F1 Winter Break
Hamilton feeling the heat from Button
McLaren Honda
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.

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It wld interesting 2ve informed opinion as to the effect the tyre rules/changes ve contributed to Button's performance.


Mark Webber v Seb Vettel is another example.

Last year these two were neck to neck. This year's tyres ain't helping Webber's aggressive style.


Seems to me like it would be best to have tyres that are very capable of lasting at least half the race -- then we would see them coming in at half distance to change tyres and the rest of the time they would be going hell for leather without worrying about conserving tyres.


They wasn't neck and Neck, it was down to poor reliability on Vettel's car, and also vettel was racing at Barcelona and Monaco last year with a cracked chassis, other than that Vettel would have creamed Webber just like this year and in 2009, and the same will happen next year, the boy is the best in the world.


Vettel and Webber were not neck and neck last season the difference was the redbull reliability if it was bulletproof like this year vettel would have won the title earlier than he did!


I agree! Because of the Pirelli tyres, drivers are unable to push as hard as they used to. Drivers like Webber, Hamilton and Alonso are very quick drivers when they really push.

Now, if they are attack too early, they are penalised because it wrecks their tyres. So what do we see? We see more tyre management than acutally "to the limits" racing - which is what Hamilton is good at. We see drivers cruising around, maintaining a certain gap. That to me a processional racing! Yes, they get one shot at pushing, usually, at the end of the stints, just before a pitstop, but then the rival team sees the fast laptimes and quickly pull in for the undercut. Thus, options for overtaking decreases over time once teams know how to "manage" the tyres.

That's why we have seen some glorious races at the beginning of the year. In the second half of the year however, we have seen less overtaking amongst the top drivers (starts not included). Perhaps you can confirm this James?

I believe the Pirelli tyres have taken away the chances for racers like Hamilton and Alonso to keep pushing 100% for the entirety of the race. Hamilton isn't allowed to keep pushing because he will wreck his tyres. Is that what F1 fans want?


Many fans have said this and I've put it to some engineers, they say that's not really true. It's not like walking on eggshells. The drivers are still going for it out there, but they have to be mindful of tyre wear, try to keep the wear as even as possible


It's not really true!? - Of course it's true!

Drivers have to be mindful of how much energy they put through the tyres otherwise they wear them out rapidly particularly the supersoft. The point is these tyres will not take sustained high energy levels and well they know it! What rot!


I remember Hamilton commenting some time, perhaps this year, that the tyres had held on less and less every year since he'd been in F1.

Do you really think they're out there doing qualifying laps lap after lap? I can't imagine so based on what we've seen.


Going for it? I've seen races where they have to drive to preserve the rubber for 18 laps of a 20 lap stint. I've seen races where they need to pit 8 laps in to the race. All the pundits talk about through every race is how long the comedy tyres will last.

Vettel and Button have got into more than one boring game of cat and mouse towards the end of these races waiting to see whose tyres will fail first rather than eithe rof them actually 'going for it'.

I have no idea whose strengths these destructo tyres play to if anyone's but they surely cannot be 'going for it' like they were on the Bridgestones.

(every time I post this I feel the need to point out that I do realise just how important tyres have always been in F1 before someone points this out, but this season they are pretty all we, the pundits and the drivers talk about - that does not sit well with me)


I think these tyre theories are a load of nonsense and fans making excuses for their favorite drivers.

In fact, there seems to be lesser advantage to conserving tyres these days cos the tyres seem to go off anyway. Also the advantage of new tyres over worn off tyres is really huge it is not possible to run longer even if you conserve tyres. So even if say Jenson has looked after his tyres better than Lewis and is slightly faster at the end of a stint, if Lewis changes to new tyres he would lap significantly faster, forcing Jenson to pit anyway not allowing him to take that much advantage of conserving his tyres. So at most of the races with every few exceptions we have seen tit for tat pitstops from the top drivers rather than alternative strategies.

Hamilton's problems this year have never been with speed, only he has been getting into trouble for one reason or another. Alonso has maximised what he could achieve with this years Ferrari. As far as Webber is concerned, i feel Vettel really is that much better. If Mark's problems are with tyre wear , how does one one explain Seb total domination in qualifying also.


I think that recent rule changes have been greatly to the detriment of Hamilton and, in equal measure, to Button's advantage.

Since Hamilton's championship year in 2008, there has been a clear shift away from sprint racing towards car management:

1) Lack of refuelling

2) Pirelli tyres

3) DRS

Changes 1&2 have moved F1 from being a sprint race towards a car management exercise. Formula One drivers these days only appear to be on the limit for a handful of laps this race. Lap times are getting slower. Degrading tyres and heavy cars mean that it's simply not optimal to drive at the limit any more. Outright speed is always what has distinguished Hamilton.

The introduction of DRS was also bad news for Hamilton, as it massively reduced the value of being able to execute overtakes on-track without relying on push-to-pass. That's not to say that Button is bad at overtaking, though, as he has demonstrated this year. Also, DRS (along with the new tyres) has reduced the importance of qualifying this year as has been well established. This was clearly a strength of his against most of the field, if not Vettel.


to be a successful F1 champion time and time again, you need to be able to drive around issues and have a mechanical empathy - history shows that. Lewis and any other driver should be able to get around any of those points you mention - and point 3, i dont get your point at all.

The tyres have a much higher impact on the way the cars are driven and the way the drivers are able to get past each other this year. If anything KERS to a degree negates the DRS advantage depending hwo its used. If you want to level the playing field, get rid of full DRS use during quali and limited use during the race - make that rule consistent.


My opinion is not informed, but it seems reasonable to assume that these high-degradation Pirelli tyres play to Jenson's strengths.


This is pure myth.


Andy Wallace, surely if Hamilton has had to change his style dramatically as you suggest then this is proof positive that the tyres are a massive factor? His driving style won him a wdc, allowed him to compete with FA in his rookie season and produce some of the greatest wins we've ever seen - why would he chnage it if he was not forced to? And if he has chnaged it then isn;t is reasonable to presume that he has chnaged it from something thta worked to something that does not work as well?


Yes, a myth, based on what we thought we knew before the 2011 season.

Those in the know have stated that Hamilton has changed his style dramatically and that, as others here and elsewhere state, F1 2011 with Pirellis is far more like an endurance race, the drivers are no longer racing as fast as they can, just managing the tyre performance.

This obviously affects different drivers differently.

I do not believe Button is having any detrimental effect on Hamilton, I believe it is his private life and that he is currently suffering mildly from Depression, look at the way he is apologising for things he does not need to, a classic symptom.


That's easy - a lot. This has been a season that has rewarded the more analytical driver like button and frustrated the more aggressive driver like Hamilton. He isn't the only one left wanting this season - just the best. Massa has been grinding his teeth too. Maybe that's why he and Hamilton have been banging away at each other quite a bit this year.




Am I the only one who feels that Button is Whitmarsh's favourite son, perhaps because he signed him? It is ridiculous to suggest that this translates itself to any unfair play on or off the track and I am certainly not doing that. However, you get a sense that Whitmarsh really revels in every Button win, his eyes light up and his smile is as broad as the sun.

If Hamilton feels this way I can see that having a massive effect on him as he strikes me as a fairly insecure guy who needs to be constantly reminded of his greatness.

I'm not sure what Whitmarsh, McLaren or Hamilton gain by Whitmarsh saying this either. If the above supposition is true it will only make matters worse.

I've said before that I think Lewis would have thrived at Ferrari where they are unbendingly supportive to the point of fanaticism to their preferred son (whoever that is at the time) whereas McLaren are much more cold and clinical.

Is there any logic in this supposition James, or am I imagining it?


Button is doing a great job and he does not blame the team when things go wrong. The later is a matter of team play something that is relatively alien to LH - it is usually someone else's fault be that Massa, McLaren team or the stewards and one reason why most other f1 drivers would rather not assist LH in getting on.


I know what you mean but rather than attributing any preferencial personal affection to Button as the reason behind it I would expect it is more down to a sense of personal satisfaction on the part of Whitmarsh that he signed the right guy.

I've heard in the past that Ron Dennis never really rated Button and so Martin may have come in for some flak from him about his new signing so when it all boiled down and Button proved his worth Martin could afford a wry grin and some private thoughts of I told you so.

Also, making comments about the success of one team mate over another may simply be an attempt to rally a response from the driver that is under performing. By response I mean, game raising.


its prob because of late Whitmarsh only gets asked about why Lewis has not performed as well as expectations dictate... its like a broken record. At least when he talks about Jenson there are more interesting things to say...

Its prob a little frustrating for McL as well - they are paying top money for a sportsman, and he needs to be performing regardless of what goes on outside of the cockpit. Hence comments about he wants the drivers to be fired up and motivated, and that if there are issues (e.g. between Lewis and Massa) then they need to man up and sort it out.

Anyway, roll on 2012.... i want to see the 4-5 way battle for the top spot like i was promised at the start of the season!!


I don't think you're imagining it, that all rings true with me. Whitmarsh does seem particularly close to Button, and praises him frequently in interviews even though it's Hamilton who's more in need of the ego-stroking. I don't understand the thinking behind Whitmarsh saying what he's said either.

I suspect if Ron Dennis was still running the team, he would have kept Lewis on track better this season.


The below is from an article by Mark Hughes relating to the MAS/HAM scrap in India. Dear Gods of F1 let it be like this again! Please make it a sport again where drivers are free to compete and the races are not decided from an office somewhere in the paddock complex!

"In the days before stewards could impose stop-go or drive-through penalties, a driver in Hamilton's position would have been perfectly entitled to have tried that move.

But he would then have no cause for complaint if Massa had effectively said: "No, you're not going to intimidate me out of the way with a half-move, one you haven't made stick by getting fully alongside. I'm going to turn in and you'd better get out the way. I'd rather have the accident than have you bully me out of the way in a move you haven't made work."

Under those terms, it would be OK for Hamilton to try it on, OK for Massa to refuse and the resultant accident would be just a racing incident, just what happens sometimes in the game."


It is sad what he is going through. But that doesn't mean he should have a long face in front of the cameras. I have seen other TV footages where he is happy and laughing but then when he is in front of the cameras, he is acting like a victim.

With his demeanour, he has let not only himself down, but the team as well. Everyone is hurting including his fans.

Apart from Button, the other reason is Vettel. Hamilton is upset that a younger driver is beating him and breaking all the records which he should be breaking. In other words, it is jealousy. Statistically, Vettel is now more successful than Hamilton in his short carrier. While Vettel is breaking all kinds of records in F1, Hamilton is trying to set the wrong kind of records.

Hamilton is not the only person who has problems in life and he is not a karting kid anymore. If necessary, he needs to take a good break and then come back as the real Hamilton we all used to know him.

Nothing is going to change until he brings his father back. He is the missing link. The only other option is, for McLaren to bring a Red Bull and Ferrari destroyer next year. But again, McLarens have had the best car for several races this year but the drivers didn’t capitalise.


I dont buy into this "McLaren have the best car but the drivers can't make the most of it" argument. Taking Hamilton as the speed barometer, the car is clearly not quick enough to get on pole regularly, so why should they have won more races? Makes no sense to me.


There's more to having a race winning car than getting pole position. Macca has been close enough to RB on race pace for much of the season.


I think the RBR-Mac difference between qualifying and the race was actually greater last year than this. I mean, in the one race where McLaren scored a pole, the Red Bull was faster in the race. Suzuka might've been another example, as Hamilton should've been contesting that pole but again McLaren screwed up. It seems to me that McLaren haven't been able to build a rear wing that provides sufficient downforce w/o too much drag when in the non-DRS position. That's why the RB was faster in Korea, or Schumacher's Mercedes at Monza.

I would say the only races where the McLaren was the fastest car were Suzuka, Germany, and Canada. They won all three of those.


I am aware of this, but the fact remains that Mclaren have not proved that they have the car to win regularly.


Scott, If you have been listening to post race interviews, there were many occassions where either Martin Whitmarsh or one of the drivers' have admitted that they had the car to win the race or they should have won the race but unfortunately they didn't win. I am simply referring to those occassions.


Fair enough, but it's one thing saying that you have a car to win the race, and another to actually prove it, and it is this that Mclaren have yet to achieve, in my opinion. Lap times may occasionally suggest otherwise, but I maintain that it is more of a case of the superior performance of Red Bull/Vettel, rather than a lack of performance from Mclaren's drivers.



I wouldn't call it jealousy, but a sense of annoyance mixed with frustration. Hamilton cannot but watch how Vettel is writing F1 history. Lewis has got to learn that he cannot change his car and his love life by himself. They are beyond his control. The only thing he can do is smile and believe that one day the dots will connect.

Button has gonne through it before { bad car & relationships }. Remember how the paddock questioned Button's dedication to F1?! He was regarded as a toyboy. But now he has grown into a mature and wise { a bit boring to my liking } racing driver.

In that way Button could be a great mentor to Hamilton. However, I hope Hamilton will keep his sharpness: His Monza battle with Schumacher is one of the highlights of F1 in 2011!


Agreed, there is nothing Lewis can do about a quick Red Bull package. Much like Senna could do nothing against the Williams in '92 or '93, and how he was po'ed beyond belief that Prost vetoed him joining Williams in '93 in his contract.

Well, my pick for best race of the 2011 season would have to be the German GP. Either that, or Canada. But the German GP was dry throughout, and up until the last 4 laps there were three drivers who could've won that race b/c of pit stop timing and tires. Plus there was that great Webber-Hamilton tete-a-tete down the start-finish straight, and later on in turn 2. Then the highlight of that race, Hamilton passing Alonso around the outside of turn 2 after Alonso had jumped him in the pits.

The 10-second clip highlight would have to be Webber passing Alonso into Eau Rouge.


Rob, nice post indeed. I agree. I have been a HAM fan since GP2, I thrill at his raw tallent, aggressive and exciting style. His cockiness and arrognace are just fine by me as well - it's a trademark of the very best. Anyone who tries to tell you that Senna or Schumi were/are not unbelieveably arrogant are living in a dream world.

However, I too am getting a little bored of this 'love me love me i'm vulnerable' attitude he has started to put on for the cameras.

I truly believe that 2012 will be HAM's finest hour or see him ship off to the USA and his star burn out from thereon in.

Man-up Lewis! Admit your mistakes (genuinely, not what you have been doing lately and taking the blame for every on track incident like a wet blanket), reinstate your dad and let's see the fastest driver in the world at the top of his game!


Very good post Wayne.

I also have no problems with arrogance. I´ve worked in stables in Newmarket (sorry for comparing with horses;)) with many great racehorses and guess what: All good horses just as athletes has a certain amount of arrogance. What we dont want to see and whats dangerous is ignorance.

Telling Prost he should run him of the track before the race in Suzuka is what i call ignorance, people are trying to say it wasn´t so bad because Senna warned him...well. Even though i´m a Schumi fan (he won my heart during years 96-99) he´s done some ignorant stuff as well.


I hope your Schumi love took somewhat of a hit after Jerez '97. That was simply awful ... one of the biggest examples of unsporting behaviour seen in any sport.


Trouble is, in the UK the public at large do not generally like cocky, arrogant winners. Rather, they/we prefer gallant, humble loosers. Schumacher would not have been anywhere near as popular in the UK as he was/is in Germany (even if he was British) because of his arrogance and utter self belief. These are qualities to adire in eilte sports people, it contributes to their success and adds colour to their personality and 'story'.

Hamilton does not need to come back next year more 'humble' as was suggested in a previous article, he just needs to come back more focused.


I think the fact is that Lewis is best managed by only his father. Maybe there's no other solution to his performance. The personality Lewis brings to F1 is very similar to the great drivers like Schumacher, Senna & Prost. McLaren is certainly not the only team that can bring the best out of Lewis. Maybe it's time for Lewis to try something different. Maybe he is bored or maybe McLaren isn't managing Lewis well enough. On the other hand, Jenson is predictable driver that takes a bit of excitement out of a race. Having said that JB certainly has better thinking & calm head on his shoulder. That's what makes him consistent & bring better results than his faster team mate.


"The personality Lewis brings to F1 is very similar to the great drivers like Schumacher, Senna & Prost"

This might be a view held in Britain but it's not held anywhere else. In fact, while drivers like Vettel, Button and Alonso are held in high regard, Hamilton is seen as spoilt, a brat and largely over-rated.

Don't let the British media cloud your judgement.


This is a dumb comment. I agree that the British media overhype their heroes, but to say that Hamilton is regarded as over-rated by other non-Brit media is just plain wrong. In the paddock, the general consensus is that the top three drivers are Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel. That is plain fact. That's why you have people like Domenicali or Berger saying that Hamilton is a top driver. To pretend otherwise just marks you out as one of the anti-Lewis crowd, who are just as fanatical as the pro-Lewis crowd.


100% correct Rodger. Overseas media seem to see Lewis as having serious entitlement issue. As well as the fact that he landed into the best car straight away without paying any dues as it where in a lower team.

This is part of the reason why he isn't as popular outside of Britain. I'm not saying he isn't popular, but perhaps not as much as he is in the UK.



Well said Rodger.

And it aint working trying to get symphaty because the girlfriend split either with putting on the sour face infront of the cameras. As said in article there is nothing that can break down a young guy as girlfriend problems but i can asure you we would not be able to keep our jobs if we would perform as he does and expect the world to feel sorry for us.

However Alonso´s personality was not very nice the first couple of seasons, more or less the same as Hamiltons. He´s had to work at that when he came to Ferrari and is now showing up better.


Good post Rob.


2009 was one of the best years in F1 I can remember, the first year that I was genuinely rooting for a particular driver to win the title rather than watching F1 for the spectacle that it is.

I was initially nervous about Button joining Hamilton at McLaren, then all the doom & gloom started about Button not being able to beat Hamilton & that made me root for Jenson even more. I am delighted he's shown Hamilton up this season.

Hamilton had too mush too soon, he expects too much & doesn't appear to get his head around the fact that it's damned hard work to get to the top in F1 - Jenson learned the hard way. This will do Lewis good.

Good on you Jenson, keep it going.


When you and others make the claim that Hamilton had too much too soon and that it takes hard work to reach the top of F1, you make it sound like Hamilton just showed up one day and McLaren gave him in ride. What do you think he was doing all those years climbing the ranks to reach F1? Do you think in those series he was also successful just because he got a free ride?

Hamilton worked just as hard, if not harder, than any of the other drivers currently in F1.

Further, to those saying that Hamilton is underperforming this year because of Button, that seems a bit odd since Hamilton was able to match Alonso in his rookie year, a driver considered even better than Button. Surely if he was prone to cracking, his rookie year would have been the time to do so, especially with all the turmoil that was going on in the team with Ferrari-gate and the fact that there was also the internal feud with Alonso. And yet Hamilton was extremely focused his rookie year, something he's not been given much credit for.

I suspect Hamilton's troubles this year stem from a number of things, but most of all from the pressure he has put on himself. He's in that inevitable catch 22 where he's had a couple of bad races and so he tries harder to recover and trying harder actually makes it worse.

The primary difference between Hamilton and Button, which McLaren's Jonathan Neale pointed out, is that Hamilton is able to immediately find the limits of the car and get the most out of it. Whereas Button needs to find the perfect balance. But the down side there is that given a less than perfect car, Hamilton will try to overcompensate for the short comings of the car, which then increases the likelihood of errors. Button will readily accept the car he has, but in doing so he actually gets a better result because the race eventually comes to him. Which is why you won't see Button making any risky passes. Hamilton, thinking he has to push the car, is more willing to take such chances, and invariable the odds will work against him.

This is precisely why Hamilton does a much better job at qualifying than Button. Hamilton's technique works very well for a qualifying lap but isn't always ideal over the course of a race.


"True, Lewis had a faster car, but he also had Alonso (a two-time, Schumi-beating world champion) as his team mate, and he beat him (albeit by the narrowest of margins). In his first season, Jenson was getting beaten by Ralf Schumacher and then destroyed by Fisichella in year two. Lewis demonstrated he was worthy of a top tier team in his early years, Jenson didn’t."

Jenson came into F1 at the age of 20 from one year in the F3 national class and having struggled for funding his whole career and rarely having top flight equipment. Inexperience with set up coupled with poor machinery meant he struggled in the early years but you're wrong about 2000. It is generally accepted that errors are made in the rookie season but on pace Jenson was often quicker than if not matching Schumacher. Melbourne 2000 Jenson qualifies at the back due to car problems yet is running comfortably in 4th in the race until an engine failure takes him out. Hamilton fans are always deliberatly ignorant of the details.

Lewis came into F1 at 21 after having Mclaren buy him seats in all the top teams right the way up to GP2 and having access to the MTC and all it had to offer in order to prepare him for F1.

Jenson came up through the hard knock route, Lewis floated along on a bed of feathers and straight into a title winning Mclaren. Hardly a fair comparison you make!!

All this considered, Jenson grabbed the WDC with both hands at his first opportunity whilst under incredible pressure from the mighty Red Bull and resurgent Mclarens and Ferraris. All with a car that remained virually unchanged all year due to zero funding.

Lewis waltzes in and chucks the WDC away in his first attempt in the fastest car out there and then limps to the title in 2008 again whilst in the fastest car and only having Massa to contend with all year.

You can make excuses for this that and the other but I think at the end of the day everyone has bigged up Lewis his whole life and he's been handed golden opportunity after golden opportunity and when the mop don't flop right he doesn't know what to do. He believed his own hype and the fact that someone can come along, knuckle down and figure out a way to beat him despite being a poorer qualifier has got him stumped. He's on the ropes.

Lewis is far from the complete driver, I'm not saying he never will be but at the moment he isn't, Jenson is in his prime and enjoying it, Lewis has that to look forward to but only after a few years of refining his craft and realising success in F1 is not down to a personal sense of entitlement.


In fact the more guys like you write madness like 'he chucked away the title in his first year' - this about a rookie up against the best driver in F1 as a team mate - the more I realise just how good an on-song Hamilton is if he prompts such garbage to be written about him. This is a curse that follows the best in almost every wrold-wide sport. You just prove the rule in the standard, dull way.


Utter rot. Lewis was handed two golden opportunities in F1, his rookie season and the following year. He lost out having been competitive to Alonso in his first year and then took the next available opportunity. You are deliberately exaggerating the ‘mighty RBR and resurgent McLaren’s during Buttons WDC year’ – Buttons main competition for his WDC was Reubens and a newly minted Seb. Not quite the same as taking on Alonso and Raikonnen is it? Oh, and when Lewis did take his opportunity he was not driving the out and out fastest car like the subsequent RBR's and Brawns, rather his car was the equal of the Ferrari being piloted by Kimi and Massa (both drivers with much more experience).

Since then Hamilton’s Mclaren has been a dog at the start of the year and only come good when it was pretty much too late, or at the point where the pressure and frustration has built to the point where it boils over. Hamilton went from a wdc in 2008 to a disgrace of a car in 2009 – compare this with Seb’s journey from a great car last year to a great car this year. The difference in psychological effect is mammoth and profound, Lewis having not had the chance to defend his wdc, not even a sniff of a chance mind.

Lewis Hamilton is an incredible driver with personal and personality frailties. If the McLaren is on a par with RBR and Ferrari (and I mean truly on a par) and his head is in the right place, we will see what the fastest (if not the most complete) driver in the world is capable of in 2012.


Hamilton had too mush too soon

Really? How old was Hamilton when starting F1, compared with Button? How much prior racing and in which series did they compete before getting their F1 drives?


I think Dan was probably referring to having too much too soon in F1 itself. JB struggled for years before he found Brawn while LH walked straight into Macca.


[Mod} To call any F1 driver lucky is an insult [mod] These guys have worked all their lives for their shot and deserve whatever they can achieve when that time comes.

For one, Lewis was not in the dominent/fastest car when he won his wdc. Fastest/dominent is what we have seen from RBR abnd Brawn in recent years. How dare you write of as lucky the achievements of a driver in his second year in F1, having gone through his rookie season as instantly competitive with a double wdc?

Two, you obviosuly have no idea what car JB was in during his earliest years in F1, it was a perfectly competitive car.

Three, let us consider 2009 when McLaren had a total dog of a car that was +1 second off the pace - all those blathering on about Lewis needing a stint in a dodgy car to toughen him up seem to forget this year entirely (and the start of most seasons since). Many consider this as a great season for Lewis, the way he dealt with it was incredibly mature and reserved after the high of his wdc the year before. Let us not forget that Seb has been able to build on his success of last year in the fastest car of all this year. Lewis went from an increible high in 2008 to a disasterous low in 2009.

Lewis has GRADUALLY lost the faith with McLaren's ability to give him a fast car out of the box, this did not happen overnight! Even this year the McLaren was awful until they copied the RBR exhasut set-up.



Lewis needs a stint in a Virgin or HRT etc to toughen him up psychologically. It must be challenging going from a very quick car in his first years (2007, 2008) to a dog (2009) to quick but not quite quick enough car (2010 2011). His early good fortune means he never developed the mental toughness to deal with adversity. He responds by becoming surly and aggressive, leading to one incident after another which soon becomes a viscious spiral. Blame the girlfriend all you like, but I suggest that split came as a result of his bad mood, not the other way round


In his first season, Button was given a seat in a Williams, not a title contending car at the time but definitely a top 4 team. He had it better than most.

True, Lewis had a faster car, but he also had Alonso (a two-time, Schumi-beating world champion) as his team mate, and he beat him (albeit by the narrowest of margins). In his first season, Jenson was getting beaten by Ralf Schumacher and then destroyed by Fisichella in year two. Lewis demonstrated he was worthy of a top tier team in his early years, Jenson didn't.


Spot on, JB had a few dodgy early seasons in a Benetton/Renault, a few solid ones in the BAR and a couple of awful seasons in a badly painted Honda. In Lewis's first year in 2007 the McLaren was undoubtedly the most competitive car and he & Alonso allowed Raikkonen to snatch the title from under their squabbling noses (hilarious to watch a bemused Raikkonen on the Brazil winners step going "what the hell happened to you 2???).

In 2008 the McLaren was also probably the most competitive car, but Raikkonen wasn't interested, Massa dropped the ball too much & I personally think Lewis was lucky to get that one.

Lewis needs to learn that he isn't always going to have the fastest car, he needs to put his bottom lip back in & get on with it like the rest of them do. Stick him in an HRT, then he'll realise how hard F1 can be...


I like Jenson but honestly, 2009 was a joke.


Justin Beiber, a few months before the start of the 2009 season Button was considering the possibility of never racing in F1 again then he's suddenly handed a quick car. He and the team knew the results had to come early on in the season because there was no money to develop the car, once the other teams were on song it was a case of fighting a rear guard action and it has to be said that it was a big ask of a driver that had never been in title contention before.

The first opportunity he had to win the WDC he took successfully. It was a great WDC win despite what the detractors say. Button has plenty of haters, usually Hamilton fans who like to remember Button having it easy with the BGP001 but its total nonsense. The Red bulls were right with Brawn from the start of the season. Anybody remember Vettel chasing Button down at Melbourne before having a spin in turn 4?

The Red Bulls could have won several races early in the season but for driver/operational errors, Jenson just kept his head better in the early part of the season. The BGP001 advantage is commonly perceived as being greater than it actually was, the Red Bull advantage was far greater last year but Vettel never lead the championship until the last race whereas JB lead from start to finish because save for the mid season wobble, he kept his head whilst all around were losing theirs.


JB himself says he needs to strengthen his qualy performance. He was sayig it in his wdc year and he is still saying it this year, but I guess you know better huh?


No, the qualifying results were there when the car was capable of it but as the brawn was overtaken on pace by Red bull the team had to conentrate on good race set up to guarantee points finishes knowing JB always gets the car home and is one of the best overtakers in the business.


That Brawn would have been even more dominent were it not for JB's usual lack of qualy pace.


Saying Jenson was the "double diffuser champion" doesn't tell the true story of the races Jenson won.

-Brawn were the dominant team in Australia and Malaysia, Jenson duly won those races (only half points for Malaysia). The next race in China was wet, and Red Bull dominated.

-In Bahrain, Button qualifies fourth behind Vettel and the Toyotas. In the race, Button gets a great start, passing Vettel off the line and then Hamilton in the race. He wins the race when the Toyotas implode, Vettel is second.

-In Spain, Button steals pole from Vettel with a last gasp lap. In the race, Vettel is held up by Massa all race and can't challenge the Brawns. Button wins again.

-Monaco, very similar story. Last gasp pole lap beats Vettel and sets up victory, Vettel is passed off the line by Rubens and can't recover.

-In Turkey, Vettel makes a mistake on lap one, letting Jenson past and ensuring he can't use the pace of his car (he was on a 3 stop strategy compared to Jenson's 2 stop). Jenson wins again somewhat against the odds.

After that Brawn stopped developing the car and Button lost his way, but they'd done more than enough to seal the title. Bear in mind this was under the old scoring system, under the new system (which rewards race wins more) Jenson would have won the title more comfortably.

tl;dr After the first two races, Jenson had to work for every victory, and he made the difference when Vettel and Rubens couldn't. He won the title fair and square.


Ridiculous! The double diffuser was not exclusive to BrawnGP, several other teams showed up with the same interpretation (including Williams)

Fact is, Brawn built the best car and Jensen drove it the quickest.


The results do not bear out what RBR might think. 16 poles from 17 is all you need to know, to know that the RB7 is more dominant than the RB6.

Even if Vettel didn't have reliability issues in Australia and Korea last year, he'd be at 306 pts. He's far past that this year. With two races still to go, he's 118 pts up from the whole of last season. Webber also is very close to his 2010 total, being 21 pts down at the moment. Hard to argue with those figures in hand that the RB7 isn't more dominant than the RB6.


According to Red Bull Racing, the 2010 RBR was more dominant than the current RBR. I think is is Vettel who is making all the difference this year.


I would agree with that. Also reliability, which wasn't there last year and Vettel has stopped making mistakes as some of us predicted. I had a chat with him about that after the post quali unilateral TV interview on Saturday. He's very interesting on how proving to yourself you can do it with 1st title gives you confidence and calms you down. You see what you need to do and you set your sights on doing it again. Very effective this year


It's worth mentioning that vettel and the current spec RBR is FAR more dominant than Jensens Brawn ever was.

Brawn-Mercedes 2009: 8 Wins/5 Pole

RedBull Renault 2011: 11 Wins/16 Pole


Why? the driver with the most points and most race wins won the WDC in 2009!


Have to disagree with that entirely. Go back and look at the qualifying and fastest laps from 2009. You'll see that Button's advantage was never more than about half a second and was practically gone by the time they reached Spain.

Vettel's car advantage this year has been much greater. It's only laziness that makes people say Button had it easier in 2009.


K: "With no disrespect to Jenson (I rather like him actually), 2009 champ win was more of a car performance than driver ability."


Winning the world championship is always about a winning *package* - car, driver and team. I guarantee that neither you nor I could have won the world championship in 2009, 2010 or 2011 no matter how good the car and team. Apparently neither could Rubens Barichello in 2009 or Mark Weber in 2010-11.


Dont forget the Red Bull and McLaren caught them up second half of the season


So was 2008 wasn't it?


With no disrespect to Jenson (I rather like him actually), 2009 champ win was more of a car performance than driver ability.


I agree with you. I have no problem about Button winning that year. The joke was the FIA decision to allow the diffuser. Thank god Max Mosley is no longer FIA president.


Good summary James. I fear that Whitmarsh's comments are going to make people think that this is the only reason Hamilton is struggling - but as you pointed out, he has many reasons this season for not performing well and for feeling under pressure.

Personally, of all the reasons, I think it is the lack of a proper manager that is the biggest one. Although you have to respect his reasons for not wanting his father as his manager (due to the effect that has on their own relationship outside of F1) it seems to me he needed that to focus him.


Hmmm, all this talk of Lewis struggling without a manager, Vettel doesnt have one and it hasn't exactly slowed him down has it?


You're comparing apples and oranges there John. Vettel is not Hamilton, just as Hamilton is not Massa. Different people need different things around them to perform at their best.

Compare Hamilton now, to Hamilton in 2007, and 2008. Even 2009, once they got the car sorted. Hamilton has said himself - next year, he cuts out the distractions. That's what I think his father did for him as manager - he cut the distractions and he focused him on racing.

A manager who doesn't turn up to races, let alone a manager who is part of the celebrity circus like SImon Fuller, is clearly not going to be able to do that. If anything, I'd suspect Simon Fullers management is adding distractions as he tries to create a brand, rather than focusing him on racing.


I put it down to the regulations this year, not just for Lewis, but especially Mark, (maybe Felipe), and possibly others we haven't really noticed.

The behaviour of the tyres has crippled these drivers to the extent that they simply can't compete - Pirelli were mandated to be aggressive with their less durable tyre development but I think it has gone too far. These guys can no longer use their natural driving styles (and the advantages that come with them) which to me is a shame. Witness the success of Button this year - he has simply been fed the perfect car and regulation set up to suit him.


So then make tyres that will better work for Hamilton and Webber so that it becomes a disadvantage for the others... I think your argument is incorrect. Best drivers always shine no matter what the conditions. Everything else is just an excuse.


That is very much the view of people inside F1. The best drivers shine no matter what the configuration of the cars because adaptability is a fundamentally important skill in a racing driver. Nothing stays the same long.

Let's not forget that Hamilton has been very strong this year, his win in Germany as good as any drive he's had in my view. His pole in Korea likewise. There have been lots of front row starts. It's just these occasions when he's made life hard for himself which have let opportunities to score big points and maybe wins get away from him. But Vettel has given very little away this year


Ryan, McLaren have made some errors as a team that have cost both Hamilton and Button. There's no denying that. But you have to admit that Lewis has made mistakes this year that have cost him dearly (not that it would've mattered in terms of the DWC, this was always going to be Vettel's year). And like Wayne, I've seen races where Lewis has just been plain slow, like Japan & India. When I say slow, I mean slow compared to Button, not where the car was slow for both (e.g. in Valencia or Turkey).

I'm sure it's not b/c Lewis has lost his natural speed, but there's something at play. Who knows, it could even be his mechanics bristling at him "laying down the law" at Singapore. I could easily see LH not knowing how to play the politics well within a team, and rubbing some people (that he needs) the wrong way. LH has to know that he can only win in a McLaren, Ferrari or Red Bull, and that the only real option he has is to stick it out with McLaren.


Hi Ryan Eckford, I am a Hamilton fan myself, but even I have to admit that he has let himself and his team down this year. He has been on the receiving end of some almighty blunders in the past from McLaren (one thinks of China early on when he could have arapped up the WDC) but then this is no different to any driver on the grid. The very best drivers' tallent split like this in my opinion:

70% consistently taking the chances that are available to them

30% Making opportunitites for themselves when things around them such as the car and conditions start to go awry.

Hamilton has not been among the very best drivers this season (generally over the full season) as sad as it makes me to say it. There have been a couple of races where he has been plain slow (mistakes not withstanding) and that for me is the real worry as I have never seen that from Hamilton before.


I don't agree with that. It has been Lewis's team which have let him down. McLaren have made really bad mistakes which have affected Lewis badly. These mistakes have exacerbated the problems he has had away from the race track. I believe he is still McLaren's No.1 driver and team leader. In my thinking looking back at all the races, Lewis should be only about 36 points behind Vettel in the championship and comfortably in 2nd spot. I still cannot believe however that many of you involved in Formula 1, commentators and journalists, former drivers and team bosses, current drivers and team bosses, and more importantly everyone at McLaren can't see this is happening. I am 18 years old, turning 19 in December and I live in a small town called Beresfield, which is a short distance west of Newcastle, which is 2-3 hours north of Sydney and I can see this crystal clear. I want to become a sports commentator when I get a little bit older and I feel with the way many people in that industry are doing it at the moment that I could be very successful as a sports commentator.


But weren't we hearing all last year that Schumacher's problems stemmed from him not being used to the tires? And didn't we hear that all season long?


As proof of your point James, you could point to Alonso and Raikkonen's change to Bridgestone tyres in 07. Reportedly this required a big change in their turn-in, but they both did pretty well that year, didn't they?


Yes, after a few months of adapting.


I agree. What I don't understand is why everyone seems so surprised. I remember reading back in Jan./Feb. that the new regulations were going to fall into Button's hands. What I don't like is how the FIA is always trying to "improve the show" with contrived regulations. Just let the drivers do their job and the show will follow. It must drive the money people in the teams crazy every year there is a new rule that changes the concept of F1 racing.


I tend to agree, but I think the effect is also showing up team current driver pairings. Many teams seem to have paired up known overtakers who rely on more aggressive tyre use with smoother more calculating drivers - (hamilton/button),(webber/vettel),(schumi/rosberg),(koby, perez), etc. As the season matures, the smoother drivers are able to offer the teams more flexible race & pit strategies which favors them over their teammate in the race. I think several times this year, its the hard charger that has been on the end of some weird (dubious) tyre or pit calls.

Hopefully Pirelli toughen up their race tyres next yr ; i think high deg/high speed 1 lap quali only tyre would be good for Q3. Hope DRS is dropped. I actually think racing was better and closer last year.


Schumy actually has a very aggressive driving style yet he seems to be getting the best of Rosberg at the moment.


Yes, Schui is one of the most aggressive drivers on the grid. He has performed much better than Rosberg during races. His problem is qualifying.


I also think racing was better and closer last year as the racing was more instinctive and showed off driver talent and speed, rather than the relative car speeds, which has led to total domination by Red Bull. The driver who has been consistently at the top of races where instinct and talent have been the two major components has been....


The race in China has been the only race where the DRS has been placed in the perfect position for the race. Guess who won?


China was a great race, and was the first really exciting race of this season. LH's pass on JB down the start/finish straight was a superb pass, one of the best all year (same machinery). Vettel tried for a two-stopper after being passed by both LH and JB at the start, but it didn't work, although SV did a good job of keeping LH behind for as long as he could on the tires he had.

With both of LH's wins this season, he's had to drive out of his skin to win. He hasn't had any "easy" wins since China 2008; by easy I mean where he's had pole and just been out front most of the time. Even at China '08 he had a ton of pressure on him b/c of the DWC situation.

As it stands now, Vettel is on course to have the most wins from pole in a season. He has 9 from 17. Mansell had 9 from 16 in '92. Only Mansell ('92), Ascari ('52), and now Vettel ('11) have won more than half the races in a season starting from pole (Vettel of course needs another win from pole to do that for the full season). He's on the verge of passing Mansell and Prost on the "pole and win" chart, with only Senna and Schumacher beyond that!

And people still try to make the case that it's not about the car? Get real!


Ade, I didn't say always, I said consistently.

There is a difference.


So what happened to Hamilton in the difficult conditions of Canada, when instinct and talent was needed...oh yeah, he hit the back of the eventual winner and team mate...after also clashing with Webber. His talent this year, sorry to say, has been rash moves resulting in crashes.


Jenson has more overtakes this season than anyone else.

Kind of destroys your theory I think.


Where can one find this stat? I heard that JB was tops, but that was after Canada. I think LH would've made a big comeback in those stats after his Singapore GP.

But like others have said, if you're finding yourself out of your natural position, then of course you will have more overtaking opportunities.


Although there's a school of thought that if Button had qualified better he might not have had to overtake so much.

Vettel's got about the worst overtaking record of the year, but consider where he usually starts from!


I think that's unfair on both Button and Hamilton. I think top drivers are able to cope and adapt to regulation changes. So you're implying Lewis isn't a top driver, which of course isn't the case! I think it's a bit of a myth the whole Hamilton not being able to make his tyres last (unlike perhaps Webber). Lewis's main reasons for his weak season have been poor wheel to wheel racing (something no one would ever have thought of)!

As for Button. I often hear him described as dull but I believe he's had the most overtakes this year, has often moved forward in the race from his grid slot, and has in fact been driven a number of very exciting performances, such as Canada, which was ironically Hamilton-esque

It's like saying Vettel has been dull this year. But if if and Button have been tagged as dull to watch, it's more a result that they're the two drivers who have made the fewest mistakes this year, and simply driven optimum races with the equipment available to them.


Completely agree re: Button. He has been fantastic this year.

The only comment is that his overtakes stat is a little difficult to read into as he has had performances like in Canada where he had 5 visits through the pit, and at one stage was last. The safety car helped him out there but regardless is was a superb drive. But, of course, that Grand Prix would have bumped his overtaking stat up quite nicely, and many of those passes would have been on cars you would expect him to pass.

I bet Vettels stat, for example, isnt as impressive - but when you're getting pole race after race, and then leading from the front, what opportunity do you have to overtake?

I was thinking this throughout the Indian GP re: making places during starts. So someone like Vettel, who is always at the front and has very places he could possible make up when the lights go out, likely has a negative stat in terms of position changes during the opening lap. That isn't to say Vettel is bad at starting, simply that the statistic in question doesn't take into account that even if he gets an excellent start, he can't get any further forward than first. It's perhaps one reason Schumi has such great starts - and Button too to some extent. THey don't seem to qualify well, so the opening lap is an opportunity to make up places by passing the cars they probably should have been in front of in the first place.


Your point is well taken regarding stats. Seb doesn't have the same opportunity to pass other cars like the guys who qualify further down the grid. He does however lap a hell of a lot of cars (thus overtaking). Maybe you could integrate that stat and see how he stacks up 😉

Which driver has lapped the most cars in 2011? No brainer.

Lewis Vs Jenson. Who is the better driver. Jenson, no question. Compare experience at various teams. Compare experience in good, great and rubbish cars. Compare how each conducts himself in the face of adversity. Lewis is faster but not better. He may well be one day but at the moment he's a one trick pony. No fault of his own, he just hasn't be around very long yet. I have to admit that on his day he is the most exciting driver I've ever seen. Comparable to say Hakkinen on his day. I'm not a Lewis basher, I think F1 is a better place with him in it. I just think Jenson is a better all-round package at this time. That's all.


Its been said by many that Lewis is better than Jenson because he can drive around problems and that Jenson needs a perfect car. Well Lewis fanboys Its a myth and Lewis can't match the hype


Jenson has had his detractors for a long time because he has appeared to struggle at times in difficult machinery but you don't get to show what you can really do until you're in a good car. By that I mean a car that is correctly conceived to operate well in all circumstances. Only the top teams can provide this kind of quality to their drivers and this in turn allows the drivers to express themselves more fully behind the wheel. This is why we have seen Jenson able to raise his game since joining Mclaren. Ironing out your own weaknesses is impossible in a car that has lots of problems because its hard to tell if it's you or the car that's making life difficult but in something predictable like an MP4-26 you can begin to work on your technique as the car becomes the known quantity because you know that when you strap in 9 times out of 10 the car will go like you expected. This is why Jenson has managed to get on terms with Lewis, the guy who many expected to put him out to stud.

As the detractors like to say, he certainly is the best No.2 driver in F1. So good in fact that he's 32 points ahead of the de facto No.1 driver at Mclaren in the championship. Not bad for an undeserving 2009 WDC who only won because of the Double Diffuser.


Correct Phil, Jenson wasnt 100% happy with the sent up over the weekened in India, but he was the only driver within sight of Vettel on race day.


Jenson was 100% happy on Saturday morning, but wasn't in qualifying on Saturday afternoon when the tanks were lower on fuel.

Stating that he wasn't happy with the setup over the weekend is simply untrue - he had a bad time in qualifying because the grip he had on Saturday morning disappeared when the fuel load was light.


Wrong - Jenson has admitted that Lewis deals with the car better when the setup isn't perfect. I can't be bothered finding you the quotes but rest assured they are out there.

Despite previous setup issues I think JB was happy with his car on Sunday.

Steven Pritchard

But Button is using his natural style? Tyre rules will never suit all the drivers!


Tyres were an issue in 2007 when Alonso and Raikonen lost Michelin. Kimi still won the championship, while Alonso came (joint) second.


There is no joint second. Alonso finished 3rd on countback. That's why the 2007 season is in the record books as the closest-ever season between 1st and 3rd.


I've also heard Vettel's style compared with Button's (perhaps by James).

I wonder (genuinely) how much there is in this, and I'd like to hear some insiders' opinions if that's possible. Consider that a request, James.


Fact: the cream always floats to the top.


But surely the best drivers adapt to the conditions?


I was talking about it with a friend of mine. Yes, to some extent you're right, but it depends whether you want to best aggressive drivers who push the cars to the limit, or the best guys at tyre management.

When drivers are having to back off in order to make tyres last, you have to question whether making the tyres that fragile was the best decision in terms of motor racing.

Yes, it mixes things up a bit when you get drivers on different stages of tyre wear, but I want to see 24 of the best drivers in the world in the best cars in the world push each other for 60+ laps, not have them back off to conserve tyres so that they dont drop off the cliff.

So I can see some merit in Tom's suggestion that some drivers are affected by the regulations.


I think over the years that the "fastest" driver is not always the "best" driver. At this moment in time, Button is the better driver, as you say maximizing the performance of the package and doing so consistently. Not the most exiting way forward perhaps but the dividend is obvious this year.


Prost vs Senna anyone????


oh please, couldnt we all move on?


Hare vs tortoise?


i know lewis has been terrible this year and jenson has been great but if mclaren have the best car next year i know who i will be putting my money on to win the title and it sure wont be button. every driver goes through bad patches. lewis will be ok and bounce back and deliver great results again.


Hamilton has had his problems this year but all this Jenson=great Lewis=terrible is ridiculous.

There is only 38 points between them with 2 races to go. Lewis in all likelihood will not beat Button but my guess is that there will be no more than 10 or 15 points between them at most. Hamilton can still mathematically come 2nd for all his woes this year.

All the Button fans who think he's had a great year are simply paying Hamilton a big back-handed compliment because in a poor year by his standards he will have more or less MATCHED Button who has apparently been great and much better than Lewis!!??

Hamilton is undeniably in a bad place but he did come 2nd in the last race (after getting pole) and has consistently out qualified Button.

It's definitely all in the head with Hamilton I think. Remember back in 2007 as a rookie with those 8 or 9 podiums in a row. That was a driver with no fear and no baggage - just pure uninhibited first class driving. That is what we need back in 2012!


If not for Buttons 2 retirements due mechanical issues he'd be even further ahead.


"Only" 38 points? 38 points is equivalent to two second places. Considering Seb has been coming first almost every race, Hamilton is effectively 2 races behind Jenson. So it is not really that close. What did u expect. An Alonso-over-Massa or Vettel-over-Webber type domination. He is in a different league compared to those two.Even in his worst year Hamilton wont do that badly.

Both Jenson and Lewis are really really good and have a healthy respect for each other. Mclaren are lucky to have that pairing.


I meant Hamilton is in a different league compared to Massa and Webber.Nobody is going to beat him by double his points however bad a season he has. Even though Hamilton has had his share of troubles this season, beating him by 38 points is no mean achievement and Jenson should be given his due.


I"m not arguing about whether Vettel is in a different league to Hamilton / Button.

38 points is only about 16 points in the old system. Raikkonen overcame more than this in the last two races of 2007 to win the WDC.

Even Alonso is only 25 pts (a win) ahead of Hamilton. Again to reiterate the point when Lewis was on fire in 2007 he and Alonso finished on the same points, now Hamilton is having his-worst-year-in-F1© and he's not that far behind the two-times WDC.

My point is that Vettel is miles ahead but there is only 38 pts between the next four drivers. Hamilton may be at the bottom of those four but he's still in the mix in what many commentators are describing a terrible season.

I predict he will finish higher than fourth which will actually be an improvement on last year!!


In 2010 there was 26 points between Hamilton and Button, so there isn't a huge difference between them at the moment compared to last season. I'm sure everyone thought Button was going to be destroyed by Hamilton last year and he wasn't, it's all cyclical. As is everything in F1. Teams success's come and go. Red Bull will decline, Ferrari and McLaren will come to the fore, it's only a matter of time. But TBH I much prefer Button over Hamilton. Hamilton seems to be too petulant, always hard done by and has an arrogance that doesn't come across as supreme confidence. Button seems more 'normal' if any of these F1 drivers can be classed as that. Go JB.


Let's do a competition - what will the points gap be between them at the end of the season? I'll get a prize and make it official before Abu Dhabi so don't leave an answer here.


I guess you're the same guy who says we won't see how good Vettel really is until he's in a car which is not the best.


Uh well, yeah. Could Vettel ever win the WDC in a car that doesn't win the Constructors championship? I don't believe he could, but we will see. I wonder whether he could do it even if RBR only edged the Constructors, much like Renault in 2005 and 2006 (in both cases, Renault finished less than 1 race win ahead of McLaren in 2005 and Ferrari in 2006). Hamilton achieved the former, and Alonso of course the latter.

Could Vettel win the WDC in a Ferrari this year with Alonso in the Red Bull? No chance! Could he have won more than the one race that Alonso has in the Ferrari this year? Doubtful.

Who knows what will happen ... maybe Vettel will have a great car the rest of his F1 career, in which case he will break Schumacher's record for race wins and all the rest. I don't think it's likely that he will flame out like a J Villeneuve, so he should be in a top three car for most of the rest of his F1 career. Let's see how he fares when he's in the 2nd or 3rd best car.


I'm not sure you guys have taken my drift. I was saying that a champion is right on it whether he has the best car or not. Lewis is not driving like a champion this year, and so it's not at all sure he'll suddenly be better when the car is. Fernando, on the other hand is, and will.


Really? If Hamilton get's his focus back together and all things are equal, would you not bet on Hamilton to come out ahead over the full 2012 season? I'll take that bet my friend, any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

By the way I am a guy who says " Vettel has proven his greatness this year but I still want to see him tested in a sub-par car after the highs of winning back to back WDC. Alonso and Hamilton have both had to exactly that over the last few years"


I think massa is helping to secure his position for next year

slowing down hamilton is clearly better than being fast , helps alonso no end


I think Massa is in real danger of being dropped for next year. Definitely 2012 would be his last season at Ferrari.

I think his turn-in on Hamilton last race might've been the last straw for di Montezemelo. But Massa was only applying the lessons he learned from his tangle with Bourdais in Japan 2008 (i.e. if you turn in, the other guy gets a penalty).

Alonso couldn't care less whether Massa is holding up Hamilton or not, in a season where the DWC was out of sight from race 4.


Is this really a valid point in any way shape or form? Alonso doesn't need help. He just needs a decent car. Ferrari won't care if Alonso loses to Button and Hamilton because the Mclaren is faster than the Ferrari. So you really think Massa is 'slowing down' Hamilton to help Alonso? That is laughable, and Hamilton would still have to deal with Webber before Alonso in this race.


Massa, as a second driver at Ferrari, is there to destroy Hamilton's career. Felipe is aging and he has nothing to lose -- after 2008.

Hamilton need to be very careful, many (most) of the drivers out there don't like him (including Button) Complaining about his driving style ist just an excuse -- give a dog a bad name and hang him.

Jenson is winning because there is nothing to win except beating Hamilton. His only motivation for racing is beating and humilating his team mate. That's why he joind McLaren in the first place. I was in a similar position when I was 7 or 8 years old. LOL


1- Massa is not destroying Hamilton career, he's destroying his own career. Hamilton is also doing a fantastic job at destroying his won career.

2- Its true most drivers don't like him but not because of his driving style but because he kept crashing into them.

3- Jenson is winning because he is at the peak of his career, he's driving a top team car, feel he has nothing to prove to anyone and doesn't crash into his fellow drivers.


Best comment so far Justin!!!


Good analysis James,

I really believe a fully firing Lewis can still beat Jenson, the difference is Jenson seems genuinely happy to be finishing second at the moment but everyone knows that nothing less than victory satisfies Hamilton. Its just a question of whether Lewis can come of this year a stronger.

James, have you heard anything about the rumour of Lewis taking on Mika Hakkinen as a guide of such on Ron Dennis' recommendation?


That could be a good fit, Hakkinen and Hamilton. I think Brundle or Coulthard would be good mentors for him, but they obviously can't do it. Maybe some of the Finnish ice-cold judgement would rub off on Lewis.

Having said that, Mika did have a teammate that was there to assist him, as DC has commented on in the past. The final race in '99 being the best example of it, when DC pitted and came out just ahead of 2nd placed Schumacher, and slowed him down just enough that he couldn't challenge Hakkinen for the lead, which if lost would've given the DWC to Irvine.

Button wouldn't help Hamilton until he was out of the DWC running, which is as it should be. But it begs remembering that Heikki was a decidedly no. 2 in Lewis' DWC year.


If it's true, it's an excellent idea. I'm sure Mika would have a lot of good advice for Lewis.

LH has been psyched out by Jenson. I said this on here at least 4 months ago - and I wasn't the only one. Lewis just can't understand how Jenson is not concerned by mostly being slower in qualy. JB just turns up in the race, and drives off into the distance.

Lewis's mind is not in the right place. His decision making is so poor - again this w/e - that even Whitmarsh has felt the need to say something. This is very significant. Lewis has, for the moment, lost the team.

All he can think of to say is that Felipe makes his car as wide as possible. Well, duh - that's his job. When Senna, Lewis's hero, did that, we were supposed to admire it. Does Lewis still, after all this time, think he has a god-given right to have all the doors opened ? What planet is he on ?

Quick - Mika. He needs you.


If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. Always true.

I think Lewis needs some time and space.

As for his issues with Massa - as I keep saying, nothing wrong with some sub plots and with drivers not liking each other.

Remember all the fun with Alonso and Lewis?

You loved it.


I think Lewis is suffering from the following things:

(1) He employed the wrong management team - he seems to be more concerned about being a celebrity/brand than a racing driver.

(2) He's demotivated w/ McLaren not being able to provide him w/ a car that can consistently challenge at the front, race-in race-out. Whereas Vettel can be more at peace and focus on his driving bec. he knows the team meets him half-way on that aspect.

(3) Jenson Button - He (Button) is just having fun. Don't get me wrong: before '09, he was probably thinking he'd never be world champion, but then Ross Brawn delivered the BGP001. After he won the championship, Jenson's dream has been fulfilled, and he probably believes that everything else after that is a bonus- so he's just enjoying himself. In contrast, Lewis seems to have finally psyched himself out: believing he's the "next Senna" and buying too much of his own hype that it's his destiny to be "great".

Hopefully, in 2012, we will see the old Lewis Hamilton re-emerge. Focused and fast.


Things are bad for Lewis, but it's only hairline moments that separate Lewis as 1x DWC from a 3x DWC. Obviously China '07 was huge ... McLaren wanted a knockout, instead of doing what they should've done, which is just making sure that it would be an in-house battle only, for the last race.

Then last year ... Lewis' tire blows on the second-last lap of the Spanish GP while in 2nd ... add 18 pts and he wins the DWC last year.

Yeah, this is all if-my-aunt-had-balls stuff, but just goes to show how fine the line is between hero and zero.


Very good points.

As for the hype.. the same people that made him the great hype... are all writing him off. Weekend in and out.


Interesting piece. One thing i'm not sue i completely agree with is the idea that Lewis doesn't have his dad to turn to. Just because he lo longer represents him as his manager, he is still his dad. Unless they are now estranged, which i have not heard anywhere else.

His dad is always his dad, and the fact that he is a few garages down the pit lane and probably staying in the same hotel every race weekend means he's still around.

While i'm playing armchair psychologist i would advise Hamilton to move back home to the UK. It can't be much fun going home to a foreign country to a grand apartment like some sort of Great Gatsby figure. It's all very well avoiding tax, but is it really worth it?


I agree totally with both of these assessments. Nice one.

What's good for the image and the bank balance often isn't good for the soul!


The reality is for these drivers (and particularly jenson and Lewis) that they live more away from home than actually at home.

Jenson lives in guernsey officially but spends more of his time in Asia/Japan so the parallels are there.

I think Lewis is growing up, just like jenson had to (let's not forget he was accused of enjoying the high life too much when younger).

IMHO he'd almost be better being given the last two gps off and have some down time. Then he will be fresh for next year.

I think someone else said it, but jenson feels like he has nothing to prove, and he's settled in his personal life. We all do things to the best of our ability when like that.

The fact that strategy and intelligent aggression/conserving tyres is a strategy is just playing into his hands. But let's not forget he's been one of the best overtakers in the formula this year. Great performance.


A tremendous article James, very well balanced looking at it from all angles.

With regards to Massa you cannot help but feel that there is a desperation with his driving. He defends very resolutely but on most occasions is much slower than the key opposition. This could explain some of the very ambitious moves we have seen not just from Hamilton but Webber pull off resulting in accidents. Let's also not forget Button's penalty from Australia and Alonso's views when he is stuck behind Massa.

I agree that it must also play on Hamilton's mind Vettel and RBR domination. How much more longer will it go on for?It plays on my mind. I really do not want another "Schumacher" era. At least I can pursue other interests.

One final thought James. Does the Vettel/RBR dominance play on Alonso's mind? At the end of last season I thought we were in for years of Vettel vs Alonso because I was not convinced that McLaren could deliver a consistent race winning car. Now I believe that we could be in for years of Vettel/RBR versus no one....


Why would you feel Mclaren couldn't deliver a race winning car at the end of last year? Last year Mclaren performed as well as the Ferrari if not better, in my opinion, so if Alonso was challenging in a Ferrari last year I think he'd be challenging in a Mclaren last year also. I for one am tired of Red Bull's dominance, particularly because of the disparity between their 1st and 2nd driver.

They say in F1 that a driver's most valued commodity is his raw speed, then his consistency. Last year, Webber and Vettel were somewhat on par in qualifying. This year Vettel is suddenly significantly faster than his team mate. It could only mean one of two things; Vettel suddenly got significantly faster over a qualifying lap, or Webber suddenly got significantly slower. Whichever the reason, its just become a joke in terms of having two winning drivers in a team. I wouldn't care except that the sheer dominance of Red Bull means one guy just coasts at every GP and is suddenly the greatest thing since sliced bread.

My opinion is that not even having to drive on the limit at most Grand Prix and being able to break the record books doesn't mean you're great, just that the team is. I also had that belief during the dominant Ferrari period. And I think its highly unlikely that one driver suddenly becomes significantly faster over a qualifying lap after several years in F1.


Memory fails... when was Alonso stuck behind Massa?


German GP 2010 ... until a certain radio message.


South Korean GP 2011 for starters.


Nice analysis James. I think with this new focussed Lewis next year we will see him back to his best!

We all know that Lewis has had his problems this year but lets not forget we saw his stunning drive in China to know he can still do it.

I know Button is out performing Lewis recently, but with a new fresh start next season and with Lewis going on record he wants a new focus next season I think we will see the old Lewis back then!


I think the last time McLaren had a dominant car it was designed by a Mr. A. Newey!


Then there is the constant apologizing by Lewis.. I feel its his way (he thinks) he can get an arm from the team around him.. to make him feel like loved.

He clearly needs to feel loved.

If you think of it, it's quite an amazing story of a buy growing up but having to find out that his dad was his spine (although I dont think he realises it as such).

But he needs to develop his own spine. Maybe some shrink sessions would do well on the topic of "Individuation"**.

All boys go through it. He can use a helping hand.. fast track through it by understanding.

Ps. please James.. can you text LH.. "individuation" on behalf of his deeply concerned fans 🙁


**The individuation process is a term created by the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung to describe the process of becoming aware of oneself, of one’s make-up, and the way to discover one’s true, inner self. Although the structure is basic and simple, the contents require a much deeper understanding.


ps... a signature behaviour of non-individuated individuals (funny sounding sentence) are their hang for "heroes"... like Senna, Bob Marley etc...

Once again: if you could please text him ..


Looking at the qualifying results it is clear that Button isn't beating Hamilton, Hamilton is beating himself. Sure, Button is now second in the WDC, but Hamiltons problems began when Jenson was still standing behind him in the Championship. So i'd say that if there is anybody who is beating Lewis, and is having an effect on his psyche, than it's Vettel. Sure, Lewis could have been more consistent, but the fact remains that Redbull had such an advantage this year, that it was simply not possible to beat Vettel. I don't think that Hamilton cares much about Jenson being no.2, what irks him is that there was simply no chance for him to be no.1 in the championship. In addition, he is exposed to lots of unnecessary and unfair criticism. I'm not talking about crashes and mistakes on the circuit, but rather comments on his supposed "hollywood rapper friends", his girlfriend and his haircuts, earrings and beart, which in my opinion are out of place [mod] Vettel wore ridiculous hats and stupid haircuts, gives his car idotic names, changes his helmet design, almost every race, does the finger and gets on everybody's nerves imitating that frog when he gets a pole, and yet nobody attributed his mistakes last season to any of these things. Formula 1 has been associated with glamour and celebrities for as long as i can think back, yet suddenly, when Hamilton shows a group of entertainers around the garage he is being unprofessional? [mod]


I'd say Lewis did have a shot at the title this year - It's his own fault he's not made it happen.

The McLaren has won 5 races this year and was fast enough to win at least two others (Monaco & Barcalona) - If Hamilton has pulled his finger out and won all of those plus got the podiums his team mate has been getting he and Vettel would be very very close and this championship would be going to the wire.

The only person rattling Lewis' cage is Lewis. It's his belief that he's entitled to things rather than understanding that he must work harder than everyone else in the paddock to achieve them.


I'm sorry, but for Lewis to have won the DWC year, he would have had to have had the best year of any driver in living memory, PLUS have Vettel fall completely on his face in a number of races.

The gap is 134 pts people!!! That's over 5 race wins! I would fully agree if we were talking about the 2010 season, that Hamilton had a definite shot at the DWC last year, and blew it. But this year? No way. That's like saying Berger had a chance for the DWC in '88.


Not really, if Hamilton had dominated his team mate (as he's quite capable of doing when he gets his act together) and won the races the car was capable of winning he and Vettel would be very close although Vettel still a little ahead. The McLaren is the 2nd fastest car but Webber isn't really doing the RB7 justice so Hamilton could come second every time Vettel wins and could have won 7 races himself had he performed as Vettel has against his team mate.

Basically, if he'd driven as he's capable of driving he would be right there.


Lewis did have a chance of the title, but it has been his team, not him that have let him down with some unbelievably poor and amateur decisions.


Malaysia - Fair cop..

Spain - He can make these calls himself, no? He's driving right... We've seen many other drivers make these calls for the team.

Monaco - Again, can he not make these calls himself?

Canada - His team mate won, Hamilton was closing Button down and trying to pass when he crashed into him. Common sense says that had he made a pass stick he would have won.

Britain - I'm not sure your analysis is right here... The McLaren was slow in GB, he was lucky to get 4th - I don't believe 2nd was ever on the cards, even if he'd fluked pole in the conditions.

Hungary - I can't remember what the penalty was for so can't comment but it can't have been his team's fault.

Belgium - Maldonado was definitely out of order here but that wasn't his teams doing and it didn't really change anything for quali. In the race, I agree the accident was Kobayashi's fault but Lewis gets himself in these spots a lot, just relying on the other driver to stay away if you like... If he'd put some thought into it he could have avoided this happening.

Italy - Patience is a virtue... He should have bided his time and picked his spot as he's quite capable of doing. He said himself, he was being overly cautious due to his history in races prior. That's his fault.

Singapore - This was his fault, it's quite clear if you look back at it.

India - Yeah, Massa's fault but the damage to Lewis' season had already been done and you have to think that if the history between Massa and Hamilton this season had been different, this situation would have turned out differently too!

Look at it this way... Vettel has been right out of trouble this season and so has Button. If Hamilton had been driving as he's capable of doing without all the clumsiness he would have been ahead of Button and not far behind or in front of Vettel at every single race. You make your own luck!

On top of that, I doubt Vettel's season would have been quite so smooth had he been in a tightly contested fight with Hamilton so even with a couple of unfortunate incidents for Hamilton it would more than likely have still been close.

It's all speculation though I guess. My point is just that alot of Hamilton's poor form this season is down to him and nobody else.


Malaysia: not rebalancling flat spotted tyre(option) after qualifying, did so in Spain, cost him certain 2nd place.

Spain: not taking opportunity to beat Vettel and Red Bull by not pitting earlier for the 2nd stop, cost him victory.

Monaco: not sending him out early in Q3, cost him certain front row start if not pole position, and race victory.

Canada: didn't bring right type of wings, Canada is a low downforce circuit where you need a different wing, it cost Hamilton another pole position and it cost him and Button an easy 1-2 finish, inexcusable.

Great Britain: sending him out on tyres that had been used earlier in qualifying in Q3, then sending him out for 2nd run with new options, started to rain, qualified 10th. McLaren knew rain was coming, but still made this decision, cost him a higher grid slot and itcost him what would have been a brilliant 2nd place.

Hungary: penalty which didn't seem just as he was leading the race at the time, debatable.

Belgium: was targeted by Maldonado in qualifying and was taken out by Kobayashi, and Kobayashi never tried to prevent this incident, never was going to overtake around the outside, would have beaten Vettel on strategy.

Italy: poor strategy by McLaren in trying to pass Schumacher, would not have happened if in title contention, which he should have been, cost him 2nd place.

Singapore: penalty which is very debatable, many drivers have taken out drivers at same corner and had not received penalty.

India: being taken out of race calucations by Massa when Massa knew Lewis was there, cost Lewis 5th place and I think Ferrari should fire Massa after this.


Can you name some? He wasn't as fast as Jenson in Suzuka, he crashed into Jenson in Canada, I can't remember what happened in Monaco tbh and I'm not sure what went wrong in Hungary either.

Look, I'm a McLaren fan and I have huge respect for both Jenson and Hamilton but people are of the opinion that Vettel is only winning because of his car but this is utter Rubbish. The McLaren has been a title contender all year - perhaps not over a single lap but over a race distance it definitely has and I'm sorry, but the team haven't screwed this one up like you're suggesting.

Vettel has absolutely crushed Webber and been far more consistent than everyone except for Button and Alonso who are perhaps on a par in terms of consistency. Button isn't fast enough to challenge for the title and Alonso doesn't have the car.

Hamilton has the speed and the car. The problem is, he's been impatient... It seems to me that he believes the hype around him too much. Vettel is where he is by being the most dedicated and focused driver on the grid and Hamilton has been neither of those. If he had consistently unleashed his phenominal pace all year and picked his spots for overtakes a bit better this championship would be going down to the wire..

Hamilton's poor season is down to Hamilton only, not the car and not the team.


i really don't know where the entitlement and arrogance comments are coming from. in most interviews i have seen of him, he is soft spoken and appears to be very humble if not outright shy.

sure there have been comments made in anger, but i have yet to see hamilton react like vettel did after turkey last year, hear him complain that his teammate wasn't ordered to let him through, deliberately ram an opponent off track in order to win the championship, try to have a physical confrontation with other drivers after an accident or read about him trying to blackmail his boss. these are all things other drivers have done plenty of times, so i don't really see what the particularly negative character traits of hamilton are in comparision.


Those are good points. David Beckham is the very definition of celebrity but he was still a very professional footballer.

Hamilton's main problem right now is confidence. Confidence is what he and Mark Webber have lost, and what Vettel and Button have in spades (Alonso has a good amount of it too). He got a podium in Korea, and if he got a podium yesterday he could have built up the confidence to finish off the year on a high with a couple more podiums in Abi Dabby and Brazil. But instead he started off the weekend with a penalty, was slow, collided with Massa again, and now here we are again talking about Lewis's 99 problems.


Man up Hamilton.

I know that sounds kind of arrogant if not ignorant but from the way I see it he's going through that stage in his life.

When I was 25 - 26 I thought I'd done all my growing up - I was wrong. Look at Button, Webber, Alonso etc... If Hamilton can hang in there I think we'll find he becomes unbeatable based on maturity and that he's probably the fastest on raw speed if not second only to Alonso who'll be gone.


Best comment yet


I think it is all getting on top of Lewis, first team mate to beat him, bust up with father, bust up with friend ( Massa), bust up of first serious girlfriend etc etc. He is only human after all and some symapthy and understanding is the least he deserves.

I do recall something along the lines that McLaren considered Lewis had a fairly straightforward and well funded run into F1 and that with hindsight, maybe he should have spent sometime in a lesser team in say GP2 and had to struggle before hitting the big time.

As has been said before, sport is not character building but character finding.

On another matter Brundle and Coulthard mention that the stewards have much more information such as GPS, telemetery etc to call on when they make a decision, could we have some information on this pleaae James.

As ever fair and insightful comments James, thanks.


This is interesting:

drivers that jumped in in top F1 teams right away:

- Villenueve... went down from where he started

- Hamilton... going down the same path

Who else jumped in a top team? Vettel?

But perhaps the comparison is not the best as Red Bull grew into a top team in 2009...

SO perhaps that experience of growing with the team saves him here.


I suppose one could make the case for Jackie Stewart, seeing as his teammate (G Hill) won the DWC the year he started in F1 with BRM. He seemed to do alright.

Both Hamilton and Vettel had been signed to a big team's driver development program, those of McLaren and Red Bull, from a very early age.


Err Vettel was with BMW as their friday driver, and was very fast there. He then finished 8th in his 1st GP when Kubica couldn't race.

Then we moved to Minardi/Torro Rosso


You're remembering his time at Torro Rosso?


He was already part of the Red Bull umbrella and moving to Red Bull even at Torro Rosso. Its not exactly the same as Webber or Alonso in a Minardi, or Schumacher in a Jordan, is it?


You could also blame Hamilton for the same criteria, James.

He knew he had to brake earlier, and therefore to stick his nose down the inside when he couldn't fully commit to the move was quite dangerous.

Both drivers could've done more to avoid it, and it should've been no penalty.

Also, I think the nature of the circuit contributed to the incident, as Turns 5/6 are one flowing motion, so Massa didn't have much room to go wide and not go off at the next corner.


Both drivers could’ve done more to avoid it, and it should’ve been no penalty.

Absolutely. It was too harsh to punish Massa, but would also have been too harsh to punish Hamilton.

What happened to the lighter touch we were starting to see on penalties like this a while back?


It seems that the new policy is to only penalise when the other driver has damage, which is quite a ridiculous policy in my opinion.


I think there was a certain hype around Hamilton in the previous seasons. He is a very good driver, but in my opinion he was overvalued and this hype created a wrong self-image with him. Now, this year is the realisation. Breaking up with his girlfriend and other distraction are excuses that I do not find too professional as others can have private difficulties in life, too. He needs to come back next year with a down-to-earth approach and respect for fellow drivers and less promises and talks. He will be able to win again sure, and he must start next year or Vettel will leave him behind based on potential for getting better every year. Besides McLaren was at certain races the better car this year.


Having the better car at 3, maybe 4 races in a 19 race season ain't much, thanks.


Jenson is no doubt having a solid season, but is it fair to compare JB and Hamilton's seasons when one of them is having arguably the worst of his career?

Aren't Jenson's results of 'beating' Lewis a byproduct of Lewis' poor season?


It is w/o doubt fair. What matters is results, period. Yeah, maybe the tires have helped Button bridge and surpass the gap that he had to Hamilton last year. Doesn't matter, those are the tires that everyone has to use.

Button is having a very good year, and barring some craziness in the last couple of races, will be the first teammate to best Hamilton over a season. Button should rightly be proud of that. I remember Webber saying last year that if you finish ahead of Hamilton, you know you've had a good year.

2012 is a fresh start for all though.


That would be true if jenson also hadn't had issues (like silverstone etc).


Yes it is fair; we're not comparing their whole careers, but them as they are right now.

They're driving the same car, so why not?


So when a driver is having as bad season we have to just ignore it and not count it?

No, it is part of his resumee, his current performance. And you are only as good as your last race.

The way Hamilton fans want to pretend like this is just Button getting lucky is pretty sad.

He is beating Hamilton fair and square. amilton is the faster driver, Button is the better driver.

I remember last season Vettel had 4-5 bad races and Hamilton fans were ridiculing how he is just average and should not even be in F1.


Leaving his own expectations aside (certainly fueled by the F1 circus - namely British media and fans), it maybe would take some external pressure of his shouders if Hamilton's standing since in F1 (season by season) would be assessed more objectively/less chauvinisticly.

The strong impression he made in his debut season (when while having a dominant car, his own attitude and the teams misjudgement cost McLaren a one-two in the championship - note that he didn't score more points than his teammate!) was confirmed with the drivers championship in 2008, that he nearly managed to miss out the title due only to his own driving mistakes despite having a dominant car again... It didn't happen thanks only to a rainshower in the final laps in the final race!

Since then, with no dominant car, he has failed to make any impression at all through any racecraftship (unlike Vettel did 2008 in Monza driving a ToroRosso or Alonso did in 2010 driving a snail, when he only missed the title due to strategy error by the team in the last race), showing nothing but raw speed and agression.

Tell me of a F1 driver who isn't (doesn't claim to be) fast.

Am I the only one thinking that Hamilton is a too much overrated driver????


Interesting that you think British media/fans are biased. I sense quite a bit of that in your comment above.

I don't recall Alonso driving a snail of a car last year. However, I do recall a catalogue of errors in the first half of the season whereby he lost more points than the failed strategy call did in Abu Dhabi.

If anything the rain shower in Brazil 2008 caused more problems than good for Hamilton because prior to it he had the race very much under control. The consensus of opinion is that Ferrari was the better car in 2008.

I would rate Hamilton's efforts of equalling his double world champion teammate in 2007 as pretty outstanding, and to win the WDC in only his second season pretty amazing. This is something that Prost, Senna nor Schumacher achieved.

This year has been a poor season but for much of 2009/10 prior to Italian GP that year Hamilton's performances were amongst the best of any current driver.

He will be back, it's just a case of when.


In 2008 the Mclaren was on par with the Ferrari overall and it took Glock's gift for Hamilton to beat Massa, yes Massa who isn't really competition.

Hamilton tied with Alonso in 2007 because of Ron Dennis, he won the title in his 2nd season was matched by Villeneuve and look how his career panned out, Hamilton is no better than a modern version of Jacques Villeneuve.


Glock's gift ... still on that? If Glock wanted Hamilton to win, why would he stay out on dry-weather tires to move up a few positions? And Glock surely must've corralled Trulli into the same scheme, seeing as they did similar lap times in the rain on that final lap.

Glock's gift ... pah! If you believe that, you'd also believe that Fuhrman planted the glove.


jaques villeneuves main error was letting his manager talk him into signing with bar. so unless simon fuller buys hrt and than convinces hamilton to drive there, i don't think you can draw a comparision.


JW1980, I wouldn't attempt to convince a biased fan, because that is impossible, but since this is a public forum I'll try and return some of your points. You talk about Prost, Senna and Schumacher never achieving the WDC in their second seasons, but all these drivers started out and had to work their way into top teams, Hamilton began his career in a top team, and as we can see today, that is the one key reason he became WDC in his second year. Villeneuve became WDC at Williams in his second year, so your 'amazement' at Hamilton should be shared with Villeneuve.

His tying his team mate is a point of contention; the team-mate hated the team so much that before the year was over he had signed to go to a significantly slower team. No F1 driver would agree to go to a significantly slower team unless they felt they weren't getting a fair shake, that is just common sense. FYI the teammate that he equalled has surely since then come across as a significantly better driver overall in the years after, because he is consistently rated as the best driver by other F1 drivers. They might not share your views..


Um, he didn't sign for Renault before the end of the year. Alonso and McLaren nullified their contract on Nov 2, 2007, and then Alonso signed for Renault on Dec 10th.

Feeling that you aren't getting a fair shake, and actually not getting a fair shake are two different things. Both Alonso and Hamilton won 4 times that year. What put Alonso's nose out of joint was when McLaren refused to order Hamilton to cede the lead to Alonso at the US Grand Prix. After that, he went nuclear the weekend of the Hungarian GP, and that pretty much put paid to his time at McLaren.


It's just a simple point I'm making here and I feel your comment actually supports it. A driver like him could have chose to stay at Mclaren and fight for the next world title, but instead he did not. To me that means that he truly never felt he'd get a decent chance. We've seen this with Prost and Senna at Mclaren too.

I think Mclaren would have done virtually anything to keep him until the entire scandal was blown up, and I feel before that he already had resigned to leaving. Why wouldn't Mclaren want him in one of their cars? They had the biggest signing of the season, every other team would have wanted the signing. They aligned sponsorships, etc, all around it. You think they wanted him to leave at any time? Even Ron Dennis said that they'd tried to offer everything, and they did, because it would have been stupid not to. This decision was Alonso's, ultimately, not Mclarens...


"No F1 driver would agree to go to a significantly slower team unless they felt they weren’t getting a fair shake, that is just common sense."

Alonso went to a slower team because it was obvious neither side wanted the relationship to continue and there were no competitive drives available, you make it sound like he signed for someone else against McLaren's wishes, which is hardly the case.



Smart! You will love this Vodafone ad on Spanish TV:


No discussion at all about Hamilton's achievements so far and further potential. While intentionally provocative in above's comment (that's why bulls run into red rags!), there is a point still, isn't it?

Maybe we can agree in that he's making a name himself in putting himself out of contention as much as for his driver record. (Schumi still is #1 in taking others out, su much that he has left a legacy therein while still being active.)Less crowbar and some more of Senna's mental control, Prost's brains, Schumacher's relentlessness and even Vettel's maturity, if you like - let's sacrifice Alonso here for the sake of 'unbiasement'. But like Senna said once:'There is plenty of time...'


Really ferrari the best car when none of d drivers could keep on the track in wet conditions please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


2008 Ferrari better than the 2008 Mclaren 2008?

Which consensus of which alternate reality is that? Hamilton fans are way out there.

The Mclaren was the bestter car in more races than the Ferrari and the fact is, Hamilton almost lost the title in a slightly better car over the entire season to...Massa of all drivers.

That title is not worth much.


Uh, yeah. Ferrari won the Constructors title that year. You've made the case for me by stating the fact that a driver like Massa was a championship contender while driving the 2008 Ferrari. And that with two retirements in the first two races.

8 wins to 6 for Ferrari that year, 19 podiums to 13, 21 pts (over two race wins) clear in the Constructors table.

As I've stated before, the only other driver in the modern F1 era (say post-1985) to have won a DWC with their f/t teammate ending up

6th or lower, besides Hamilton, is Prost in 1986. Y'know, that total slouch of a driver. Most teammates of DWC's finished within the top 4 thru that time (Fisichella finished 5th in 2005). Heikki finished 7th.

I'd say that title was well earned and well deserved.


Most people that have tried in-depth analysis have come to the conclusion that the Ferrari was a better car that year, certainly it had an aero advantage. The fact that Massa, a good but not great driver, was able to challange for the title bares this out.


I seem to remember that Ferrari felt that they had the better car in 2008. This prompted the team to sign Alonso to replace Raikkonen at great cost.

Although unscientific you only have to look at the relative performances of Hamilton vs Alonso and Alonso vs Massa to see the difference.


JB is ahead of LH but there is more thant just the numbers.

LH and JB collided in Canada in a race LH would have easily won or worse came second. In spa, LH collided with Koba in an incident similar to that of Montreal but strangely here the blame was on the driver who was in front, Lewis. Add those two that is at least 30 points lost on the track ...

For someone who has trouble and still delivers good performance I think there should be some praise instead of the beating ...

The same happened with Kimi in 2009. He is not involved, he does not care; how can he eat ice, how can he be on his boat after withdrawing from the race etc ... Ferrari is yet to win a title since and has not yet delivered a performance as good as that of Spa in an inferior car ... They have core issues somewhere and until they come to acknowledge it they wont turn it around.


Hamilton's retirements have been through collisions that have arguably been his fault. Button's have been through technical failures on the car, basically not his fault.


Good points, well written.


"but strangely here the blame was on the driver who was in front, Lewis."

massa was in front of hamilton on sunday and he got penalized, not that strange.......


they were both LH's fault esp the spa incident!

JB had two non-finishes which were no fault of his own in silverstone and germany. LH is faster no doubt about that but he needs to release there's more to racing that being fast.


Actually the slow mo they showed in Singapore of the Spa incident shows Kamui turn into Lewis car, causing the accident. Really hope Koba sorts out his form, he's been making too many mistakes this year!


Great post James, I agree 100% with your thoughts. It annoys me at the moment watching the racing, when someone goes for a move the other driver feels if he is ahead its okay just to turn in and cover his line and because he was there first then you have the moral ground. Its a real blight on the current version of Formula 1 racing. Massa and Hamilton at the moment are a good example of this mentality. But it is becoming too frequent through the field and its a complete lack of respect for your rivals. From a safety perspective especially in these past weeks its irresponisble also.

On that last note, I was gobsmacked that Hamilton thought it a good idea on a Friday pratice to drive through a waved yellow flag area with his DRS open going for a hot lap. Again a lack of respect.


OMG!!! Whitmarsh is such a dubious fellow, he has that special ability to praise one while at the same time taking a dig at them.

This behaviour is usually seen in politicians + they too love to talk.

To any rational person it's quite clear Hammy problems are a result of Vettel's dominance these past two years and not Jenson, more so this year because Hammy really believed he had a car that was going to do the job.

If I remind you, Hammy's mistakes begun in Monaco when the team messed up his qualifying which set off a chain reaction which has turned into an all out war with that guy from Brazil & the stewards (creating the beast we have now & most annoying, they created the overly cautions Hammy as shown in Monza & his over self critical press conferences)

And oh, by that point in the season, Hammy was beating Jens comfortably & then came Canada where Lewis got slammed into the wall by who else?

So no, this is the usual Whitmarsh tosh trying to big up his favourite driver for the time Lewis fell off the cliff (mentally) was around Spa when he realized the titles were long gone coz he was too slow in the race.

Plus this season has mainly been about bad luck for the poor lad both in qualifying & the race infact the qualifying ratio should be higher in his favour.

The only races Jens has managed to beat Lewis fair & square are Suzuka, Malaysia, Hungary, the rest have been a result of bad luck & team blunders going against Hammy.

So no, Lewis' problems have had nothing to do with Jenson or with his breakup with Nicole but with that rocket that's the Red Bull.

Re: Massa-Hammy incident in India.

Am of the view that Hammy backed off at the last moment as he saw Massa wasn't giving him room, creating the impression that Massa braked later for come on, Lewis is the best of all late brakes

As for Webber & Alonso, of course they respect each other because they're friends off track and that's why Lewis had to back out of passing Alonso around the outside of Eau Rouge back in 2007 because he knew what his bestie had in store for him if he dared even think of pulling off that move.

And that's why I always take overtakes by friends off track with a little pinch of salt.

Anyway congratulations to Button for F1 always favours the guy that rarely makes mistakes, as long as you score points, just ask Keke Rosberg.


I just read your first sentence and I am moved to say +1. But Whitmarsh's liking for insulting everyone's intelligence peaked when as FOTA Chairman he announced a 'no way' position in the prequel to the SKY deal to then .... Sorry, James would censor this!


"If I remind you, Hammy’s mistakes begun in Monaco when the team messed up his qualifying which set off a chain reaction"

This. Monaco quali was quite clearly a turning point. He was having a great season up til then; Australia, China, Barcelona were all vintage perfomances. It just seems that he hasn't quite had his head right since Monaco. The pole that might have been?


I don't buy it. Button is very, very good in the races, excellent in fact. Qualifying less so. Hamilton has had a bad season and his personal difficulties are, in my view, the main reason for this.

I think he has no doubt that when his head is straight he will be on top of Button in every aspect of the sport. Button is so much better than he ever was before and in races his pace is comparable to Hamiltons but over the course of a season Lewis will believe he can come out on top.

Its odd that Mclaren have chosen to say this.


Schumacher set the bar awful high for the current crop of drivers. Lewis is a world champion, he should take comfort from that. Jenson won his title when many thought his career was already over and since then he seems to have been loving every minute of racing. But Lewis still seems to feel that he isn't achieving what he wants to. Missing out on the WDC title in his first year has really set the tone for his whole career. It's like he feels he's always falling short of the amazing career he should be having. It's a shame but I'm sure he'll get through it.

Though I do sometimes wonder if he wouldn't be better off out of motorsport altogether and choosing his own life instead of following the dreams of his dad.

Regarding the crash with Massa, I would call it a racing incident, but I'd also say that the next time it happens both drivers should be black flagged. It's become embarrassing for the sport. Rivalries are all very well and good but when they can't get through a race without hitting each other, it's gone too far.


I had some degree of respect for your comments until you said:

"Though I do sometimes wonder if he wouldn’t be better off out of motorsport altogether and choosing his own life instead of following the dreams of his dad."

Of course he wouldn't. No-one is better of OUT of F1!!


But Massa! (to confirm the rule)



When I was a young lad back in the day, my sweet Nan told me a life lesson which I have never forgotten till this day.

She sat me down & told me... ''goferet my grandson, always, always, ALWAYS watch your back when you're dealing with somebody that's left handed.

As always, my Nan was right!


I'm left handed, and confirm that this is sensible advice.

Carlos E. Del Valle

James, what role do you think the current rules play, regarding the Hamilton vs. Button fight? I mean, from 2010 there's no refueling, and races are less "push push" nowadays, and more chess-game endurance in some way.

And then you throw in the Pirellis, which seem to hurt Hamilton and Webber way more than Vettel and Button.

Do you think things would be different if we still had the refueling + Bridgestone format? (I would say yes).


I suppose it's an English thing to be so obsessed with Lewis? Last I checked Seb Vettel has pretty much destroyed the entire field of drivers this season. Are we bored with his unbelievable performances so much that we're looking for a story to distract away from his greatness? Frankly, I'm bored with the Lewis Saga. After every race we read these silly made up dramas about Lewis from the English media and Martin Whitmarsh.


Put them both in the same car and Lewis would chew him to bits. Not biased. I rate Seb as one of the top drivers I have seen, but LH is something special. He's crippled by a poor car at the moment. If he was in Webbers seat we would all be talking about why Seb isn't doing the business....


Is that why we're asking right now why Button isn't "doing the business?" Because right now, 2 races shy of 2 full seasons in the same team, Button has outscored Hamilton by 12 points.


...so Button beating Hamilton, but Hamilton would beat Vettel, who is half a second faster than anyone else in Q3, has usually a 2-3 sec gap to anyone else after the first lap, does not make hardly any mistakes and stands pressure much more than Hamilton ever did and just started to learn how to make overtaking on the likes of Alonso and Hamilton...


While of course Hamilton will not like the fact that Button is ahead on points and wins, I actually doubt that is the central cause for Hamilton's dip in form. I think it is more to do with lifestyle, distraction, and de-moralisation. Since 2008 the cars from McLaren have hardly been competitive with the 2009 car being dreadful with steady improvement to 2011, but it is still not competitive enough to win a championship against Red Bull which would have gone against the grain with Lewis who wants to win. The other thing that has happened is the introduction of high degradation tyres which whilst initially improving the spectacle for TV has now fallen away as teams evolve their strategies to take account of them. I suspect that these impact more on some driving styles than others and on that basis is rather unfair. Next year they are to be slightly improved which is a step in the right direction as what most people want to see is proper racing with plenty of wheel to wheel action, and rather less penalties. The correct way to do this is to reduce the aero dependancy so that there is more reliance on mechanical grip. Anyway it appears that Lewis has started a process to hopefully get back to the form he was in 2007/8, and I for one wish him the best of luck, and hope that we will see once again some of the scintillating driving that has been his hallmark.


I think the Massa Hamilton crash was a racing incident.

If Massa had gone wide as you supposed he would have flown off the track because he would have had to leave the racing-line - and I think Hamilton knew it - both took the chance and lost


I think those that have said "Massa would rather crash out than be overtaken by Lewis" have hit that nail on the head.

Re Lewis I think he's suffering mentally because he had so much so early. He'd be better equipped to deal with a run of disappointing results if he'd had a bit more experience of them at the back of the grid. I'm sure he never pictured himself being anything other than the quickest guy in the quickest car, and the dawning realisation that things aren't panning out that way is something he hasn't prepared himself for.

Still, he'll bounce back. If he can learn from Jense and couple his natural pace with a bit of his team mate's race craft and intelligence then he'll be mighty again.


Interesting article James. Thanks.

Am also reminded of what I understood Nigel Roebuck to say (when Motorsport was recently interviewing JYS), to the effect that LH is probably miffed that Seb is having the career that LH thought he would have and, at least at this point, there looks to be no option to go to a better team than McLaren.



Not sure if it was already in the open, but Martin Whitmarsh revealed the previously-secret length of Button's new "multi-year" deal on air yesterday:


(start at 3:24:30 and listen carefully)


After living through the Schumacher era, I guess we've all become a little jaded when it comes to dynasties. When Hamilton won the championship in 2009, I know I was thinking here's a guy who has been dipped in the magic waters and that this was the spring board to continued greatness. Of course, that's not the way F1 works, or most other things for that matter. Maybe he still is bound for glory - I'm pulling for him. But one thing's for sure - his education has begun.


Sorry. I meant to say 2008!


It's nice to hear a decent explanation of the Hamilton/Massa incident. I did think it strange at the time and fully expected Hamilton (if either driver) to be the one walking away with a penalty (as if losing your front wing isn't penalty enough). Many thanks for sharing that with us!

Going back to the main article, my impression of JB continues to grow. While I thought (as many did) that he was insane to move to McLaren, I now think that McLaren delivered a master-stroke to tempt him away from Brawn GP. He is a fabulous racing driver, a pleasure to watch and a superb ambassador to the sport as a whole.

I honestly think that McLaren have the best pairing on the grid and now all they need is a car that can consistently put them at the front of the field.


@James: I'd say that the "gap" is more to do with how Hamilton drives against Massa - half heartedly! Didn't really try to overtake and didn't really try to back out of the move. Pretty similar to the accident they had at Monza, Lewis was asking for a collision.

I've actually enjoyed Massa's defensive driving this season, in 2008 it was non-existent and people mocked him for it, bravo for changing that around!


While Button's form at the moment is a joy to behold, I think McLaren know while Button is superb at getting the "results which the car deserves" - if they need a driver to take the fight to another with a better car, then its Lewis to whom they turn. The advantage Red Bull have this year has just been too great.

Next year will be key - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that.

Last year we saw Vettel go through a bad run of collisions and being beaten by his team mate - and how has he come back stronger! With a break and fresh start, Lewis could do the same.


And this is why (correct me if im wrong) Button has beaten Vettel (in a superior car) more times this season??

I think its just a case of Mclaren have 2 superb drivers and either can beat the other.I woud back both to take the fight to anyone and the best will win on the day. This year its been Button,next year it could be either who knows.


There's a lot of differences between Button and Hamilton. Button seems a much more cerebral driver; calm, controlled and thoughtful. Hamilton is a balls-out, intuitive driver who is very exciting to watch.

I think the differences between them makes it easy for them to get on with each other, but there's clearly no doubt Hamilton finds it difficult to rationalise being beaten by someone in an identical car.

I think they're both great drivers in their own ways and long may the partnership continue.


James - this is probably the best report from you I have ever read. Such a complex set of conflicts distilled into so few words takes a masterful pen. 😉 Many thanks....


A very well though out piece, James.

I hope this year will lay to rest the notion that Button lucked into his championship, that he can only win when it rains, when he's got a big car advantage, etc, etc. The fact that he has the most wins after Vettel - 3, to Hamilton's 2 and Alonso's 1 - surely confirms him as the best of the rest this year.

There's no doubt that Hamilton needs to sort his head out, but I think the same can be said of Massa. That he was the only driver to come a cropper on the orange kerbs says one thing, but to then do exactly the same thing a second time in the race is just unbelievable.


Maybe TV coverage just had not captured it during the season, but I noticed Anthony spending time on the grid with Lewis this weekend. What do you make of that? Simple moral support?


If I were in W's place Lewis Hamilton would be my priority.

Bad luck + errors on the race track = fastest way from hero to zero.

But let's not write off LH. Because there are [imho] two types of champion driver: those who grow from being journeymen into champs, and with respect, JB was the epitome of the journeyman for quite a few years, till 2009. Now his current place is at the very top, second only to Vettel this year.

The other type is much rarer: they come into F1 like a fireball and compete at the top level from the word go. In this category I'd list only Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel from the current grid. I'm willing to consider Alonso too, but I seem to recall his first two years were not spectacular, but I could be wrong. Di Resta might be included one day...

Point is: Hamilton will be fine, if Whitmarsh remembers that going the extra mile to make him feel loved could prove worthwhile.


Could have been because Alonso was driving a Minardi?


Alonso's Minardi had Carbon brakes. His team mates had steel brakes. Wonder why he beat him?


ps excuse a small aside

off the grid fireballs still alive

- Prost [greatest]

- Stewart [?]

- Lauda

- Mansel [?}

- Raikkonen


Why didn't Hamilton back off? Wasn't he again trying to force a pass that wouldn't work? I haven't seen it, so I really can't judge the incident, but it seems to that it was another '6 to 1, half a dozen to the other' moment.


Hi James, I wanted to ask if you'd do an article about why the drivers helmets have a new strip across the top of their visors. I suppose given the events of recent weeks it would be interesting to look at how far safety has come and where the future of driver safety is heading.

Also with regards to this story I think the fact that Alonso, Vettel and Button have shared the podium five times this year says it all really. 2011 - those 3 have been the stars. We all know what Hamilton is capable of, he needs to get back to what made him so formidable in 2007, he barely made a mistake that year.


It's a zylon strip, introduced this year after a few incidents in preceding seasons where debris hit drivers helmets, such as Massa and Surtees. There is an article on the formula one website http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2011/3/11880.html


Interesting comments from Martin Whitmarsh there, and perhaps slightly worrying as well - as has been said before, in Formula One (as with most sports) if you're not applying pressure you're feeling it. Lewis has certainly had a lot to deal with in the background, none of which needs to be mentioned again by me, but ultimately he should be able to deal with Jenson's uplift in form. If he can't, then there is something more fundamental amiss - much, it should be said, like Fernando being enraged when Lewis went faster than him in the same car back in 2007. I wonder if perhaps some of the problem is the level of expectation placed upon him, both from the team and outside. He's constantly being lauded as a great racing driver, one of the fastest there is and so on, and while that is no doubt true it can also serve as a rod to the back if he struggles, as has been the case this season. Reaching for the "he's a great driver so it doesn't matter" line - which unfortunately seems to sum up McLaren's approach this year quite aptly - glosses over the root cause of the problem and is counterproductive, as it doesn't give Lewis a chance to fix it because it's not recognised as a problem. Something seems amiss in the man management stakes at McLaren, much as it was arguably with Kimi Raikkonen, and I sincerely hope Lewis does not follow Kimi's course as that would be a real shame. I do think McLaren need to rethink their current approach though.


hello my friend Lewis never went faster than Alonso in 2007 ....they finished on equal points despite the team fighting against alonso during the last 4 races(“We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando,said ron denis at china ) http://www.autoracingdaily.com/news/alternative-fuel/news_scan_fernando_alonso_demands_equality_accuses_mclaren_boss_ron_dennis_/


I wonder how he managed to win 4 races and score 6 poles and not be quicker? You do recall that McLaren told Lewis to hold station in Monaco after he was catching up Alonso?

If we say that things turned really bad between Alonso and McLaren after the Hungarian GP, it's interesting to see that in the six races after, Alonso scored 5 podiums to Hamilton's two.

In the last 4 races, he had 3 podiums to Hamilton's one. In the other (Japan) he spun out in the rain while in 2nd.

Seems to go against your "the team was fighting him" theory.


Sorry, I should have been clearer - I was referring to specific instances where Lewis was quicker, not the season as a whole. Over the whole of 2007 it was honours even as you say. There was a comment about it in Autosport alluding to Fernando losing his temper when Lewis went three tenths quicker than him consistently at one circuit (this was back in 2009 so I can't remember which one) - it only stuck in my memory because it seemed so out of character.


Not sure if it helps making these comments. Is that supposed to motivate Lewis? Or he was just expressing his opinion? Of course everyone knows that Button is Whitmarsh's driver as Lewis was Ron's driver and such comments add more to the speculation that Whitmarsh tries to make Button his primary focus (just quoting what several people have thought at times including myself although don't want to believe this). Such comments should have been kept behind closed doors and leave it to people and journalists make their speculations.


With alonso at Ferrari for the next few years and vettel still entrenched at red bull, it would be quite easy for Lewis to feel despondent about the future. There really isn't anywhere else for him to go at this point, and it's not a given that mclaren are going to be the superior car soon. Makes you realise how much this sport is a game of relationships as well as raw talent, because Lewis' previous dramas with alonso when they were teammates effectively rules out his chances of a seat at Ferrari any time soon.


Well said James. I think many people tend to forget (me included until you reminded me) that Button went through this exact phase when he was at Benetton prompting Briatore to permanently think that he was crap. It's almost like a carbon copy of Hamiltons current situation. Button was accused of the 'playboy' lifestyle with the pop star girlfriend 'Louise' distracting him and suffered dramatically because of it. Hamilton will get through this and is doing exactly what Button did back then - strip away the distractions to focus only on F1.

The only concern is whether or not McLaren can make that truly competitive car to take on RBR. Wasn't '98 or '99 the last time they were able to do that? It's definitely been a long time ago.


I would say the last totally dominant McLaren was in 1989. By dominant I mean far and away the best car on the grid.


In 2000, 2003 and 2005 they had a car that challenged for the title, the latter two let down by reliability (particularly 2005), whilst they did two years running from 2007-2008.

The last time they had a car dominant, rather than just champhionship contender, was 2005, but that things reliability was non-existant.


On the BBC feed after the race, Martin Whitmarsh mentioned that Button was performing well compared to Lewis, followed by "We didn't think...", immediately correcting himself with "Lots of people didn't think he'd be able to do that."

Freudian Slip perhaps? I thought it was very telling...


What was more telling, and tne BBC crew missed it, the viewers missed it, the commentators missed it...Whitmarsh said concerning Button 'the next 3 years".

So the contract they signed is for 3 years.


F1 is always about the car - no matter how good you might be, without the car, you've no chnace to show it. How many cars are there that can win? Seems in any year there is one car with two drivers with one favoured. Favourite is Vettel.

Hamilton had two chances for WDC blew one and scraped the next. He's done way better than the vast majority. He needs to be realistic and accept that's the way it goes. His best chance is McLaren. He needs to decide to focus and be positive about the team and his part in it and work to get the best car. Sulking is not an option.

Indeed, the best antidote to all his ills is to focus on the task.


100% correct. You either have to be in the best car, wherein you have to beat your teammate, or you need a car that can mix it with another top car, and when that happens (as in 2008, 2007, 2006, 1999, 1990, 1986, etc.) is when you get the best DWC battles.


Perhaps Felipe should be thinking about the fact that these confrontations come about because Lewis is always trying to overtake him, rather than Felipe ever trying to overtake Lewis. Something to do with their relative positions in the F1 hierarchy? If Felipe was faster than Lewis, these contretemps wouldn't happen.

Having said that, I am pleased to see Felipe fighting back. He very obviously decided, after several glances in the mirror, to turn in on Lewis, he did no more than Senna or Prost deliberately did, back in the day when racing was not so constrained by eager stewards. I even wonder if, during that 100th/sec moment when he processed the situation mentally, he wasn't slightly influenced by the thought that "It's Lewis, he'll get the blame" In any case, in racing, the best way to discourage an opponent from future attempts to pass you is to show them that you'll have no hesitation in taking you both off. Lewis was trying it on a bit, Felipe just didn't stand for it and I commend him for that.

Re the reason for the penalty, I suspect that the stewards, having access to the telemetry, could see that Lewis had actually tried to pull out when he realised it wasn't on, while Felipe had just gone for it.

I feel sorry for Lewis, though. He cuts a rather lonely figure now, no real support with him. Felipe has a loving family with him at GPs including a very supportive father, I do wish that Lewis still had his with him. Rightly or wrongly, I get the impression that Lewis has to send an email to outer space to communicate with his manager. I just hope that he never turns into the sort of driver to which all his detractors are trying to chop him down. F1 needs Lewis, rather more than Lewis needs F1 at the moment.


Right comments James. But I also think that problems Lewis is facing were there before, but were less evident due to different regulations. Lets admit, he was always mistake prone in very decisive moments in 07, 08, 09, and 2010. However under those regulations drivers of top teams had to interact with other cars very rarely during the race. It was like a qualifying sprint where you just had to be fast. This time its different: refuel ban and Pirelli tyres require flawless races with a lot of on track action unless you are S. Vettel in RB7. Therefore that one out of ten where Lewis usually f***s up used to come once in ten races or more in previous years while in 2011 it comes every race.


Was a much better show with refueling. Consistently light cars being thrashed about at top-whack. Now that's how you test a driver, not ensuring he can keep synthetic compunds within strict temp. window!


I'm glad you brought up the 'respect' issue, James. It's a fascinating subject. There is something that Martin Brundle said about Ayrton Senna... something along the lines of: "Ayrton would put his car in a position during an overtake where the other driver had to decide whether or not they were going to have an accident". It describes his aggressive approach to racing, which is what made him so exciting. To me, you could replace Ayrton with Hamilton, and it'd be pretty accurate as well.

Hamilton's overtake on Jenson into the first turn in China is a great example of Lewis really relying on his competetor to 'respect' his aggressive overtake. Hamilton's overtake of Schumacher into turn 1 in Monaco was more of the same. Schumi and Button gave way and lived to fight another day only because of that fact. And they were brilliant passes because of that fact.

I believe Massa's state of mind and the state of his racecraft nowadays dictates that he's at the point where he feels "I don't want to be pushed around anymore." He's now taking a stand during these incidents unilaterally. There are times when I feel he's right to do this (Suzuka, Singapore) and times when I feel he's wrong (Monaco, India). To me, the respect has to go both ways between him and Hamilton, and it's clear to me that it's not at the moment.

I love the fact that you have so many complex and varied personalities at the head of the grid... it makes analyzing things a blast, doesn't it?


For the last few paragraphs, I think it is a bit more complicated. There are situations that the guy in front is entitled to take the racing line. Webber would do that on Alonso and Alonso on Webber too.

Or Petrov on Alonso last year Abu Dhabi lap 23 and more (where FA lost the championship). Alonso saw the gap, dived into it but realised he couldn't make it stick and stopped just inches before creating an accident.

Yesterday, Hamilton was on the dirty side of the track and not next up to Massa, he knew he had to brake earlier and could not carry the same speed through that corner. And the next corner he would be on the outside.

Really, the sensible thing was to abort and try again the next lap. I think Alonso and Webber would have.


Indeed, wrong place havin a faster car and many laps to go. LH should have waited for the right opportunity as he did on his first year in F1


he could have waited and used his drs later in the lap


I belive that was his thrid lap behind Massa, DRS wasnt enough. Massa was faster in qualy down the back straight for example.


Button has been fascinating to watch this season. He seems pretty controlled at the start, giving way if the situation calls for it and dropping a few places, but not making any rash moves or damaging his car or tires at the start.

It is in the middle of the race where he seems to set sail and make the most of his car...it has happened so often this season that I now wait for it during each race.

It is this patience that seems to be the difference.


Interesting indeed! I always hoped that Button would prove his doubters wrong when he went to McLaren and this year I think we are truly seeing what JB is: a great racer! As his self-comfort level grows [aka maturity] he will only get stronger. I think Lewis is really suffering from the indignity of being beaten by someone he perceives as not being as 'top-notch' as he is: his first season's success over Alonso must have helped crystallized his extraordinary level of self-belief. Therefore to be consistently beaten by JB must be hard to take and somewhat confusing: this will have the effect of making him try harder [perhaps too hard]. Hence all the dumb moves we have seen. Lewis needs to mature quite quickly: not only is JB immensely calm and trouble-free; but Sebastian Vettel is younger, faster and more mature than LH.



It's funny that you've written what I was telling my wife yesterday while I was watching the Indian GP. I thought the same thing that Lewis was too entrenched at McLaren and has too much talent to give JB an chance of success. I still think Lewis has much more natural talent, but apparently he has a long way to equal JBs maturity.

SPEED TV announcer Bob Varsha suggests that Lewis talk with another top sportsman to get some help with his current slump. Jackie Stewart would be my suggestion. It would be a hard thing for him to do, but it may be the best way to get his mind back in the game.


"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."

Well said JA. Its worth wondering indeed and there was no need for Whitmarsh to say what he did. Also, I have a feeling RBR & Hamilton will join forces alongside Vettel in 2013.

To see the graph of RBR's success, they are moving ahead one step at a time. Right from having DC (experience) & Webber to hiring Adrian Newey & after 2 successful years of having a fast & not so fast (read Vettel & Webber) drivers, may be they will want 2 equivalently matched but fast drivers in 2013. Just as McLaren had in 2007.

RBR has to just make sure they are the first ones to give Hamilton a shoulder to cry on.

P.S. I have a feeling RBR has already signed Hamilton. I say this as both Hamilton & RBR are not talking about 2013. Horner, of course has claimed Hamilton won't fit in RBR, etc; but he has claimed many things so far which have turned out to be completely different. To think of it, wouldn't that just be an explosive combo? Vettel, Hamilton & Adrian Newey!


I think either Alguersuari or Ricciardo will end up alongside Vettel. If Mercedes become competitive again, Hamilton will go there to replace Schumacher.


RBR doesn't need Hamilton. They're already at the top of their game and Hamilton would add nothing. As for McLaren, a fully-matured Hamilton should easily make them a serious threat to RBR supremacy. But will this happen? Alas, I think not.


"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".

Surely picking up results from avoiding collisions is beating your opponent? Button clearly understands f1 better than Hamilton. There is much more to f1 than simply being quick over one lap. You seem to be equating f1 to qualifying James?

Its a similar situation with Schumacher and Rosberg. I tend to think that some of the crashes Schumacher has had are a result of being under similar pressure from a team mate. Although he now seems to regularly have the better of Rosberg in races.


I think Lewis clearly knows that great drivers such as Senna or Schumacher were unbeatable by their teammates in their prime. But James, do you feel that he didn't play the game in terms of ruthlessness?

I mean there's a reason why u have to get the team behind you and bury your teammate. Kimi didn't do that and Massa made him pay, the same as Jenson. It's always a double edge sword which is why guys like Nigel said they won't get on.


Even in 1988 Prost beat Senna, on total points. Of course, if the rules of the game that year were total points, then Senna might have driven quite differently thru the year.


1989? Prost.

I think you'll find nobody was allowed to challenge schuey 😉


I know there are some obvious things in Schumacher's favour contractually, but I don't remember him being out qualified all that much. Surely if his team mate was truly his equal it would have happened a lot.


totally agree. People comment that Massa got close to him on occasions but I really dont think this was the case. Barichello was not particularly close. He did things that were magical in his first career. Although his recent race performances have been great. If it was another driver then people would have him marked out as a future world champion.


James, your description of the Hamilton/Massa incident is the best summing up of what actually happened at that corner on Sunday, absolutely spot on analysis.

I am a Button fan but respect Hamilton's outright greater speed on good days, a bit like the Tortoise and the Hare but Button does seem to be driving at a different level to even when he won the WDC at present.

You have mentioned in the past that the Engineers have indicated that Alonso is the best, looking at telemetry etc. Have they made any comments on Button recently? His consistency on Sunday was even noted by the BBC commentators, lap after lap within a few hundredths of the last one?


I remember a lot of talk some years ago when Button was at BAR\Honda about his consistency, particularly in terms of the line he takes around the circuit being within a couple of inches lap after lap. Can't remember who it was doing the talking though.

Also, the team principal (can't remember his name, ex racer, De Ferran maybe?) was absolutely gobsmacked by one of Button's pole laps after watching the telemetry - Apparently it was something special.

I think that's the point with Button though - He is consistent... I endurance race Karts and I'm not very fast really but my lap times are very consistent whereas my team mate is around half a second quicker but his times are more erratic. It's just two different ways of getting the job done - The net result is pretty much the same.


I dont think lewis has learnt how to coupe with his team mate beating him, as you said lots of people thought Button was making a mistake moving to Mclaren, I am glad to see Button taking the fight to Lewis and hopefully Lewis will get over it, grow up and learn to deal with it and hopefully come out the otherside being my grownup and a better driver.


Its great to see button doing so well - he has a real hunger to his driving this year and its showing.

re massa and hamilton, webber's too clever to whack it in there.


JB was always underrated in my view, critics say he only won his title because he had the fastest car. Well both Vettel’s titles were won with the fastest car and so did 90% of the other champions.

Jenson’s potential has always been there, qualifying 3rd at Spa on his debut there, finishing 3rd in the championship in ’04 only beaten by the dominant Ferrari’s. Also his 1st win in Hungary, critics say he only won because Alonso went off, but at the time he did so Jenson was catching him at half a second per lap.

I’m glad people realise his quality now.


This is spot on. I don't believe that Jenson has ever been the fastest on the grid but he has always been WDC material just because he is very fast, maybe a few tenths off the fastest out there and he's relentlessly consistent. He very rarely makes a mistake.

He had some brilliant years earlier on but the seasons were dominated by very fast Ferrari's & Renaults so nobody really paid any attention to what Button was doing even though he got a lot of podiums. Then he had two awful years where by his own admission he lost confidence in his own ability and went off the boil. Why is it that everyone remembers these years over the others?

Go look at some of his F3 races the year before he came to F1. He wasn't in the fastest car and he put in some absolutely blinding races. His Karting CV is better than just about everyone elses too.


Hmm,agree he is getting better, but the Brawn was an anomaly. It says all you need to know that Rubens was a contender for that WDC.


Rubens may've been a contender at Ferrari had Schumacher not been the favoured number 1


Your remarks about Alonso and Webber made me realise that there are now three distinct pairs of drivers in the top six - Vettel chased by Button, both consistently fast - Alonso and Webber, the gritty ones, both consistently scoring "good points" - and Massa and Hamilton, both consistently unlucky &/or under-performing. Not every weekend, but an overall shape.


Massa consistently in the top 6? Pull the other one....


Having had a quikc scan of thre results, Fernando has got as many podiums as Felipe has got top 6's. Interesting...


I think it's a little early to put Alonso in a second tier. He is one of the very best in my view.

Fantastic, all rounder driver.


The fact that Hamilton had to "back out of it" clearly show that it was not a wise move. Did he expect favors from Massa?

I agree with James about the Alonso/Webber - Hamilton/Massa analogy, its all about respect.

Hamilton lacked respect numerous times this season for his fellow drivers, like when he overtook Massa during the last run of Q3 some races ago. There were 4 top team car following each other for their final Q3 lap, while everyone was trying to manage a decent gap between each other, Hamilton decided to overtake Massa(both had enough time to reach the star/finish line) and ruined Massa's lap as a result because he had to take evasive action.

And what about Maldonado.. he was so sick and tired of Hamilton behavior toward him on track that he deliberately crashed into him during Qualifying!

Respect is given when respect is due.


Lewis and Webber were able to race wheel-to-wheel in Korea and Germany w/o coming together. Lewis and Button were able to do it in Hungary. Button and Massa were able to do it around Silverstone.

So why can't Massa and Lewis manage it? The only time I can remember them being wheel-to-wheel and everything stayed clean was in Belgium, though Massa pushed Lewis to the side as far as he legally could.


At last! A measured view of Massa's foolish move yesterday! I always thought that the collision was inevitable the moment Massa turned in. Massa is either a fool or taking his hatred of Lewis to a dangerous level.

An excellent article regarding Jenson and Lewis.


So a driver has to leave the track by getting off the racing line to let the guy behind pass?

F1 has become laughable if fans and commentators demand this.


Massa didnt need to leave the track to avoid running into Hamilton. Leave a cars width on the inside, simple, it can and has been done before.


F1 is about defending cleanly as well as atacking without pity. Felipe compromised his own race by making a stupid move. Right or wrong, if he had left a cars width he would have lost a place but maybe not had the incident.

It's all a bit of trivia anyway, he showed twice this weekend that he can't deal with kerbs, let alone a driver like LH.


Hamilton has also shown he can't deal with many things, your point?

The penalty was pathetic. Massa was on the racing line and already on the edge of what was possible to take the corner and Hamilton was jabbing his nose in a place that would only result into a collision.

Anyone expecting a driver to get off the racing line and go off the track to let another pass knows nothing about racing.


I never would have thought Button would beat Hamilton in the standings over a season, but... maybe the broad idea JB is gentle on his tyres has suited the Pirellis. I reckon Hamilton needs a change of team, he's been in or around McLaren for so long, a new environment may rejuvenate him. As for his management, lifestyle, girlfriend or dad, I don't think they're much of a factor in his performance.


Agree that Hamilton needs a new setting, i think he has been in love with mclaren since he was a child but now hes their and things are not going his way the fog has lifted and its as if his dreams have died (in terms of perfect team/person relationship). Funnily I belive Jenson has found what Hamilton always thought he would have at Mclaren.


James: off topic but I wanted to make sure you saw this.

This literally makes me sick. Montreal's race IS F1 for me. Without the Canadian connection, I can't remain loyal, can't continue globe-trotting to see far off races, can't keep reading these websites daily. Bernie needs to reward Montreal's support rather than throwing away the successes in the pursuit of more new tracks. Sigh.




Good article. I believe the dream is to add a Mexican race in the calendar sometime in the future to really crack the North American market.

Any ideas of the sequence of races in 2013. I am dreaming of going to the Indy 500 last weekend of May which is a set date followed the weekend later by Canada then the following weekend in NYC. It would be great if these three races followed on from each other.


Point of the article is that Montreal might lose out from New Jersey. That would absolutely ruin my sport for me. Not sure if you've been to Montreal's GP but it is absolutely perfect. It's an endless party, it's glamorous, and it's packed with fans. F1 can't lose that. It needs to keep its base as well as grow.


It's always been touch and go financially though, despite the stands being always full. As N America's only race it's been vital, but these two new races must be a threat.

Don't get me wrong, I'd hate to lose Montreal. It's one of my top 3 races of the year along with Monaco and Monza.

Steven Pritchard

Define "faster of the two"?

Faster for one lap, YES, Hamilaton by probably 1/4 of a second, but fastest over a race is the only thing that counts.

Buttons seems to setup is car for slower qualifying but faster race, by design? I don't know!


Lewis does not seem to be able to adapt to these tyres or this style of racing - that is a weakness. Over one lap when he can wring the car's neck he is quick, but on race day he needs a different style and approach that he just doesn't currently have.

Someone needs to tell Lewis that he isn't a legend yet, and he will only become one by achieving results again and again and again, and in several years time we can look at his career and say how good he really is / was. It has done him no favours that people were comparing him to Senna before he even won a GP! He is not Senna.

What he is though could be good if he can 'keep it real' and focus on the important things.

I would love to ask Lewis 'if you could have a career of 50 boring GP victories won from pole, or 20 victories won in legendary style from the back of the grid on a car with 3 wheels, whcih would you pick?'

Vettel would DEFINITELY pick the first.

I personally am starting to feel that Lewis has been overrated.


Any idiot would take the 20 spectacular wins. As for Lewis being over-rated? hahaha.


Yes, an idiot would pick the 20 wins option. F1 drivers aim to win more races, regardless of how entertaining or not they were.


all professional sports people are the same - a rugby / football team would rather win boring or scrappy matches than lose half and win half but play mad exciting games every time.

vettel would pick the first as he wants to win races, that's what makes him a racer. if you'd rather win 20 in style, that's one reason you're not in F1 and these guys are.



How about at the end of the season you do a review of the car performances over the season. The biggest thing that strikes me about this season is how many half chances Vetel has made work, and how many times others have dropped the ball.

A end of season look back at the possibilities could make us all realise how close the season could have been.

Andrew Flemington

The cars are in three classes. The top 3, the bottom 3 & the midfield.

The drivers are in three classes. Vettel way out on his own. Hamilton, Webber, Alonso & Button scrabbling for second place. Massa & the rest.!!

The BIG picture is that Vettel has made the rest look very average this year, including his team mate. I am sick of all the excuses from McLaren, Ferrari and their drivers. Webber is not complaining, just circumspect at letting Vettel get such a huge lead. Anyone who thinks Vettel will not match any of these drivers in the same car or indeed continue to win in a Ferrari or a McLaren is missing the point. The RBR drivers have made the car look unbeatable for the last two years, not Adrian Newey. He is just a key figure in one of the three top teams.

The ignorance of most of the F1 fans is no surprise to me. They are often one eyed in support of their favourite driver or team. What surprises me is the majority of professional sports writers who have been fooled by all the "superior car" hype.

Wake up and smell the coffee please.!!



Adrian Newey is the most important influence behind RBR's success. If you doubt that, then you know nothing about F1.