F1 are more in line with the truth (http://www.planet-f1.com/race-features/6059194/Conclusions-From-Australia...)

Jenson Button drove really well but his win was as much about luck as it was skill. Seeing Lewis Hamilton take with ease when both on the same tyres showed me the real difference between the two drivers and said a lot about Jenson Button.

Does anyone on this site believe Hamilton would have taken Alonso with such ease as he did Button?

Button's a great driver when all is well but unlike both Hamilton and Alonso he is unable to get that extra from the car when all isn't so well.

The overtaking moves by Hamilton were magic, just as Senna would have done.

Yes Button did really well and good for him but James Allen and others should not use this as an excuse to have a go at, without doubt the driver of the day Lewis Hamilton


more like the drive of the day, because the driver of the day was button.


Very well written piece! Thumbs up!

Bello from Nigeria

Spot on James. Nobody tells us like it is. I think Hamilton will grow to be one of the best drivers, like my dad always tells me, "experience is the best teacher". He is just 3 years into his career, already he has a world championship under his belt. He is probably a little vulnerable now i guess considering his papa ain't around. But i am sure he will be build up confidence, thats life.


If I was a McLaren mechanic, I know which driver I'd be secretly rooting for from now on...


he is lucky he is british, otherwise it would be like 2007 just the other way around.

Alanis Morisette

Yes indeed.

Lewis, the actual racer, rather than the chap who coincidentally made a lucky call when he couldn't drive on inters after being passed by his team mate, and won because Red Bull can't provide their absolute gem of a driver with a reliable car. Plus he had the buffer of the excellent Kubica keeping a flailing Massa at bay, and it wasn't the genius win people make it out to be.


Jenson has taken a great step forward in defending his championship. I think Lewis is somewhat rattled by Jenson. I think he believed that he would easily out qualify and race Jenson and that hasn't happened.

It will be very interesting to see how he responds in Malaysia.


James, do you believe that Lewis's first set of soft tyres would actually have lasted? He is renowned for being extremely aggressive with his tyres. Remember Brazil 2007 and Turkey 2008 when he had to make additional stops?


Convinently you seem to forget Turkey 2009 where he did a one stopper and came 4th. Lewis has shown that if required he cam manage his tyres as well as any one in F1


As Schumacher explained in the pas and again Alonso explained last year, EVERY driver just listens to his team when it comes to strategy.

I'm not talking about stopping one lap earlier or later to gauge the weather conditions, but when they had called in Button, he would have come in too.

They didn't have to call in Button since he was in the lead. They could simply wait.

They wanted to get Hamilton past Kubica and apparently assumed that all drivers would make an extra stop.

When you make the stop first you gain time, so they opted to call Hamilton in. Of course the whole thing fell apart when only Rosberg and Webber went for two stops and the top 4 simply finished the race on their worn tyres.

Drivers HAVE to trust their team to make decisions like that. They cannot calculate when the best time for a stop is

Besides, Hamilton was really past Alonso had Webber not rammed him off and he got past Massa several times already, so why not again.

His final 5th position is an amazing achievement when you consider all the adversties Hamilton had to overcome.


Amazing James!

James. Do you think its going to be closer between the two McLaren drivers than we all first thought? Its an amazing contrast between the two. Both have different quality's in driving and personality. I think this is going to shape up to be a great battle!! Cant wait.

I felt like a on Christmas eve waking up early for the race and i was disappointed. Fantastic!



Dont know why people are moaning. A good strategic strategy split by McLaren. If the tyres had not lasted for everyone else (an unknown at the time) then everyone would be saying what a great move by McLaren. They split the strategy, and won the race as a result.


interesting reading James albeit slightly biased. i usually love reading your informative threads

i don't know how everyone who posted here feels after u drive one of ur best drives and finish shunted off the track ... and expect not to say anything!

everyone seems to forget how many times, from the middle part of the last season, we heard button criticize the brawn team and the car (to the world) for its handling because it was not to his liking. he will probably do the same when and if he's still in the championship race later on in the season - hats off to him though for his measuered drive and his intuitive and albeit somewhat lucky ( - his words he had no grip and no other option) call for tyre change.

yet after [B]A[/B] fantastic race which i still cannot get over u try to diminish lewis for uttering a few words the FIA made public, probably out of the thousands he said on his radio. it is just one race yet everyone is pointing his finger - let's give him time please

im a mclaren fan but after yesterday the team disappointed me a bit after hearing martin's words after the race


You do realise that James Allen is just about Lewis Hamilton's number 1 fan don't you? Do you not remember his Monaco GP commentary in 2008? I would suggest that you are completely blind to Hamilton's faults if you complain that this article is biased. This is the MOST balanced piece of journalism I have seen on this topic!

Well done James.


Yes James - the one thing Lewis has not yet developed is his ability to lead strategy and over ride the team thinking.

Lewis probably has the "feel" to know when to lead the strategy already but doesn't just do it! So I do not think he's that far off - he just needs to get in the car and tell the Pit Wall when he's coming in

Looking at how fast Lewis learned things last year - I would put money on that next week in Malaysia (if conditions require it) Lewis will now just do it


Lewis would no way have got to the end of the race on 1 set of tyres, with his aggression even his second set was showing graining at the end of the race, had he relied on one set of tyres for 50 laps IMHO he would have ended up having a similar incident to Kimi at Nurburgring.

Button is a smooth driver who's style is conservative on tyres, Lewis is very hard on his tyres.

McLaren did the right thing pitting him as I really don't think his tyres with his all action style would have lasted 50 laps.


I think Hamilton had an opportunity to show some maturity at the end of the race, he could have congratulated Button and enjoyed the celebration. Instead he acted in accordance with his new Australian nickname, D***head.