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Second Button win forces a re-evaluation of his quality
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Second Button win forces a re-evaluation of his quality
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Apr 2010   |  5:31 pm GMT  |  235 comments

Jenson Button’s victory in the Chinese Grand Prix today, which puts him in the lead in the championship, is one of those results which can change perceptions in Formula 1.


Let’s take a balanced look at this situation. Last year he took a big early lead in the championship in a car with a big technical advantage and then had a patchy second half to the season, holding on for dear life to win the title. Nevertheless I put him as ‘Driver of the Year’ because his peaks were very high and on some of his bad weekends he made some great saves, fighting his way back to score important points.

This season he has pleasantly surprised many in F1, who admired his smoothness and were impressed with some of his performances last season, but still weren’t sure about him.

Meanwhile today’s result will trouble those people who dismiss him as a moderate driver, who lucked into his world championship with an all conquering Brawn car last year.

His win in Melbourne, which like today’s win was based on a crucial tyre choice at a pivotal moment, was dismissed by many as lucky because he was forced to pit because his intermediate tyres were worn out. That early call gave him the platform for the win but from then on he still had to drive most of the race on a single set of tyres.

Today he disproved the theory that luck has anything to do with it; he, Rosberg, Kovalainen and the Renault drivers stayed on slicks in light rain in the early laps, while most of the runners pitted for intermediates. When those started burning out after a few laps, they were all forced to pit again for slicks, opening up a yawning gap between the leading group and the rest. That gap was only closed by a second safety car to clear debris.

There was still plenty of driving for Button to do, once that tyre decision had been made, including passing Rosberg and then keeping the pace up on worn intermediates at the end. He made one mistake, near the end of the race, locking up his wheels and going off the track, after which he also struggled to get the tyres up to temperature, which allowed Hamilton to close up.

“For me, it is my best victory – every one you win becomes your best victory but this was was pretty tough conditions,” he said. “It is not luck we came out on top today. We chose correctly in the conditions. The start was the right call definitely but it was slippery and we knew how quickly the soft tyres would be working.”

Button went to McLaren for three reasons; for a fast car, to test himself against Hamilton, but most important of all, to prove that he didn’t just win the title last year because he had the best car. This last point was one of the key reasons he gave to Brawn when he told them he was leaving and it is one even his harshest critics must concede he is proving so far this season.

Button made a lot of bad decisions in his early career, particularly when choosing which team to drive for and it’s great to see that, late in his career, he has found himself realizing his potential and showing people what he can do, which has not always been easy to see.

Of course we have to take into account that he also has off days, when the car isn’t right for him, he can drift out of the picture. But since he’s had a competitive car, those days are noticeably less frequent.

His confidence is sky high after winning the championship and these wins will only add to that.

“You won’t see many better drives than that,” said McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, who has seen a few in his time. “I can tell you – he was very, very impressive today.”

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1

Hamilton passed Rosberg by pitting one lap earlier onto his final set of inters. The extra speed of the new rubber allowed him to pass rosberg while he was in the pits changing his tyres on the same lap button changed onto his final set of inters

At this point Jenson and Hamilton were on the same tyres, which were in virtually the same condition. This is the point were both drivers could be best compared. At this point Jenson was able to increase the lead from under 4 seconds to nearly 10 seconds. If Lewis is so much faster than Jenson why was he not able to close the gap at this point?

2

Exactly. Why was Lewis slower at the end? Why was Jenson faster? Skill, pure and simple. remember the Italian GP a few years ago when Schumacher followed JB and remarked how surprised he was at JB’s speed on the opening lap? I do – go on JB and win the WDC again.

3

Oops, it was Jacques, not Gilles….

4

Oops, I forgot Berger on 10

5

I think we just have to look at a list of drivers who have won more than 9 Grands Prix to get an idea of the kind ot talent Button has. (One more win and he hits 10).

The drivers on 10 wins are Scheckter, Peterson and Hunt.

On 11 wins and you have Hamilton, Massa, Barichello, and Gilles Villenueve.

Should he get to 12 wins he would join the likes of Reutemann, Jones and Andretti.

On 13 wins we have Ascari and Coulthard.

14 gets you Brabham and Graham Hill.

Good company indeed. You don’t ‘luck in’ to such a number of victories.

6

F1 is all about who crosses the finish line first. There are no points for style-it is definitely entertaining to watch Lewis overtaking numerous cars but if he doesn’t cross the finish line first he doesn’t win.

Why people, ie Lewis fans ,continually post such things as -“If the race was 1 lap longer Lewis would have won ” or “lewis is being sabotaged by Maclaren ” is totally beyond me.

I just can’t believe Button gets all the flak he does. Last year it was all luck because he had the best car , this year it’s all luck because of the rain. While Hamilton bails for the pits Button thinks “I can make slicks work here” and shows his great car control by doing just that.

Even if Jenson wins a race in the dry there will be some underlying reason that he won – it will be nothing to do with talent, the Button bashers will make sure of that.

7

Button is riding a wave of luck… the WDC was 100% thanks to the double diffuser, and his two wins were a result of whacky races, due to fluctuating weather…

The only think consistent here is that Button needs extrodinary levels of luck to compete with the best…

Button is as important to the winning equation as the exchaust pipe on his car…

8
M. S. Koentjoro

Much has been made about how Button is so dependent on a car that is setup exactly to his liking or else, but so far that has not been the case, he bagged 2 wins albeit not in a “proper” condition and beat Lewis Hamilton 3-1 in qualifying.

Well, if there is a team that can provide him with such setup almost all the time, I am certain he’s already in it.

Oh, Hamilton will be his usual aggressive and exciting self, but the prophecies about him using Button to wipe the floor and everything, don’t see it happening, wet or dry.

9

If it had rained heavier in Melbourne—and it was expected to—then Button would have been absolutely nowhere and the headlines would have been ‘Button loses head in Oz when overtaken by Hamilton’.

It was a brave decision, sure, but Button’s no shaman. 2 out of 2 times he’s lucked in to victory this year. For me, Hamilton’s drives have been far more impressive and more memorable.

10

Kudos to Button in acheiving what he has at Mclaren and if he continues and beats Hamilton by seasons end I will eat this plate of humble pie before me.

But Hamiltons consistancy and superb racecraft will expose him as a 2nd teir driver. He’s been lucky in getting the two victories I actually find

myself laughing out loud at he’s good fortune with the ‘tyre calls’ and the weather working in his favour….

But thats no way to build a championship year. I still think he lacks out an out pace and the ability to charge through a field like Lewis.

But it makes for a great season.

11

To those who dismiss Button as being mediocre – You guys are funny. I’m not a particular Button fan, I love motorsport in general but do you guys actually look at lap times?????

The difference between the two over a race distance is small and it’s their contrasting styles which makes the difference from race to race. You all get hung up on this race or that race – At the end of the season they will be fairly equal – I reckon within a race win (25pts) of eachother. Maybe Lewis will come out on top, maybe Jenson but it won’t be a cakewalk for either of them.

12

Liam,

those are facts, and they have no place on this forum in some peoples eyes.

Poor James gets hammered whenever he uses facts to back up things that some dont agree with 🙂

Those that expected Lewis to absolutely wipe the floor with Jenson, are having to find other reasons that it isnt happening (ranging from bias towards the nice guy jenson up to accusations of fiddling with Lewis’s car – absolutely ridiculous that they would jeopardise their chances in the constructors or to try to drive Lewis out).

Its too early to say who will ultimately come out on top. What is certain, is that they will both have good and bad days, and the margin is not massive.

As a fan of both, I am just really happy to see both in a top team and pushing it forward.

13

I apologise if anyone has made this point already, but it’s 2.20am and I don’t want to read 204 posts.
I did not rate Button, he was lucky last year etc etc. I also thought Lewis would destroy him.
I have had to re-evaluate my theory and I give Button huge credit for what he has achieved this year. He has really impressed me.
I will tell you the reasons why.

A driver called Mika, proved in 1998 and 1999 that he could only win with a Newey designed car.
From his debut, to his first gifted win, he done absolutely nothing. He was gifted his 2nd win and with a dominant car, still was nearly beaten by Schumi.
1999, he just about managed to beat Irvine!!
But what was disgraceful was his performance at the Nurburgring, where once he stopped for wets, just drove round all afternoon till he saw a 6th placed Minardi ahead of him. He was never a race driver and he never proved himself anywhere else.

Damon Hill, a brilliant test driver in 1992, and beat Prost convincingly in some races in 1993. Kept the chase up with Schumi in 1994, despite Senna’s fatal accident and the farcical return of Mansell.
1995, let down by car, 1996, WDC.
Now for the interesting bit.

1997 took an Arrows from the back of the grid and nearly won in Hungary, and even his team-mate Diniz qualified high up after all the development.
1998, Jordan went from joke to winning in Spa after Hill’s input. With the impetus, they were in contention for championship glory in 1999 with Frentzen.

One team drivers prove nothing, it takes guts to work elsewhere to prove you werent lucky.
I wonder if Hamilton will ever have those balls to move away from Mclaren??

14

should read:still was nearly beaten by Schumi, not still was beaten by Schumi,

sorry

15

Personally I’ve always rated Button high since his BAR Honda days when he teamed up with Sato and every one knows how smooth his driving style is :-).

The question now is, how high do I rate Button? My answer is no very much so, not at least in the same league as Schumacher, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel.

At the moment Button is trying to prove a point more than he’s being himself, and it’s a good thing for him it’s all working well. I’ve red many people including James expressing their doubt over Button’s skills and I’m surprised all these people are ready to wash away those doubts based on 2 races (These races were beautiful by the way well done Jens :-)). Don’t get me wrong Button deserves all the praise he’s getting but people need to see farther than that, that’s where the answers are.

Personally I can see Button’s weakness already, he doesn’t take it well when Hamilton is faster or even overtaking him, the later forced him to make an early stop in Australia and Malesia. He needs to work on it, as Hamilton is getting used to being beaten and that’s helping him to become a better driver psychologically. One can only image should Hamilton start leading Button in points,

Alonso said in normal races he’d be leading the championship still and I agree with him…

16

Also, it should be remembered that great sportsman are remembered for their style, attitude and ability to entertain as well as results.

At the start of the season everyone was saying the lack of overtaking was a catastrope. Hamilton is almost single handedly changing that. He’s worth his weight in gold to F1.

17

To sum up the feeling of Button sceptics (me included) I think we wont see Button as being one of the best until he wins outright in the dry against Hamilton and pulls off a few exciting moves. Then, maybe we’l be more likely to concede that he is a match for Hamilton. He needs to prove he can do it in any condition first.

Also, I think it is overlooked how much more experience Button has, Hamilton is still still learning. In a year or two’s time he’ll be able to add strategic intelligence to his arsenal, and then he’ll be untouchable.

18

So, to sum up, 2 wins to 0 against his team mate, the lead in the drivers’ championship and out qualifying his team-mate 3 to 1 is basically just a mediocre driver getting lucky???

I think I’ll stick to reading the articles in future.

19

I prefer the guy who overtakes half the field and finishes 1.5 seconds adrift of his team-mate DESPITE having made the wrong decision on tyres rather than Captain Sensible.

20
Michael Prestia

Both Button’s wins this year come down to Pure and Simple LUCK!

21

I hope to see more of these lucky wins while you guys wait for the real wins for the guys you support.

22

It doesn’t change my perception of Button’s driving ability one bit. He has only won in chaotic races, sometimes by sheer luck and sometimes by good judgement. So I will give him the latter, he has good judgement. But he is still a mediocre driver, no more, no less. The season is still too young and it will become obvious once again when we get some more normal races, that he is no match for Lewis at McLaren and certainly not in the league of Alonso, Lewis and Vettel.

And by the way, far and away the most impressive drive in Shanghai was Alonso’s, who made 1 more pitstop than the podium winners and still only finished 12-13 seconds behind. Had he done only 4 stops he would have won … from 17th !

23

HaHa, bitter much ?

24

SAFETY CAR!

25

“Had he done only 4 stops he would have won … from 17th !”

Really? Did you watch the race, or just look at the results on the internet?

After all the drivers had changed onto intermediates and before the safety car came out, Lewis Hamilton was 50 seconds behind Button, whilst Alonso was 70 seconds behind Button.

The safety car removed all of this advantage.

26

I read that Jackie Stewart, who had implied that Jenson had made a mistake joining “Hamilton’s team” when it was announced, went to congratulate him after the win in Melbourne.

Stewart said something to the effect that it had been a drive that Jim Clark and himself (!) would have been proud of.

Interesting that he specifically likened the win to Clark’s style, which Stewart himself has described as “so smooth, he was so clean, he drove with such finesse, he never bullied a racing car…”.

Clearly he sees something in the approach that has now delivered Jenson two races, while all the aggressive, eye-catching stuff was going on behind him.

27

Too many people have said that Button only got the World Championship last year because the Brawn stood out from the rest. It is one thing to have a fast car, but it takes a good driver to get the best out of it. It takes an even better driver to get results out of a car that is maybe not ast fast as others. I very much hope that Button can now go on to achieve back to back championships!

28

I agree, Button has been pretty impressive in these last 3 races. It will be interesting to see how he goes when everything is normal but kudos to him.

He may not be outright fastest but he is definitley someone who seizes his oppurtunities.

I doubted his wdc last season…but I think these last couple of races justify it.

The rest of the season will be great.

I still back Hamilton to comeout on top though!

29

I am (ironic mode on) really surprised (ironic mode off) not to see anyone here say a word about the way JB overbraked yesterday almost causing a bad accident of MANY cars behind the SC.

I thought this was forbidden since Lewis did the same. Anyway, I must be too naive to believe in equal rules for everyone.

Lewis is a genius, 80% consistent, and JB can only beat him in those 20% of cases where there is either too much rain or strange calls for pits.

The class in this championship is in the hands of Alonso and Hamilton, a bit maybe in those of Vettel.

30

The Button versus Hamilton battle is intriguing. You have the wily old pro and the young bull. Although, I have to say that Hamilton has consistently reminded me of a bull in a china shop this year. Brilliant to watch, but not measured enough.

The new rule set doesn’t suit him either, forcing him to drive measured races in order to conserve tyres. I’ve no doubt he’s still quicker than Button in all conditions, just not consistent enough yet. In the “Normal” races so far he’s nonchalantly put him away (Bahrain and Malaysia), so I do believe Button is looking better than he actually is, but credit where it’s due, he’s done well.

31

LOL at most of these comments – Seriously. Jenson is good and always has been. In the junior formula his record makes Hamilton’s look tame… He outperformed his car massively in F3 and then came to F1 and immediately did well in an average car.

Was it 2004 when he had like the 4th fastest car yet was on the podium every other race?

Just because he had a few bad years in a bad car everyone thinks he’s naff but these are armchair critics who largely don’t know what they’re talking about.

Is he as fast as Lewis? Yeah of course he is… Lewis is way more aggressive and Jenson is smooth – These two contrasting styles will benefit each driver at different times of the year. At the end? They’ll be pretty much level – I’d put my life on it.

32

Let’s wait until we get some more dry races before we jump to conclusions.

Button only won the two rain races because of a better pitstop strategy, not because he was better in the rain.

Hamilton was better in the two dry races.

33

Button has had 4 races in a Mclaren as opposed to Hamilton´s 4th season.

He´s doing ok in a car and team pretty much built around Lewis.

34

Don’t forget Lewis was quick to let everyone know at the launch that he has had a huge say in the design of the 25.

Just wait until JB is FULLY upto speed and at ease in his surroundings.

I can’t wait.

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