F1 Winter Break
Hamilton on new McLaren, Massa and fighting Button for world title
McLaren Honda
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2012   |  11:04 am GMT  |  129 comments

Lewis Hamilton has done a short interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport today in which he says a couple of interesting things.

One is about team mate Jenson Button, the other on Felipe Massa.

On Button he says, “Jenson is very fast and has built around himself a very strong team of technicians. I always want to beat him and I’m never happy if I don’t. But psychologically I don’t see it as a problem. He’s an open person who you can get along with.

“It would be great to fight with him for the world title in 2012, it just depends on the McLaren car.”

This is interesting in that Hamilton highlights the way that Button has integrated himself into the McLaren team and made sure to build around him the team he needs. Having the support network around you in a team is such an important part of doing well in F1.

Both men sent out Christmas cards this year and the difference in them was quiet striking; Button’s was a jokey photo of himself in the cockpit of his car surrounded by this “team of technicians”, engineers and mechanics, all wearing santa hats and pulling faces.

Hamilton’s was a simple shot of him driving his car at high speed. (McLaren’s incidentally, was a very even handed shot of the two cars side by side, racing on snow)

Although a trivial point it says something about what both wanted to say about themselves at the end of 2011.

Both men had new engineers, incidentally, last season. For 2012 the track operations side will be overseen by Sam Michael, so it will be very interesting to see what changes he makes and how the two drivers operate when seeking to get the best support for themselves.

Hamilton says that the Red Bull will be the car to beat but adds that “the new McLaren seems far superior to last year’s car.”

On Massa, with whom Hamilton had several run-ins last season, he says, “We often found ourselves close together and Massa is a difficult driver to pass because he never gives you any room. But it’s not something to over-dramatize. I have nothing against him.”

To say that another driver doesn’t give you any room, isn’t to accuse him of anything, but it does imply that he doesn’t race fairly. This was a real talking point in 2011, with Michael Schumacher also on the limit of what was correct when covering a position in a battle. And it’s likely to be a talking point again this year as the DRS wing and Pirelli short life tyres create an increasing number of overtaking opportunities.

Yesterday the FIA issued the final technical and sporting regulations for the 2012 F1 season and there is a change of wording about what is permissible when defending a line into a corner.

“More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted,” says article 20.3. “Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

In other words, as the edge of the track on the entry to the corner is usually where the racing line is to be found, the driver defending cannot move back fully onto the racing line once he’s covered off a dive down the inside.

This is likely to still be problematic this season as we have seen time and again that definitions and interpretations can vary. Judging what constitutes a car’s width when moving sideways, looking in the mirrors and braking from 200 mph for a corner isn’t always going to be clear cut.

It does give the stewards some clear guidelines to work to, but what will be needed in 2012 is consistency from the stewards in applying the rule. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

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Seesm like JB still has the edge on Hamilton in the battle for McLaren team leader...


Single lap pace! In a straight out fight Lewis will always eat JB for breakfast and therefore always lead the team


The race is not a single lap affair. Taking the life out of the tyres by simply driving fast is not going to help. Drivers who used their grey matter more did well. Sheer talent will not be enough


Chi - couldn't agree more...my point was currently Button has the edge. That could change as soon as the new car is out!


and perhaps crash in the race? I'm not doubting that Hamilton can be faster, just Button appears to have the edge currently. First team mate ro beat Lewis has to count for something, albeit in probably Hamilton's worst year...


Ade, I think it could be reasonably argued that in what has obviously been Hamilton's worst season in the top flight, Hamilton handed Button the title to their inter-team battle owing to his off-track issues. Like many athletes at the top of their game, focus and mental strength gives you the edge over your competition. If you don't have this mental fortitude, the result from physical aspect of the sport is a foregone conclusion.Let Button beat Hamilton when Hamilton is on top of his game then one can say Button is a force to be reckoned with at Maclaren. Don't get me wrong, Button is good, but he's not great.


Look at it this way. Jenson came into a team where Lewis was thought to be the golden boy. The onus was on him to make an extra effort to build a support network so he isn't treated or looked at as the outsider. So it was very pragmatic of him to do so and it's paid off. Likely, as someone supported by the team for many years it wasn't particularly necessary for Lewis to do the same. It's only a point worth noting now because of the erratic season Lewis had.


Can you tell in my hurry to get No. 1 from the typos...and yes perhaps Lewis didn't feel the need to galvanise the team around him any more, but that appears to have backfired as the other side of the garage appears to have the upper hand...


Consider also that Hamilton has taken Button's excellent performance with good grace and no animosity. Compare this with Alonso's attitude as a McLaren driver when Hamilton first started to show his talent as an F1 driver.


I said 'compare', James D, not 'because'. Please don't twist my words.


LOL So reading this string of messages - JB has an edge on LH because FA has animosity and poor grace.


Although people like to make out that behind the scenes Lewis and Jenson wont be able to get on, it does seem they have a genuine respect for each other.

Even as a big JB fan, I'd accept that over 1 lap Lewis is faster, but I think Jenson is one of the most intelligent and skillful racers on the grid.

I have no doubt in my mind that in a redbull alongside Seb, IMHO Jenson and Lewis would have keep him very much in line.

Jenson has also shown he understands the need to get everyone on side. These things arent stock cars and to maximise his chances of winning, I think he's harnessed those around him.

Some of it I think is about feeling a bit more comforable "in your own skin" as you get a bit older. Lewis still has that keeness to prove everyone wrong, but that sometimes boils over.

Just an opinion..



Do you think there is more to the fact that McLaren hasn't renewed Lewis contract? Is it usual to allow a 'top' drivers contract to go into the last year as if they are challenging it becomes a distraction.

He seems to be more philosophical these days.


Does anyone notice that in the past Hamilton always referred to McLaren as "us or the team", now he refers to them coldly as Mclaren.Not sure his heart is with McLaren anymore.


In the La Gazzetta dello Sport and as reported in Autosport, Hamilton uses the word 'we' and 'we will' a fair bit. Maybe nothing in it, just disappointment from last year still hanging over people.


Translation from Spanish/written by Spanish journalist?

Hamilton didn't necessarily say it quite like that. I'd ask to hear the audio of the interview before jumping to conclusions.


Good point!


I've felt for some while that he doesn't seem to be quite as 'at home' with McLaren as he used to be. Whilst I'm still sure he'll sign again for them, it wouldn't shock me if he didn't...


Noticed that as well. Most drivers say we, us, the team all the time now so this really stands out. Does it mean anything? Who knows.


Yes I know I'll be ridiculed for saying it, But McLaren's long term future is with Hamilton. They really should understand how fragile he is by now and should have him wrapped in cotton-wool, constantly telling him how much they love and adore him and that he is the greatest driver in the universe whether they believe it or not! He is faster than Button and he does have greater potential if his personality and personal life allow him to express it. I honestly believe that had there been a slot at Ferrari or RBR he would already have left McLaren, his heart is no longer with the team and this too will affect his performance. Is the team's heart with Lewis, really? After his trip to the RBR motor home - a terribly ill-judged and petulent move on Lewis' part?

As for the one move rule... Between DRS and this utter rot, F1 is becoming really very painful to live with. Gone will be all the great battles where drivers have fought to keep a car behind for lap after lap (one thinks of Alonso and Schumi's faster Ferrari) which is just as exciting as watching an overtake. For God's sake PLEASE JUST LET THEM RACE instead of turning the whole thing into a choreographed dance! Also, someone needs to tell the stewards that they should not feel that they have to justify their existence every time a car touches another – sometimes these things just happen, There does not ALWAYS need to be a penalty issued. I sometimes think the stewards do not believe they have done their job if they have not given someone a penalty!


Is there anyone out there...?



Happy new year Wayne.

I think your basic argument on Button vs Hamilton is fairly sound.

I'll definitely side with fduct on Vettel vs Hamilton for 1-lap pace. One thing that Vettel has clearly shown in his career is mastery of tyre heat management. This is vital for optimising one lap pace and making tyres last over a stint.

Hamiltons' qualifying pace in the refueling era was often aided by running light. Lewis always preferred to be racey with strategy, rather than playing the long game.

I could add in Hamilton's relative deficiency in high speed corners - something that he acknowledge relative to Kovalainen since he was beating him by much more in slow corners - and more flippantly, Nelson Piquet Jr in GP2 :-).

Race pace wise, provided he has read the tyres correctly, he is right up there, especially on tracks with lots of braking.




I think i recall that the drivers actually asked at the start of the season that all incidents need to be investigated. Unfortunately the stewards took that on as if all incidents need 'blame'. I'm with you, lets get back to plain old racing incidents except for the guy you just 'tosses it up the inside' with a big banzai move hoping for luck and takes someone out. The stewards need to be seen, not heard and take a lesser role in outcomes. Webber basically came out late in the season and said the same.


Couldn't agree more, you are not alone, Wayne!


Indeed. Not saying the guy is mentally fragile or the like. Not at all. But if he needs love and attention, pay your own sports psycologist to manage your thoughts and channel positive energy. Why does your team owners etc need to fawn all over you with glowing remarks? Gee, I wish I got that at my work everyday. 🙂


Haha...It's called Prima Donna syndrome mate. If you dont tell them every day how good they are they cant manage. If the guy has so many psychological issues then move over and give someone else a go already. Come back when you get yourself sorted out.


What ...? ... Get real ... Hamilton is a grown up man earning millions and he knows what he is doing whether it is right or wrong. He is not a new born baby to be wrapped up in cotton wools and given tender love and care.


Don't agree with all this LOVE talk. Not even sure where it started from but certainly think the use of the word disingenious -we are not talking about children here.

Having said that let us look at what it is that is lacking:

1. Mclaren have shown themselves incapable of bringing home 1 &2 s on the scale required when you have 2 world champions driving for you.

In 2011 this hurt Lewis more than Jensen. (

That has to be Sam's challenge this season- note how in Abu Dhabi both cars came in on the same lap providing better chances for that.)

2. A lot of Lewis races were compromised by poor initial decisions-why was he not sent out for banker in Monaco? And in view of Latham s inexperience, why did Prew not override? Prew role and performance was underwhelming-if button had been recipient of these decisions Prew & co would have scrutinised further by media & Whitmarsh knows it (one of earlier was a suggestion of difference of opinion on strategy and Button cleverly used BBC to question this putting Mclaren on defensive). This is why Lewis is in a difficult position.

The argument that Lewis shld have made the decision falls apart when u consider Malaysia. I suspect Canada frustration trip to redbull was culmination of monaco/malaysia then Canada quali where at certain level he was not getting the SUPPORT he needed(note I have not used LOVE).

Yes Lewis requires more SUPPORT from Mclaren.

To prempt any arguments on this objectively review how season panned out with the competition.

This is my formula for how much support Alonso/Vettel/Lewis had over 2011: Vettel+rocky+Marko+horner vs Alonso+engineer+Luca+domencilli (helped by the Massa meltdown) vs Lewis ± Latham(the - is from lack of experience/ 2012 I will change that to out of his depth) ±whitmarsh ± Prew.


You obviously have no concept of sports phycology what so ever.



I largely agree with your points about the psychological side of sport. I think there needs be a realisation here that whilst F1 drivers may be super talented at driving, underneath that they are human beings like the rest of us, and therefore there is potential for life events to impact performance, just as would happen with any job.

Just because they earn the money, doesn't mean they should be expected to deal with psychological issues any differently.


Wayne, not sure how much of a sports psychologist I am but here is my ‘two bob’s worth’.

As RB did toVettel in 2010, someone needed to put their arm around Lewis half way through last season and have a quiet chat with him. Someone he respected. A mentor. If it was clear to most of us that his mind was elsewhere then surely others did too. Something that on the surface didn’t seem to happen. And we all have an opinion of his new management group of last year.

But more importantly in regards to your comments on his ‘potential, personality and private life’, these are all things that Lewis can control as we all have to at times. At the end of the day you can wrap him up only so much until reality hits home which by then the drop is far worst than it should have been.

He has put himself in this position by his decisions and I think he is now the one that needs to get out of it. Maybe the long involvement in McLaren has actually done him more harm in the long run. Hey, I like the guy and would like to see him win but he does need himself to do it now, not others


C'mon... with all the support Lewis has had over the past how many years, and an annual contract with more $$$s than Jenson's... how much love does a guy need? I find it somewhat pathetic that so many people make so many excuses when the guy screws up... Look at the dignity with which Massa accepted defeat in Brazil 2008, look at the dignity with which Alonso handled his divorce... there is none of this in Lewis's life. He has been spoilt most of his driving life and doesn't like having to 'work' for it... I totally admit that, when he is on it, he is sublime and supreme, but there are many days when he is far from on it... I think a team change would enable him to work out a few things and realize that he has to work to make the team 'his'; he is not anointed by a higher being... like the rest of us, he has to work to achieve: this is something JB seems to understand very clearly and uses it to his advantage. Whilst I wish them both good fortune in 2012, I hope JB continues to hold the upper hand as he is a better overall package...


I am not making excuses for him, saying that he is fragile and needs constant love and attention is a negative not a positive. If I had invested tens, perhaps hundreds of millions in Lewis Hamilton I would give him all the love his ego requires as long as it got the best out of him. As would any logical business person.

JB was the best overall package in McLaren last year, winning as many races in his best ever year as Lewis who had his worst ever year. Whereas Lewis has the potential to be the best package in all of F1. It's just a case of right support and right attitude from the man himself... If he can loose his petulance and sense of entitlement. He should never loose his arrogance, however, Prost, Senna, Mansell, Schumacher were all supremely arrogant and it served them very well indeed.


@ Wayne - it's because LH has slipped behind the development curve that I no longer consider him to be the best or fastest driver over 1 lap. Vettel has firmly taken that mantle away from him.


Wayne to always refer to the rookie season of Hamilton just goes to show how he has not developed as a driver since then with Alonso or Vettel if you talk about the past with them its just to know how they have developed. But for Hamilton its all about him beating Alonso this is 2012 it would mark the beginning of Hamilton's 6th season in F1 and to still look at his rookie season as his best year it tells its own story every season he finds a way to bottle it when it matters the most especially towards the end of the season, he has no business tangling with Massa for that long over the season.

Also his pole lap was slightly over exaggerated just because he was the only person to beat a redbull

Its best for him to get on with the job.

Also him being the fastest over a single lap I think that's a myth as over the 5 seasons hes been in F1 he not won the dhl fastest lap award and does not have the most pole positions so where did u get your facts from?


fduct, an old fact is still a fact regardless of how much you obviously wish it wasn't or how many excuses you make for Alonso. We don't dismiss Senna's beating of Prost just because it happened two decades ago.

Besides, looking at various articles here and elsewhere, taking into account opinions of those close to and involved in the sport, there are many who still believe that LH is the fastest over a lap and that Alonso is the overall best over a race weekend.

I do agree completely that LH has slipped behind the development curve, however.


Vettel is regarded as the fastest driver over a single lap now. Welcome to 2012 ! And yes this is car neutral, 1 pole position in a McLaren per year is not that great, could have been a handful.

The Alonso at McLaren story is getting old now, they had the best car, Alonso was new at McLaren and the chemistry was never there, he very much underperformed. Hamilton matched him as a rookie, so McLaren wanted Hamilton as their number one driver for the future and Alonso was out of fashion. But the McLaren Alonso wasnt the Alonso of Renault and Ferrari calibre and is not the one Hamilton has to compete with in the future. Same as the 2010 Button isnt the same in 2011/12 or the Vettel of 2009/10 is now upgraded to the Vettel of 2011. Hamilton in so many ways has been left behind in his development curve over the last 3 years. Never mind the potential greatest stuff, lets see if he can catch up to Vettel, Button and Alonso first.


Stallion, I only said the guy has the potential, just like SV and FA. He did beat Alonso in the same car in his debut season, he is widely regarded as the fastest driver in the world over a single lap, he is a wdc - surely this is enough to objectively say 'he has the potential to be the best'?


why can't great drivers like lewis grow some balls and drive brilliantly without having the need to feel a huge amount of love and treated as a god by the team. mclaren dont dislike lewis and if he’s paying visits to red bull why should they love him?

damon hill (not one of the all time greats I know) won his title knowing all year frentzen was replacing him the following season.


""Whereas Lewis has the potential to be the best package in all of F1"".

How did you arrive at this conclusion? am really interested in your reasons for this.


I agree!



Pretty much agree on all your points. After last season, Hamilton clearly needs to “feel” the support of the team, and there is nothing wrong with that; Sam will no doubt see to it that Hamilton gets that support, overtly and behind the scenes. Button is simply different, clearly a more easy-going character that attracts the friendship and support of those working for him.

Agree also with your views on DRS etc, although I fear such matters are here to stay. My own thoughts are that it is preferable to aim to distinguish a degree of skill between F1 drivers, all of whom are supremely talented. One way of doing so is increasing the potential for the number of mistakes they make during a race – they’re still human, so they’re still fallible! Bring back manual gear shift and we’ll naturally up the number of missed gears whilst defending under pressure. However, I say this knowing full well it’s not going to happen regardless that “flappy paddles” have not made an impact on normal road cars barring the odd exception.

Oh well, looking forward to testing.

P.S. intrigued that Hamilton can say the new car “feels” superior to last years – presumably through simulator work.


Can't disagree with you Andrew, as for Hamilton saying that the car "feels" superior - that is something he was saying last year as well, back before the McLaren proved to be 2 seconds off the pace until they adapted the RBR exhaust design.

Also agree that Sam could make the difference, the guy is highly intelligent and not 'McLarenised' yet. Shame he was made a bit of a scapegoat at Williams.


" [Lewis] is widely regarded as the fastest driver in the world over a single lap"

What lap would that be Wayne? 2011 stats show Webber was the fastest over a racing lap and Vettel over a quali lap. Which 'lap' is Lewis regarded the fastest over? A simulator lap in his new and improved car maybe?


The rule change only comments on car positions on the approach to the corner not out of the corner.


Additionally, I'd can't wait to see how the 1 move rule will work in practice when a car is trying to overtake on the outside. Does the defending car have to leave enough room on the outside all the way through the corner and on past the exit of the corner? It has always been the case that cars attempting an overtake on the outside would be gradually squeezed off the track and I see no problem with this at all. Afterall, if a driver is attempting to overtake on the outside he is the driver that has taken up the sub-optimal position not the defender and he should have to live with it or do something amazing to make it stick. Plus, won't holding the outside knowing that the guy in front of you cannot retake the racing line (even beyond the apex?) always put the defending car at a disadvantage comming OUT of the corner?


"Judging what constitutes a car’s width when moving sideways, looking in the mirrors and braking from 200 mph for a corner isn’t always going to be clear cut."

Also a car can go off track until only a fraction of a wheel is in contact with the white line and still be considered "on the track" (as a ball is "in" in tennis) So what is the width of the car then?


According to the rules, the white line is part of the racetrack, but the other side of the white line is not. That was designed to stop drivers taking shortcuts with the whole car on the kerbs. I don't know if there was every the need to enforce the rule last year, however.


it would be interesting to hear what the insiders think of the "overtaking rule" as i think they should be allowed to just race. This is the pinnacle of all motor sport in both machinery and driver skill, but now they have clarified this stupid rule about one move blocking. Im not saying they should weave all over the place, but they are the best drivers in the world and they havnt got to the top by being rubbish, they have a brain so let them race with it, its what they do best.




Some of us remember the times when drivers were afraid of their car touching another because they knew it could lead to someone being killed. In those circumstances they always left room for one another and instinctively knew who had the line, and when they'd been beaten into a corner.

Nowadays they're driving what amounts to mobile safety cocoons, where the odds of another driver being killed if you run into him being very low. And even if you did run him off the track and he was injured the powers that be would be more likely to blame the constructor of the car than the driver who drove aggressively.

Introduction of this rule is designed to put back the feeling of sportsmanship that has been lost in recent years. It's artificial, of course, but it's better than the alternative -- introducing fragile cars built like they did in the 1970s.


Even if you leave a cars width, how can you move back to racing line, WITHOUT changing direction more than once, anyway?

There are more questions than ever after this announcement, and my fear is that it's being over regulated.


Love the McLaren PR with the Christmas Card of the drivers racing side by side. It's almost as if they're having a dig at Red Bull and Ferrari by saying, 'Look, we treat our drivers equally'.

I think Hamilton has realised the importance of having a strong support team around him. It will be interesting to see what he does with this management company (I forget the name) he decided to take on last year. It seems to me like they might be very good at earning him more money, but that's where their support ends. I am only speculating here.

Personally, I loved watching Button drive last season. Watching Hamilton was most frustrating at times! I think a key learning for him is that with the DRS/KERS/Pirellis, you don't have to try and win the race on the first lap.

Looking forward to F1 2012!


It doesn't mention which side the defending driver must leave the car's width - inside our outside of the defending car....


Doesn't define defending either... I think though the point is if you leave the racing line you shouldn't be allowed to retake it because your nose is ahead of your apponents.

Why not if cars are along side each other the car on the left cannot drive within 1 cars width of the right side of the track and vice versa regardless of location on track?


the racing line is the racing line - the rule means you cant just swing back on to it and say "i was ahead, so the racing line is mine".

taking india as an example, massa would have to have had left a cars width on the inside, which is where the racing line for the corner is, and that would have given Lewis enough room to make the corner... maybe (as it would have been tighter than normal for him). So not a clear cut advantage to the persuing driver, but a much greater one than existed in 2011.


True! Are you an attourney? 🙂


"It doesn’t mention which side the defending driver must leave the car’s width – inside our outside of the defending car…."

While returning to the racing line - so the side on which the racing line is, relative to the line the defending driver took.


Your interpretation. I guarantee if this isn't specified to the letter in the regulations, this will become a bone of contention at some point...."but sir, I left him room on the outside on the approach to the corner, whilst I was moving back to the racing line from defending"....

Classic F1 rule making, implement a rule, then add detail, then have a think about it, then add more detail...


I think your penultimate paragraph sums it up really. Stewards must exercise some discretion as concentrating on how large a car's width is will be the last thing on the drivers' mind.

However, this does not cover all the collisions that occured last season. At the Indian GP where Massa didn't exactly move off-line to defend his position, Hamiltion managed to get on the inside of him after getting a better drive out of the previous corner and they both wanted the same piece of tarmac. Can't remember the outcome the stewards gave, but that's a driving incident for me.

Finally, the most interesting thing about this new rule is the tactical implications it might bring to F1. Drive off-line (on the dirty tarmac) and prehaps lose the chance to drive on the racing-line, or stick to the racing-line as a form of damage limitation.




I don't quite know what you mean here James:

"To say that another driver doesn’t give you any room, isn’t to accuse him of anything, but it does imply that he doesn’t race fairly". I interpreted it as a characteristic that Lewis had experienced with Felipe and one which he is aware of. It could be suggested Lewis is complimenting Felipe for his defence by not allowing an opponent room? If he's not accusing Felipe of such a thing, its hard to suggest he's implying something his not critical of in my opinion. Good article though as usual.



I agree. It's not the job of the driver in front to allow the guy behind them to take the position. Of course, Lewis may think most drivers are hard to pass since he made a habit of crashing into everyone, Massa most of all...


"To say that another driver doesn’t give you any room, isn’t to accuse him of anything, but it does imply that he doesn’t race fairly."

How can you make that statement based on those words?

I think that is a wrong assessment of what Hamilton was saying.

I think he was saying something more along the lines of: Massa holds a tight line and won't let go of of places easily even if his car is clearly the weaker. Where as, for example, Alonso may let someone go in order to avoid an incident and ensure he nails some points. Massa is very determined and he is, after all, a 'racer' (and a very good one) who by definition wants to win.

He was not implying Massa was an unfair driver at all.




Why would the car in front be expected to leave the door open? In fact, commentators accuse drivers of "leaving the door right open" and "being asleep at the wheel" when this happens.

If someone faster is behind Massa some may expect himto move over, but as a racer he has no requirement to do so. It is on them to pass him.


Hamilton just needs to concentrate 100% on F1 and get his head around the Pirelli tyres which were the main contributors to his "poor" season. The rules in F1 today suit Jenson's driving style perfectly, but if both drivers are on it I would expect Lewis to come out on top..


The difference between xmas cards from Button/Hamilton is not really surprising in my eyes. I believe it sums up both personalities exactly. Lewis is a great driver but very complex 'psychologically'(IMO). Whereas Button comes across more as the 'lighter natured' guy. Even though Lewis may not mean it, it does comes across (my view) that he is still 'wound up' about McLarens support to JB and the Massa incidents. On Massa not givng any room, that could be said about a lot of drivers to Lewis defence.(although i must say that on a whole, only Webber and Alonso seem to give each other 'enough room').

On the point of consistency amongst stewards, whilst it is ideally aimed for, practically we will never get it unless the same stewards AND same ex-driver are used at each event and then there will be the odd 50-50 that can go either way. We need to get back to 'racing incidents' and not the 'blame game' where someone needs to be penalised. It will also reduce the 'perceived' favouring or 'agnst' that some readers have with certain stewards against certain drivers.

Who thinks Article 20.3 will be tested in the first race???..i do!


Utlimately, McLaren management have failed to extract the best from Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren should really be backing their young prodigy above and beyond Button if they are really serious about wanting to when against RBR whose focus is Vettel, and Ferrari whose focus is Alonso.

McLaren choose not to maximise like these 2 teams hence they will forever be paricipating the championship with one hand tied behind their back.

Ultimately this is a strategic error by McLaren management.


I'm a big mclaren fan, but I think you should stop burying your head in the sand.

The Redbull was the standout car of 2011 by some margin. Lewis was inconsistent and had lots of comings together with Massa, wasnt in the right place mentally for a lot of the year.

Placing the blame at the door of Martin Whitmarsh is just poor in my view.

richard cummins

At last some sense!! Get rid of Whitmarsh, I would not let him run a bath! Lewis is the faster driver in the team, we all know that. So until Maclaren drop the "no Number one"driver status they may win the drivers title but not the Constructors.


it is martin whitmarsh when watchin an interview you would think jenson is the only driver in Mclaren. all lewis's problems started in melbourne 2010 when they stopped him when they didnt need to. they look out for button more then lewis. Time to go martin.


It was up to Hamilton whether to pit or not and he did so. Button read the conditions better in that race.


Dont you mean vice versa?


Didn't you hear? RBR also have categorically stated they have no no.1 driver either. *Cough.


Hi James,

Is it possible to post the postcards mentioned? Many thanks.


It's difficult one to answer, and there are many factors to consider, some visible, others not so, but not in the least the Pirelli tyres. I think there was much frustration with Lewis last year both with the car and McLaren, and on top of that his personal problems. However I think he will have learnt a few things in the process, and I suspect he will be a lot stronger this year. It sounds as though McLaren have pulled out the stops on the MP4-27, so lets hope it's a good one that will allow Hamilton's natural talent to shine through to take on Red Bull.


Hello James,

Off topic!!

How do the F1 cars start the Brazilian GP?

There is a visible slope for the starting grid.

Do the drivers use toe heel technique or anything like that?




Good question. They hold the car with the brake, clutch is done with the hands remember on the steering wheel


It is a trivial point. Do people generally agonise what the scene on a Christmas card may or may not say about them? I tend not to think so. I know I don’t, and a red Robin on a snowy background, says absolutely nothing about my state of mind or the state of the person’s mind that sent it to me.


There seems to be a point of view amongst F1 drivers that you can take your line into a corner and if another driver is there "then that's too bad".

I hate this point of view. A race in athletics isn't contested using the theory "stop your competitors running past you at all costs", and neither should it in F1. It's Motor *Racing* not Motor blocking!

Massa typifies this and it's at best an unintelligent way of going racing. You can argue all day long if Lewis should have been there or not but if he is, and you turn in, you shall crash. If you give each other room you can fight it out.

Why is this so difficult to comprehend for some F1 drivers?!


Ist it so annoying when people get in the way?

Why dont we solve the issue entirely and have the 'race' being replaced by a time trail, no pesky cars to overtake, and no blocking!


The problem is that if the other drivers know that you will always concede the corner if they have a go down the inside then you become a soft touch. If the drivers think that you won't concede and will turn in then they are less likely to try to overtake.

So you need to suffer a few accidents to show the other drivers that you won't back out. Probably Massa is anxious to show Hamilton that he won't back out so not to bother to try to overtake him. Hamilton on the other hand is the best overtaker (with Kobayashi) and wants to show that he can and will overtake and will never back out himself.

So it's not a simple issue.


Massa was heavily criticised in mid-2008 for being too easy to overtake (e.g. Hockenheim 2008 vs Hamilton). Since then he's gone too far the other way IMO, like driving into Hamilton with all 4 wheels off the circuit later that year in Fuji, and several of the incidents with Hamilton tis year.

Not saying Hamilton is blameless in the incidents obviously, but Massa certainly seems to see it as a badge of honour to crash rather then let people (especially Hamilton) pass him.

Ultimately though, the "fued" between them damaged both drivers a lot this year, and Hamilton more than Massa because he is generally held in higher regard.


"it takes two to tango"

If hamilton knows that Massa won't leave room, then why on earth did he think it was a good idea to pass him in that corner?

Also, might add that few drivers even attemped passes in that corner to begin with. This is typical of hamilton: attempt passes in odd corners because he is impatient and does not want to wait for the "proper" moment.


I fully agree, it takes two to Tango, and I think that by now Hamilton has accepted that he wasn't being smart this year, and too impatient/clumsy trying to pass Massa too often.

I also entirely disagree with second paragraph. Wait for the "proper" moment, using the DRS on the straight, as a good F1 drivers should? No.

I am really glad to see drivers try a daring, unexpected overtake. They should be smart about it (like, Webber in Spa on Alonso), and Hamilton obviously wasn't always this year, especially with Massa. But F1 where everyone waits for the designated "passing point" to pass would make watching F1 dull.


Maybe he's taking Senna's famous comment too seriously? The one about if you don't go for a gap, you're not a racer.

Riccardo Consulini

I think Lewis will probably beat Button in 2012. At the end of the day, when it comes to raw pace he's still the quickest of them. But Jenson is better managing risks and conserving the car in general. RedBull will have a decent car as always and Ferrari will probably make a come back as 2011 was an "off" year due to the calibration problems they had on their wind tunnel and Aldo Costa's extremely conservative approach. Ferrari confirmed their superiority over McLaren in 2010. I don't think Lewis will waste another year at Mclaren if they have only the third best car.


On a point about Massa not giving any room... I believe Mark Webber is known to be a very hard racer as well. Haven't heard anyone complain.


I was just thinking this as well.

Riccardo Consulini

True. The reason for this is: Even having a difficult year, Mark spent most of the year in front of Massa, Schumacher, Maldonado and etc. Hamilton on the other hand......


Couldn't have said it any better. Not only does some F1 drivers find it difficult to comprehend but viewers too. Sure Hamiltons moves have been optimistic sometimes but most of them legit. If drivers would simply give room we would see a lot more battles like Hamilton v Webber @ Korea. But instead we get things like Hamilton v Massa @ India because drivers simply refuse to give room.


The button vs lewis dynamic is very interesting for a variety of reasons.

Classic case of how the right support allows a company to get the best out of staff. Even with Button’s 2nd in championship I don’t see him as a better racer but i can envisage a series of seasons where his half of the garage continues to beat Lewis’ side.

Being a team requires relationships that transcend work – pub visits, practical jokes playing them on others and being the victim of pranks etc towards developing a cultural fit. i think his side of garage r ok on this one, with a couple of technical weaknesses the race engineers side, but when one goes upwards from Phiiip prew , Is Lewis on the same wavelength culturally? Does he speak their language? if you go just by forum activity on incidents involving him you see immediately that his comments/statements are almost always overly analysed, dissected and misinterpreted by fans, spectators, media alike to the extent that one can facetiously immediately answer - NO!.

Lets also not forrget that 2010 Mclaren bent themselves backwards not to appear a one driver race team and BBC staff have always aligned itself with Button. This season it took a life of its own and went somewhat out of hand, in my opinion. because culturally and historically the BBC is pro Jensen Whitmarshes Mclaren are now pandering to this.

Not to take anything from Jensen who has rightly worked hard at developing all the relationships he needs to do a good job and to be seen to be doing a great job. However, in the long run is Mclaren best served by an underachieving Lewis? In a purely academic sense it is intriguing to see such clear cut evidence of unrealised potential due to office politics/culture differences.

however as a frustrated fan of his racing I am glad that Sam Michel is not British & hope he eschews the british media pressure for the so called “underdog”. (fat chance if whitmarsh is his mentor however if he has access to Neal or Dennis there may be hope).

I do so wish that Jacob was Lewis’ engineer rather than Latham (with no other grief against latham, apart from a few instances of not being able to multi task/ or find the appropriate gaps in qualifying but mainly not convinced about his hustling ability when up against Jacob & prew).

My wish list for Lewis is that apart from minor adjustments in his mindset to account for full tanks on rubbish tyres- which he already started doing last season- that

1. He leaves his personal business personal (i don’t blame him for the media attention considering his high profile girlfriend and that Whitmarsh was the one to cynically direct attention to his personal issues) however i do blame him for allowing personal issues to impact his performance and hope that does not happen again.

2. He does not compromise his driving style but instead the race team is tweaked to accommodate it – come back Jacob please!

3. Mclaren moves all the ruthless Nerds to Lewis side of the garage (those whose egos are only satisfied with a race win and thus have little interest in intra team politics or popping down to the pub for bonding sessions). Come back Jacob and bring your little friends with you!

4. and (if he can’t bring himself to exhibit blind loyalty like other team Principles)Whitmarsh holds his tongue from negative comments when Lewis is under intense scrutiny.

5. Failing any or all of the above Lewis pays close attention to switching to Mercedes even if only for a couple of years.

James a poll suggestion going into the new season: Who is the underdog at Mclaren?


I think you will find that Dave Robson is Jenson's race engineer. Give the Jenson knocking a break!


Jacob was his race engineer at the start and engineered Jensens first two wins 2010. He went off for health reasons from controversial turkey 2010 onwards. He was back for another spell end of this year. It would appear even Mclaren can’t make up their minds as website has switched between the two engineer names twice!

Both appear to know their stuff so I say Jensen keep Dave(smooth assassin) and Jacob(ruthless nerd) take over for Lewis.

Disclaimer: Brackets are just my impressions of how they operate.


Let me ask you a question what is mclaren meant to do slow down Button or concentrate on Lewis so he can crash out in a race in other teams where there's a number 1 driver does Vettel or Alonso go out race after race due to a crash or making rookie errors. As fans we forget Mclaren is a business and they would optimize their race team to get the best out of it.


No don't slow down button. However give them both equally (highly)skilled Engineers - cut out the underperforming chaff.

They r the ones boasting about their Driver line up they have a responsibility to support both to the fullest.

Whitmarsh also has specific responsibilities. Some of the negative press was down to him. Look at how Ferrari closed ranks around Massa's Engineer or how Williams managed to convince the public that Hamilton had to take 30% blame for Maldonado Spa. Compare that to Whitmarsh calling a press conference to ramble on about his position after just a few poor headlines or directing the Media to Lewis personal issues, making fun of him in Korea (if u don't show value for ur driver, irrespective, then the competition will engage in a free for all and why not)or even his management of FOTA.


Thats just a joke about the race engineer bit and the Whitmarsh bit.

If you treat yourself as a joke people would make jokes out of you simple.


Stalilion GP, as usual your passion for Vettel flaws your analysis of another driver.

Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid and no number of lights to flags by Vettel in a RedBull that is superior can change that.


Nonsense. Where did he show a bias for Vettel? And Vettel is already as good as Alonso- it's your bias towards Alonso that makes you think otherwise.

Junk in my trunk

Oh, the irony.


Personally the thing that scares me about Jenson isn't his speed but his consistency & his general awareness of where his car's physical boundaries are which quality is important for avoiding crashes e.g. his fight with Webber at Abu-Dhabi 2011.

Also the Pirelli tyres have given Jenson a boost for I couldn't believe how fast he was going without losing the performance of his tyres e.g. Suzuka & Hungary, so yes I have been having a couple of sleepless nights.

But one major drawback with Jenson is his inability to get heat in his tyres fast enough which fact affects his qualifying (Vettel showed in 2011, qualifying is still important) and that's why I highly doubt Jens has another WDC in him (hasn't been on people since Monaco 2009).

Sure, if he got another bullet car like he did with Brawn, he would have had another shot at the title but unfortunately for Jens is this time he has a beast for a teammate & more importantly one that has been to hell and back.

So Lewis shouldn't think of fighting with Jens for the honours for poor qualifying from Jenson which later creates poor starts will rule out Jenson from the 2012 show down early on seeing as Ferrari & possibly Mercedes are coming to the free-for-all 2012 buffet.

As for the point of Jens building the team around him, No Sir! Jens hasn't built a team of technicians around him but rather his biggest fan Whitmarsh did that for him for I recall when Jens came into the team, he was given Hammy's technicians while Lewis got Jens' people.

So me thinks, it's more of a case of one driver being favoured over the other, simples but hey, ironically this is good news for us Hammy fans for it would be quite embarrassing for the favoured one to get beaten at his own game.

Now to the point of Massa, yes, Hammy has stated it perfectly right there & just goes to show most of his penalties in 2011 were unfair while people like Schumi get away with murder.


Interesting of all top drivers seeking glory in 2012, Lewis is by far the most cautious while the rest are filled with bravado.


Phil Prew, Lewis's Race Engineer was promoted to Principle Race Engineer before the 2010 season started.

As a Mclaren fan it's getting boring reading how McLaren favour Jenson Button. They are a racing team first and foremost with two very good drivers. In the end the drivers are employees and the team comes first! If one driver is not delivering, you try to get him back to his best, but you lean towards the other the one who is doing what he is paid to do.

I've no doubt thst Lewis will come good, but it up to him and no-one else.


By your point Heiki should still be there while Mclaren try and get him up to speed. In view of potential of the car Prew as chief race engineer did not work (I expect Mclaren know this hence Sam appointment).

As a mclaren fan it might make ncomfortable reading for you but, if things don't improve, you'll have to get used to more "discussion" of the subject.


HK had two years to show he could deliver for McLaren, sadly he couldn't. At no stage was HK close to Hamilton, It was time for him to go, you can only give so much help. He went to Lotus and to his credit he is now rebuilding his stock. If the same situation arises with Hamilton or Button, I would expect them to make the same decision. So no, it won't be uncomfortable reading, but it is an argument to which I have read nothing that would convince me that JB is the 'Favoured Son'


Lewis did not get "Jens" people in 2010. He got Latham who had just moved from simulator stint and whose previous Race experience was when Kimi was at Mclaren 2006! and even then he was assisting.

i still don't get that.

Jakob and Prew already worked together as Lewis Engineering team and not only is this ready made synergy in place for Jensen but Lewis is given an Engineer with limited race experience.

This lack of experience was very obvious 2011 season even if the focus was on Lewis race incidents overlooked it.

1.malaysia tyre gate: this had the fingers of the strategy team on it at the time however, Lewis requesting a particular set of tyres but having his request ignored was probably the start of his poor season. he still felt very frustrated about it a week later so obviously he was not convinced by any explanation he was given.

2. china -Lewis ignoring engineer advice to go on and win

3. Monaco no banker lap

4. Canada qualifying-whatever frustrated Lewis there to extent that he walked into Redbull garage on the Saturday and was in a frenzy the next day.

5. Silverstone fuel error and lack of info

6. Germany qualify "specifically thanking his team for finding the gap" this was incredibly telling because it pointed to a deficiency that he must have recognised as existing.

then during race his engineer decides to warn him to "look after tyres" while he is dicing with Webber!!! distracting him and allowing webber to pass.

7. hungary tyre strategy?? perhaps strategy team had input into this but really.

8.9.10. qualifying gap problems in several races from spa onwards (apart from Korea and Abu Dhabi) which brought him too close for comfort with Massa - although Singapore was affected by bad luck tyre puncture.

India faux pas was solely Lewis fault but you sometimes here radio warnings during practise. Mclaren should have alerted Lewis re: the yellow flag.

when listed out like this I do worry for his 2012 season campaign if the racing team does not pull their socks up. Jensen had his share of bad luck but more freak accidents rather than questionable decisions.



Amazing! Thanks for the info.

As for the Lewis yellow flag in India, well I wouldn't put the majority of the blame on his shoulders seeing as the green light was showing when it happened.

Only one fellow (that didn't get the memo) was still waving the yellow flag & that's what caused all the confusion.


Does this mean the driver who has had to leave a cars width on entry to the corner cannot aim his car for the apex?


it used to be in F1 that this closing the door on your opponent when he got half way past you never happened twice because you got killed if you did it ....I think it was fangio who said that in 10 years of F1 30 other drivers died

but since the senna era moving off your line then coming back to cut off your opponent has started because the cars are so much safer

so , to my mind , the driver who is quickest at getting alongside another car is hamilton ...if McLaren give him half a chance in 2012 I expect him to be the one to give the RB's a run for their money even though i expect the RB's to be faster as they have been the last 3 years [ once they had DD in 2009 ]

button won the WDC in 2009 because he kept his head and just racked up the points once his car became about 3rd in the pecking order , before that he extracted the maximum ; if webbo had done that in 2010 he would have done the same , but he felt he had to win one of the last races and it cost him ; vettel had a car that was never bettered in 2011 and did a brilliant job

2012 ? won't be putting my money on until after jerez ...having said that I was shocked at how bad McL was pre-season in 2010 and look how they improved ! not good in 2011 and ended up almost in the RB category ; and ferrari have the deepest pockets and have regrouped ...what can they achieve with a top driver !!!


I think the new passing rule accurately reflects what most F1 fans believe should be allowed when defending yourself, i.e: to be able to change direction but also be allowed to slot back in a decent line to take the corner while leaving enough space for the car behind to outbrake you from the outside.

As James said, the key will be the consistancy from the stewards in applying this rule.


If these new rules applied last year, Hamilton wouldn't have ended with the stewards as many times as he did last season.

In fact the new rules vindicate Johnny Herbert's decision when he gave Massa a penalty at the Indian GP.

Hamilton stated a fact. Even though Hamilton's decisions on the race track this season haven't always been the best to say the least, but Massa has never been a fair racer. He's proving that he learnt a lot from a certain M. Shumacher.

We saw wheel to wheel racing between Webber and Vettle, Alonso and Vettle, Webber and Button, Hamilton and the 3 of them, but he only ran into Massa everytime he attempted to overtake him.


I agree with you on your comparison of Massa to MS's defending style (in 2011 at least). Prost was the same if I remember correctly. The idea being "if you're on my line when I turn in then the consequences are your fault".

I disagree, however, with your (anti) justification of Herbert's penalty on Massa in India. 2012 rules are in no way applicable to 2011 events.


"Massa is a difficult driver to pass because he never gives you any room"

This is an interesting one. Until this year, or perhaps last year, this is not something I would ever have said about Felipe Massa. The guy used to routinely get absolutely slaughtered in an overtaking battle, leaving the ideal overtaking line clear on wide corner entries and the like. Perhaps this was only when he was driving a front-running car, as he was more worried about losing points?

Lewis is right, Felipe's new tactic is to give no room at all, but he has every right to do so. Lewis has made a lot of great overtakes but he's also done a lot of what Brundle likes to call "leaving it up to you whether or not to have a crash" when speaking of Senna - i.e. sticking his front wing somewhere dangerous and hoping the leading driver backs down. I was really struck by this watching the Beeb's season review last week, the pass on Button in China being a great example.


Can,t wait for the season to start.I would love to see Lewis win,win,win and then not do interviews with the BBC or Brundell. Let Whitmarsh do the interviews and listen to how he still tries to bull up Jenson.How no-one at Maclaren has not bothered to sit down and tell Whitmarsh to either stand by lewis or leave is a mystery to me. No doubt that little Irish fella would then be telling us all....."I always said LH was the one".Good bye to BBC and good ridence.


In other words, pull out a red carpet and let people just pass you, do not defend or get a penalty. The art of defending is now illegal.

This has become a fake sport which tries to cater the lowest common denominator with easy overtaking through gimmicks and now regulations.

What's next, a speed limit if someone is 5 seconds behind you?


Good Luck Hamilton, Sure You will win 2012 F1 Title.

I think this is useful link for 2012 F1:

2012 F1 cars launching dates



Hamilton is a racer and overtaker. Button is a smooth driver. Vettel is a mixture of both. Unfortunately the new rules keep benefiting those who look after their tires rather than actually race and overtake. The introduction of KERS and DRS meant that being an Overtaker is actually a bad thing, just damaging your tires more (now the only strategy F1 has, but that's another debate). Cars now can just wait until the right time and let science do it's thing. Yes Hamilton over one lap (and a competitive car) can be unstoppable, but he is never going to be the best when looking after Pirelli's is paramount.


Button built a good team of technicians around him Or did Whitmarsh [mod] give him all of Lewis' old crew members to make him feel welcome?


Re: Above comment about BBC & Brundle.

Brundle is actually fair and neutral. It may not come across that way all the time but that is because of his “grumpy old man” tendencies and the occasional error/snap judgement..

 Abu Dhabi he could not understand all that “support bubble” speak. To be honest, while I understand it better than Brundle I still did not see his need to discuss it with the press. On the flip side stuff like that helps them fill up page columns so the press should actually be a bit more grateful to Lewis for the talking points he generates-I'm sure James i .


I do find it interesting that all the British Media comments are from this one source. Is it an Italian paper and if so why go with them rather than a British one?


There was a lot of scrutiny of his management company last season would like to see them being more strategic in how they manage him & his PR this year. Hope this is the start of a more clever campaign.



I have to admit, I'm pulling whats left of my hair out with some of these posts (and as you know I dont have much left anyway).

It seems most Lewis (rather than McLaren fans and Lewis fans) see McLaren as solely at fault for last year.

I think thats pie in the sky. I'd be really interested to hear your view on the engineering side.

My view is JB has worked hard to put a good team around him. I very much doubt there is any benefit or ulterior motive by mclaren to as someone put it (Give jenson all of Lewis old crew members).


Anything that even sniffs of a comparison between Button and Hamilton seems a guaranteed way of drumming up discussion and debate. I'm so interested to see how Hamilton develops (or doesn't) over the next couple of years. For sheer speed and talent, I don't think anybody is close but the tyres and increased emphasis on strategy seem to have created the opportunity to level out differences in talent.

I think this season is crucial for Hamilton. There has to be some perspective when viewing last season - it was undeniably the worst of his career and arguably the best of Button's, and yet the gap between them wasn't huge. If Hamilton doesn't start strong this year, I can see him increasingly seen as second tier and he may find himself having to find an opportunity elsewhere, but having to wait until Ferrari and their second driver situation becomes clear and also having to wait to see where/if Vettel moves on.... a prospect that would have seemed unfathomable a couple of years ago.


Lewis Hamilton, the marmite of F1 drivers...

Doesn't matter which way you look at it, JB is the first driver to beat LH with the same machinery in a racing season. Nobody expected it and just because LH had his worst season in many people's eyes doesn't take anything from that achievement. Alonso, regarded as probably the most complete driver in F1 didn't manage it, and most others have been quite a distance behind. The gap from JB to LH was greater this year than it was from LH to JB last year, so go and figure. Over the last 2 seasons I'd still say JB has done a better job...

LH needs a good season else he might struggle to find a team willing to take him on, especially with his tendancy to criticise the team in public and make some terrible PR blunders...drivers are increasingly looked upon to be 100% professional at all times!


Would be very interested to see scanned images of these cards!


Last year was an odd year for Hamilton, and it is interesting to realise that he started significantly better than Button Pirelli tyres or not, but I still think most of it was borne out of frustration with McLaren and their inability to design a car good enough to beat Red Bull. There really was no chance of catching Red Bull and Hamilton would have found that demoralising for yet another year so much so he was not in a position to take advantage when the McLaren was in a good enough position to win and mistakes by him and McLaren just piled on the misery. Given the tyres even more so the only way McLaren are going win a championship is to produce a front running car. I rather suspect we will see a resolute Hamilton this year, but all depends on the car regardless of the driver.


@Stallion GP ... "to always refer to the rookie season of Hamilton just goes to show how he has not developed as a driver since then ..."

No. It goes to show that we as fans have not developed since then.

That was when... 2007?

This is when... 2012? Yeah 5 years ago.

Its time to quit relating anything to his rookie year I think.


That's because the team that he had in 2007-2009 was dismantled on purpose by Whitmarsh when Jenson came to McLaren. He (Whitmarsh) said he did it to be fair to Jenson.


Yes. As others have already iterated, I think we need to read between the lines of what Hamilton is saying. I remember when Button arrived that Whitmarsh went to extreme lengths to unsettle Hamilton and took away the closes people in the garage he should be too, his #1 and #2 race engineer.

These structural changes can be viewed as extreme and unheard of in F1 when you already have a young prodigy WDC.

Therefore it is not a surprise for Hamilton to say this. Those who read any discussion threads on Hamilton having been saying for a while the same as you, that Hamilton's side of the garage was dismantled.

The key question is whether Sam Michael has the authority to correct this organisational structure change. I hope to read a press statement in the next weeks indicating that Phil Prew is being re-instated as Hamilton's primary race engineer.

Just like when they won the WDC together.


Whitmarsh would not stand for anyone getting changing his decisions about the support of the drivers. It won't happen.

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