Hamilton feeling the heat from Button
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2011   |  4:04 pm GMT  |  392 comments

It was interesting last night after the Indian Grand Prix to hear McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh suggest that part of the reason for Lewis Hamilton being off form and rather niggly with many people he encounters in F1 at the moment is because he isn’t enjoying being beaten by his team mate, Jenson Button.

“Lewis will be feeling under pressure because of the great performances from Jenson at the moment, ” said Whitmarsh.

“Lewis, the great, exciting driver that he is, will not like being beaten by Jenson. I don’t want him to enjoy being beaten by his team-mate. I want him to try to beat Jenson, just as I want Jenson to try to beat Lewis.”

Seasoned human behaviour watchers within F1 will find these comments interesting. Whitmarsh didn’t need to say them, but there comes a point – and perhaps we are there now with Button 38 points clear of Hamilton with a maximum 50 available – when the question of Button’s effect on Hamilton becomes unavoidable.

Button has beaten Hamilton in four of the last six races where both have finished. Many people, including myself, thought Button was making a mistake when he went to McLaren in the winter of 2009, as Hamilton seemed clearly the faster of the two.

He still is, but this season, it’s not made any difference. Button has done a tremendous job; not always that fast in qualifying, but always able to make the most of the McLaren package in race conditions and his three wins and seven podiums from 13 races he has finished speak of a consistency at a high level.

That Hamilton is having a tough year for all sorts of reasons, mainly personal, is undisputed. But the notion that Button is considered inside McLaren to be beating him – rather than picking up better results because Hamilton has been involved in collisions, which have knocked him back – is interesting. And even more interesting is the idea that this is getting to the younger man.

In qualifying Hamilton leads 12-6 (although in India he then had a three place penalty) and has the team’s only pole of the year.

It was not hard to conclude from this weekend that Hamilton can’t wait for this season to end, just as Vettel and Button don’t want it ever to end. Such is sport.

Button went through a tough couple of years in his mid 20s where things weren’t going right for him and the hassles of life as an F1 driver outweighed the pleasures.

After an adolescence spent dedicated to racing karts, Hamilton is doing his growing up in public. We’ve seen it before many times with young sportsmen.

We’ve all been through the disruptive girlfriend phase, we’ve all made mistakes. He is doing through it in the public gaze and without his father by his side as a steadying influence.

Anthony Hamilton pushed his son very hard in the first years in F1 because that’s the way they’d always worked and it had got them to that point. Wanting to be free of that to take his own path, Lewis went his own way and now has no steadying influence to turn to.

Interestingly, Anthony gave an interview to Indian media outlet First Post Sports at the weekend in which he said,

“Sometimes people like to cause you a little bit of grief but at the end of the day we all have problems in our lives. For example, I have been married twice and I have had some really bad days, when I am working but I had issues on my mind. It is the same with Lewis and any other F1 driver in the paddock.”

Also the superiority of the Red Bull/Vettel package has to be bringing him down. Vettel notched up 27 pole positions and 21 wins at the weekend. In the 27 races between Hamilton’s last pole (Korea) and the previous one (Canada 2010) Vettel had pole 19 times.

How to break that cycle? When was the last time McLaren had a dominant car? What are the chances of them having one next season?

This, as much as any notion of Button “beating” him, must be preying on Hamilton’s mind as he contemplates a long break from anything to do with F1 this winter.

* One final note: my take on the collision yesterday between Hamilton and Massa was that, as Massa said, he braked later than Hamilton on the grippy racing line, which is why you see him surge ahead half a car length just before he turns in. He told us yesterday evening he knew that Hamilton was inside before he braked and his mistake therefore was thinking that by braking later he’d got far enough ahead to turn in.

Compare this to the various battles Alonso and Webber have had lately, including in the opening laps on Sunday. Every time they try to pass they give each other room and that’s what Massa should have done in this incident. To turn in as he did, he knew that a collision was almost certain and that’s why he got a penalty.

Alonso and Webber respect each other and therefore do not collide. You can fill in the gaps for yourself.

Featured Video
Sign up for Jenson’s Triathlon today!
Featured News in mclaren
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

An interesting graph on comparison between Button and Hamilton in F1 2011



Take a long look at Lewis’ year with Fernando Alonso. We may need to shift the blame off of the Spaniard and place it on the driver who only “plays nice”, when everything is going his way.


Withmarsh works for the team, and Lewis is just part of it. There is always a team before and after each driver stars.

That’s why I think Red Bull will put another star in the cockpit from its academy just to show how great team and trademark they are.

In that scheme, drivers just to focus and do his best to over-perform their teams to become just 1 or 2 of them a true star for the record books, and Jenson is the proof of Lewis’ failure in 2011. So he will have another oportunity while the greed and teams are more and more competitive.


Guys… Enough of all the BS.

Seriously, I have utmost respect to every F1 driver out there. A capable car, a formidable strategy, spot on setup and the right frame of mind from the driver can make the difference.

If every F1 driver out there, is given a chance to drive the current Vettel’s car, barring a few setup modifications and driving style changes, there would very less to choose.

See the Torro Rosso cars, the cars are much better now and the drivers are driving the ass off it, constantly into Q3 and the points.

In my opinion, Drivers once they sit in the cockpit, tend to shut themselves off from the outside world. But, the only thing that makes them take undue risks (as in going above the limits of the car or get into an accident) is the desperation to reach their goal.


I think Hamilton would destroy Vettel on the track in the same car, both in qualifying and in the race. Same with Alonso and Schumacher against Vettel in the same car.


Vet vs Young-gun

Lauda – Prost

Prost – Senna

and now

Button – Hamilton


While the message was clearly that McLaren do think Button is doing a better job than Hamilton this year, I thought the more interesting bit was actually a bit that Whitmarsh tried to talk over.

He said something along the lines of “When we hired Button, we didn’t really think he would be able to do this”. Or, he was going to, but corrected himself immediately after he caught himself saying “we” and changed the line to “not mane people”.

So not even McLaren thought they were doing anything other than hire another wingman for Hamilton, unless I’m being a bit too cynical?


Yes, I picked up on this too!


He also said on BBC that they were in for three exciting years with Button


Button is having his best year and yet he is only 38 ahead of Hamilton (who says he is having his worst)!!!

I think all this hysteria about Button just shows the level ‘success perception’ has sunk to in the UK. That’s UK never managed to produce great sports men and women in the modern era. and that’s why Ham doesn’t sound and acts like the usual English sportsman, happy with 2nd place… & that’s why the media dislike him. They want him to always be happy & smile even when he failed. shocking attitude.


Totally agree with you. Hamilton is never happy if he is not winning and I like this type of driver. I also like Casey Stoner because of the same reasons.


above post should read as follow:

Button is having his best year and yet he is only 38 ahead of Hamilton (who says he is having his worst)!!!

I think all this hysteria about Button just shows the level ‘success perception’ has sunk to in the UK. That’s why the UK never managed to produce great sports men and women in the modern era. and that’s why Ham doesn’t sound and acts like the usual English sportsman, he is not happy with 2nd place… & that’s why the media dislike him. They want him to always be happy & smile even when he failed. shocking attitude.


Good God!! 260+ comments on why Lewis (who is clearly not performing at this best) is 38 points behind Jenson (who is clearly having an excellent season – possibly over performing). I would suggest that the more interesting/illuminating focus should be on difference in points between the drivers of cars number 1 & 2.


“over performing”? what does that even mean?

are you suggesting JB’s doing things he’s not capable of?


No, and I think I qualified it, but I think it’s generally accepted that he is having a very good season. So in some sense it can be said that he is “over performing”, but that does not take away from what he has and is doing. My point is Lewis is not performing to his normally accepted standard, whereas Jenson is, and maybe beyond that, so the fact that Jenson is ahead on points is hardly surprising.


Absolutely, as I’ve commented above. The reason the Hamilton question is interesting, of course, is that we know just ow quick he is, and so for him to be beaten for a run of races is something out of the ordinary.

In contrast, Vettel’s beating of Webber has become ordinary.


The difference between Lewis and Jenson:

Lewis is happy when he beats Sebastian.

Jenson is just happy to beat Lewis.


What is that opinion based on, or did it just come out of your own head?


Just an FYI- Vettel is self managed and he manages fine. (I know his dad is around, but nothing too OTT).


Exactly, all this talk about management issues hindering him but it hasnt exactly held Vettel back


Well isnt it abit silly to turn into something, respect it or not, if its there your gonna hit it xD

and the rear tyres are weaker,and any there life is mostly down to physical wear, so any wheelslip or scrub is bad. so rotating the car from the rear isnt a good idea.

and modern endurance racing is more flat out than f1 is now :/


As Martin Brundle put it recently, Button is the only person hanging onto Vettel right now, although it was obvious he didn’t have the outright pace to challenge for the win in India, there was not much in it as they crossed the line. Lewis on the other hand was around 60 seconds further back. That equates to 1 lap per second and although Jenson wasn’t actually one second a lap faster than Lewis he did put in a flurry of fastest laps, something Lewis didn’t achieve.

Button’s current success has nothing to do with Lewis’s struggles. Lewis’s position relative to Button might have something to do with Lewis’s struggles. But Jenson is up their challenging all on his own talent.

Everyone without a doubt, doubted Button’s move to Mclaren. Everyone was wrong.

As for Lewis, I believe it’s more complex than saying it is this one thing or that one thing. He’s probably overwhelmed with a lot of tiny details that he’s struggling to manage and that his manage team should but are not helping with so that he can concentrate on his job. He is also very young and he’s also on a downward slope after his glorious burst into F1. Not many F1 drivers get the chances he had. As someone already stated, the likes of Button Alonso and Schumacher had more humble beginnings and built their careers upwards, Hamiltons was bespoke.

He needs to reinvent himself.


A thought on this Benson v Hamilton debate, largely mirroring what James Saudi in his article.

Hamilton is the faster of the two, particularly over a single lap, Button is the more consistent and considered driver, thus sometimes allowing him to finish ahead of Hamilton in the races. In any event, Button can also show excellent pace, sometimes matching his teammate, who however on his day is the faster.

That is written from the perspective of a long term Button fun, though I also admire Hamilton in the same way I do Alonso for example. But, as alluded to by James in his article, it is what I imagine the paddock’s view to be.

Therefore, looking at the season, whilst Button is beating Hamilton in terms of points, I don’t think it is fair to say that Button is now faster than Hamilton.Rather, Button has upper his game, particularly in the consistency stakes, an likewise Hamilton has reduced his, again in the consistency stakes.

Case in point the Indian GP. Hamilton is faster in qualifying, having topped second practice, and outqqualifies Button. However three place grid penalty ensures tone is set for another compromised race, ultimately ending in frustration.

To be clear, Button has obviously operated on a very high level this season, particularly regarding speed. But my view is that Hamilton is still the outright fastest.

And I am a die-hard Button fan. Just feeling like Hamilton, arguably one of our country’s most talented sportsmen, needs a bit of fair comment applied to hid current predicament.


Apologies for repeated typos, written on phone


I’ve been a fan of Button’s since he stuck a Renault powered F3 car on pole at Thruxton for his debut race in the category. People have been seriously underestimating Jenson for a long time, even after a title and quite a few spectacular drives.

I think that Hamilton and Button have done a good job of establishing over the last 2 seasons that Lewis has a 1 lap pace advantage of about 2 tenths, and that in race conditions there’s absolutley nothing in it.

Its a fact that no driver likes being beaten by their team mate and I’ve heard it said that it took Jenson a few months early last year to come to terms with Hamilton’s pace, largely because he was a world champion and is comfortable in the knowledge that that will never change. What I think we’re seeing with Lewis is a combination of factors, some of them to do with his personal life some of them with his frustrations at not being able to challenge for the title this year, some of them at the mistakes McLaren have made operationally and stratigically.

Lewis is still growing but I have no doubt that he’ll come back again next year and blow us all away again, just as I dont doubt that Button will still be there gowing toe-to-toe with him and showing that he his one of the best drivers out there, again.

As for the tyres and stuff, I dont think thats been a factor, the only driver that I can say has really had trouble with them is Webber.


Lewis can still be a F1 legend. There’s no need to break records.

e.g. Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna, …

I hope he gets back to enjoying racing.


So he has girlfriend issues? Thats no excuse for an F1 driver not driving his maximum in a race.

I remember Schumacher driving in San marino and winning the race just hours after his mother had died. Just showed the mental resolve of a 7 time WC.

Something that an upcoming 1 time WC star ‘who still needs to learn a lot’, before he can be considered a great in F1.


I don’t think we have seen and heard all about what happens internally at McLaren. There are ALWAYS undercurrents in companies and I expect McLaren is no exception. Let’s not forget Whitmarsh has a vested interest in seeing Button succeed, and I have noted that he is more animated when Button wins rather than Hamilton. Things are changing next year, but the one thing I don’t expect to change is Red Bull dominance for the simple reason the McLaren aero team are not up to the task. The bottom line is that Adrian Newey knows what he is doing whereas Mclaren are merely stabbing at ideas. Hamilton started well enough in the first half of the year (after 10 races) with Button still trailing in the points, however after the twelve race Button edged in front. I suggest the dip in form is probably more to do with the breakup of his relationship than anything else. Button of course probably realised it was an opportunity to beat Hamilton while he was emotionally distraught.


LH and Massa need to swap seats it will realign the space time continuum
It will help both their careers and would help F1 in general 🙂


Well said James, racing in public growing up in private…

The accident between Hamilton/Massa:

It´s all very simular to Jerez 97: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB3_UUyzEZQ

The difference is Villeneuve was past Schumis front wheels and coming in faster, almost to fast, Hamilton was not past Massas.

Even being a hardcore Schumi fan it still funny hearing Martin saying: that didn´t work my friend…

The bottom line is: why is not the entire world going mad, stripping Massa from his points and disqualifying him from the 2011 championshop???


The H Factor


When you are as fast as Hamilton is, you don’t need to worry about anything… everything else becomes trivial and temporary when you have speed as your primal weapon. I’m sure Hamilton will sort out these trivial issues and when he does he’ll be unstoppable, but when he does become unstoppable he should not think of himself as Lord Falkland and start disrespecting his fellow competitors which he has done so in the past.

I think he will be hard to beat next year, car for driver like Alonso, Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton is secondary, you put them up in any car they’ll do things in it where others can only dream of.

So, Hamilton, sort out your trivial issues and everything will fall in its place 🙂


Really interesting that both Lewis and Massa are two drivers under pressure and both being hammered by their team mates.

Personally i think Lewis needs to stop being so miserable and start being professional. Everyone has off track issues but the best sportstars somehow manage to put that aside and focus on their job at hand. I think this shows a particular weakness in the McLaren management that they have allowed this to fester away. I wonder if Ron Dennis would have allowed this…

Look we can use all the superlatives about Lewis, he is a World Champion and an exciting talent but he desperately needs to sort his off track situation out. Im particularly sick of this Dr Phil attitude and getting everyone to feel sorry for him. Lewis cuts a sorry figure at the moment and in my view he needs to cut that out. He is letting all his competitors know he is vunerable and especially his team mate.


You are completely right about Ron Dennis and his particular managment on Lewis Hamilton. A person who was able to vary the principle of “equality” after Hamilton’s public complain in a press conference saying he was the number two, he would never let Lewis suffered a season like the present. If your main worry is the 2008 World Champion then Ron Dennis is your man.


This keeps going round my head,

All the money invested to try to win, all the man-hours put into building a car to go racing with, all the bigging yourself up as the best driver in the world…

I’m not really surprised Hamilton is apologizing,so he should, it boils down to to one man to finish the job off at the race track, the job you are paid very well to do.

The weak link you don’t need and can’t account for is your driver having emotional issues, Hamilton must feel this weight on his shoulders and when he looks back in a few years he’ll feel silly for wasting some good opportunities this year.

I don’t think it has much to do with button.

It’s deeper than that, a few races ago I would have questioned if Hamilton was safe to go racing.

Someone needs to shake home and tell him “there’s more pussycat dolls in the litter box, go get’em boy”

He’ll bounce back and win the title again, but its a fascinating look into the mental state of a f1 driver, when stuff starts going wrong its hard to regain your footing.


I know this is off-topic for this thread, but how must Webber’s mental state be? He’s been utterly crushed by his team-mate this season, and to be in that car and not to have taken a single win borders on the humiliating.

Still 2 races to go to rectify that, of course.


I Agree. It’s should be getting at least as much attention as the battle between the mclaren boys or Massa and Lewis’s on track comings together.


“Alonso and Webber respect each other and therefore do not collide. You can fill in the gaps for yourself.”

It’s not correct.

It’s not a question of “respect”. It’s a question of inteligence in race. Both Hamilton and Massa are not top of the class in this matter, “therefore” I rated lower than other drivers considering an entire season.

Alonso, Schumacher, Vettel, Checo Pérez, Button, Alguersuari and Kovalainen (Yes, the Finnish with no options in 2008) I rated higher in a full season.

Of course, the drivers named would need the same resources as Hamilton had from his F1 entrance.

– Competitive car

– Full support of your team (For Exemp. The oppossite with Ron Dennis & Alonso or Massa & Schumacher-Todt or even Webber & Marko)

F1 is not only to be fast, F1 is not only to be fast, F1 is not only to be fast.


For me both Mclaren drivers seem to be highlighting the other’s weaknesses – a bit like Alonso and Hamilton in 2007 – under the current regs, Vettel and Alonso reign supreme.


If Hamilton is doing his growing up in public … what about Vettel?!


He is racing in public, growing up in private, because he keeps out of the spotlight.

Mentally he’s 24 going on 34 anyway


But James, the media won’t let Lewis grow up in private will they? They just can’t get enough of him. Why not leave the lad alone.


like 🙂


Perhaps therein lies the answer to Lewis’s problems.

Vettel is perhaps showing that if you want to be the best out there, it has to be your all encompassing desire. His low key private life, combined with all the stories relating to him being the first to arrive and the last to leave the paddock etc. show what it takes to be No.1.

He really is starting to remind me more and more of Schumi. People will debate as to whether Schumi has lost the speed, but there can be no question as to the commitment and desire to still do all he can to win is still there.

Lewis has to perhaps decide if he wants to appear on E-Entertainment TV more often or perhaps spend more time perfecting his F1 game.


Well said, when your manager is Simon Fuller you are playing the fame game with the desire to become a brand and wanting to hang out with your celebrity friends.

Vettel is playing the racing game, most poles, fastest laps, laps leading, most wins and eventually most world championships. All you do is to aim for those goals.

If you are in F1 what do you want and realistically can you have both?

Probably not.

I think Lewis realises this and his plan for no distractions next season points that way but Simon Fuller and co are still there, surely a major distraction in itself.

I think we should also mention this statement from Lewis, slightly disturbing and maybe an indication of his state of mind, hope these words don’t come back and haunt us one day;

Hamilton told journalists ahead of the inaugural F1 event at Buddh International Circuit, “But you have got to do what you do because you love it. It is a sacrifice and a risk that we all take. No one wants to be in those situations but, for me, if I was to pass away, I cannot imagine a better way, personally. I have always said if I was going to go, then in a racing car would be the way to do it. It is what I love.”



When you have a car that is at least .5 second faster than everyone else and can get all the pole positions, wins and fastest laps you want it’s easy to have an inner calm because you are achieving everything you wanted to.

When Vettel was being challenged by Webber last year we saw a different person, example – Turkey.

On a different note I’m amazed that Whitmarsh has said this in public, there is no doubt that Button has been the better more consistent driver this year but there’s no need for Whitmarsh to rub Hamilton’s nose in it by implying he has been mentally cracked by his team mate.

Top Tags