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Hamilton and Button’s head-to-head record at McLaren
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Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Nov 2012   |  10:27 pm GMT  |  342 comments

Lewis Hamilton’s final race for McLaren in Brazil represented a clear closing of an era for the Woking squad both in terms of its long-standing relationship with its one-time protégé and, after three season and 58 races in tandem, the team’s high-profile all-British world champion driver line-up.

While Hamilton’s hopes of saying farewell with an Interlagos victory were scuppered when Nico Hulkenberg slid into him at turn one, Jenson Button was able to pick up the pieces and lay down a marker for 2013 when he will inevitably assume additional responsibility and expectation at the team given the relative inexperience of the incoming Sergio Perez.

The other significant thing about Button’s win, and Hamilton’s no-score, was that it ensured that it was the elder Briton who ended the pair’s three years as team-mates with the higher overall points tally – 672 for Button compared with Hamilton’s 657 points.

While points alone certainly can’t reflect the whole picture of their time together at McLaren or act as conclusive evidence of which of the pair ‘won’ their team-mate battle, as the wider statistics we have gathered below will demonstrate, outscoring Hamilton over a three-year period certainly still reflects better on Button than many would have expected when he joined the team, Sir Jackie Stewart at the time famously remarking that the then newly-crowned world champion was entering the “lion’s den” in going up against Hamilton in the same machinery.

In terms of a per-season head-to-head tally, Hamilton finished with more points in two of their three years together (2010 and 2012) but in the middle season, when he finished as runner-up to Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ standings, Button outscored his countryman by a significantly bigger margin, 43 points, which in the end told in his final overall advantage.

Button’s win on Sunday was his eighth for McLaren in those three seasons but it’s Hamilton, with 10, who shades that particular head-to-head there, although  Button claimed marginally more podium finishes, both in real terms and as a percentage of the races he finished (50% to Hamilton’s 48.9%), and top 10 results.

Interestingly however, in the races they both made the chequered flag (37) Hamilton finished in front 65% of the time with his advantage on Saturdays, unsurprisingly given the pair’s well-established relative strengths, even more pronounced.

Discounting grid penalties, Hamilton ended qualifying with the better lap time on 44 occasions compared with Button’s 14, giving the 2008 champion a 76% success rate. Indeed Button’s pole at Spa in the summer remains his only one for McLaren, while Hamilton has added nine more to his career tally since the start of 2010.

In terms of race retirements, Hamilton failed to finish more often (13 v 8 ) but the majority of that difference can be explained by accidents or incidents across the three years, rather than car-related or reliability issues, despite the fact the 27-year-old arguably lost three additional wins through failures this season alone.

The statistic that will of course most disappoint and frustrate McLaren is the lack of drivers’ or constructors’ world titles the partnership yielded despite the consistency which saw Hamilton and Button, between them, win nearly a third of their 58 races together and finish in the points at every grand prix – the latter being a new F1 record for a team.

Hamilton v Button stats compared (highest respective tally in bold)

Faster qualifying time: Hamilton 44 / Button 14
Poles: Hamilton 9 / Button 1
Front rows: Hamilton: 23 / Button 9

Wins: Hamilton 10 / Button 8
Podiums: Hamilton 22 / Button 25
Points finishes: Hamilton 45 / Button 47 
DNFs: Hamilton 13 / Button 8
Best race result (inc DNFs): Hamilton 32 / Button 26
Ahead in two-car finish: Hamilton 24 / Button 13

Overall points: Hamilton 657 / Button 672
Seasons finished higher in standings: Hamilton 2 / Button 1
Highest championship placing: Hamilton 4th (2010, 2012) / Button 2nd (2011)


You can read all about both McLaren drivers’ seasons in the JA on F1 2012 yearbook – The Year of Living Dangerously, which is published on December 7th priced at £10.99; it’s a 256 page large format paperback with stunning Darren Heath images and signed copies are available to order via our online shop now.

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I love looking at old postings to see who had it right and wrong.


What really annoys the Hamilton fans is that they expected Hamilton to make Button look like an also ran. He didn’t. He was faster but less consistent. It’s Alonso that has both qualities.


I think Button’s and Hamilton’s final race together reflected their different approaches. After the safety car, Hamilton chased down the Force India for the win. In doing so he tried for the win, but put himself at more risk in the battle. Button, either because of pace issues or choice, sat back and gained when Hulk hit Hamilton. You can argue in favour of either approach depending on your approach to racing. At the end of the day McLaren couldn’t offer either driver a real chance at the title after 2010.


what about the statistic that jenson drives a boring race (other than canada 2011), he only won a title as brawn devloped to double diffuser.

I am a believer that all drivers given the right machinery will drive a satisfactory race, but only a few have the ultimate single lap pace. On single lap pace Ham wipes the floor.


That’s why he always does better in qualifying for sure, but races are not one lap long, generally they are an endurance race of 2hours or 200 ish km.

This is how the tortoise Button manages to keep with the Hare Lewis.

I think Lewis is better than Jenson and certainly has time to grow even more, but I have watched the pair closely and followed the live timing at most races and often compared the two.

Button often races at a similar pace to Lewis during the race and there is a pattern to Buttons race craft which is part of his style and part of his nurturing of tyres (after all it is about endurance too)

Button often looses touch with Lewis at the beginning of a race. Why is that? Generally it’s because he’s nurturing his tyres and managing his speed, he then begins to reel Lewis in maintaining his consistent pace as Lewis’s tyres generally go off earlier than Buttons and Lewis’s laptimes fall comparitive to fuel loads and track conditions. This means that Lewis’s times might still be going up, but that his potential speed has fallen due to tyre wear or other issues.

To bluntly define how each goes racing you only have to watch a few races where Lewis goes off hounding every driver he can for position, which we all know can be hard on tyres, then his tyres lose grip and he loses speed. When that works it’s spectacular, when it doesn’t Lewis fails. Button’s approach is not so aggressive, he considers the race as a whole and not just each car to attack so he might consider what will happen after a round of pitstops or when such and such a driver might be more vulnerable to attack. Button’s method returns rewards similar to Lewis’s as the stats over 3 years have shown. After all that is what we are comparing. Their time together as competitive team mates.

However, Button’s method is equally fallable.


So, clearly some people think that these stats puts Jenson on a equal footing with Hamilton,

With Mercedes wanting Lewis, Horner saying Mclaren are weaker with out Lewis, and MW saying we are losing are major asset –

Who actually thinks Mclaren will win a championship in the next 2 yrs?.

You can’t win a championship without being a pole sitter


Hamilton suffers from the way he was moulded by the team. Ron distilled the ethos win at all costs. If your not first who cares! This was the biggest factor in 2011 in my opinion. The car was not good enough to win constantly that year and Hamilton drove in the manner of push the car so hard you win or crash. As the car was not fast enough to beat the Red Bull it meant a lot of crashing. The media, the public and the record/stat books don’t take this into account. For them consistency is king. By seeing the praise drivers like alonso got for his consistency Hamilton is starting to realise that it is important. JB drives for consistency, he knows that if he brings home the points every race he will be in the hunt. He is wise enough to know he does not need to beat Hamilton any race as if he is right behind him Hamilton likely will get a DNF and Button closes the gap. Button is always most upset not when beaten by Hamilton but when he gets a DNF as this damages the strategy much more. It’s not very romantic but Alonso and Button have proved settling for second in a race and not going for win gets you closer to a WDC than trying to be on the top step every race.

2011 Hamilton scored a lot less points but once out of the WDC and WCC quite early meant what was the point in securing a solid points score, none. May as well go for a remarkable drive to victory but unfortunately this just meant a lot of DNF’s and stats like those above which but a spotlight on a miserably 2011 season.


You seem to talk about Hamilton’s problems (‘win at all costs’ ethos) in the preseent tense and then refer exclusively to 2011 for your evidence.

2012 proved that Hamilton knows how to drive consistently. You’re living in the past.


Yes that is my point. This year he drove with consistency in mind and the media loved it. But the topic is looking at Hamilton and Button over the last 3 seasons (including 2011). It is this ethos in 2011 which does all the damage to stop the stats showing Hamilton as clearly dominant over JB. The stats don’t lie but in 2011 Hamilton was not driving for good stats. Only for wins.


I believe Hamilton is probably the fastest pure driver and the best qualifier in F1.

But on Sunday’s – taking everything into account; pure speed, patience, ability to adapt to changing conditions/circumstances, passing ability, etc. – I think Button is the overall superior driver.

If Button was not such an average qualifier, he clearly would have beaten Hamilton’s point total by far more.


On the topic of Lewis vs Button. We all know that Hamilton’s incredible speed and overtaking abilities makes him the more exciting and in theory the faster driver.

Commentators like to praise Button’s kindness to tires and ability to set up car among other BS praises about him. IMO, there is only one thing that button is great at, that is winning in chaotic rain conditions. I honestly don’t know how he does it, but Brazil 2012, Canada 2010 are amazing stuff from Button.

I think Mclaren only wish they can combine these two drivers to make DER UBER driver.


First of all, let’s start on the positiv note that both these guys are excellent drivers, but that can be said about just anybody on the grid.

A lot of people, not everybody, seem to consent on the fact that Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel are the elite on the grid. But why? What makes them so special? Alonso and Hamilton are great fighters,they have this style a lot of people love to see. And Vettel has been champion for the last 3 years.This however doesn’t mean other drivers aren’t just as good. But I feel that Lewis was the better driver. Jenson was good, but I feel like he’s missing that extra bit. He’s very talented as well, and he can win the WDC again,but he seems a little more restricted than Lewis/Alonso. But he’s good enough to win the WDC in a good car, and next year might be his shot (and he knows that, he will be very motivated). He will be no.1 at Mclaren, let’s see how he copes with the pressure. He’s been in Lewis’s shadow all year, kinda like a no. 2. Next year people will look at him for results.

The fact of the matter is that the answer to the question ‘who is the better driver’ is prone to a huge amount of subectivity. Statistics are objective, but they don’t tell the full story.

I am a fan of Lewis because I believe he is a thrilling driver with amazing talent (very subjective). Lewis Hamilton, just like all the other drivers on the grid, believes he is just as good as everyone. Al these guys, Button included, want to be in the best possible position to challenge for the WDC. They want to race for the best teams, have the best car and get the wins. Lewis is no exception.

But drivers are human beings (some of us tend to forget that) and each human being has it’s own character. Lewis is a fighter, he’s passionate (borderline hothead sometimes even). He realy dislikes losing. Jenson is not different, but he manages better when he’s losing. I guess he manages to see the bigger picture, he picks up good points and hopes for his fortunes to turn around. He’s better at ‘staying out of trouble’. That, in my opinion, was the great difference in 2011, no matter what statistics say. Everybody got their butts kicked by Sebastian in 2011, Lewis absolutely could’nt cope with the Rb dominance and lost his cool. Jenson remained calm and picked up the pieces, without ever standing a chance to win the WDC. Lewis hated the feeling that he could’nt be as competitive as the Rb in 2011. He learned from that experience and he has been so mature this year, driving better than ever in my honest opinion. Look at the drives he produced in Abu Dhabi and Texas, knowing he was out of competition for the WDC. He has become very patient and he knows what needs to be done in order to win. He won’t make the same mistakes as back in 2011. But he has just been so unfortunate this year, it’s almost beyond belief. this year will be remembered as the year where 2 champions fought for the title till the last corner, but Lewis won’t be remembered. He drove like a champ and deserved the crown just as much as anybody else. It’s nothing more than a year to forget. But he’s been patient, and he knows (just like patient drivers as Button), that his fortunes will turn. If he drives like this in the future (and I know he will), than he WILL win at least one more WDC. Let’s not forget he’s only 2 years older than Sebastian and quite younger than Alonso/Button.

As for 2013, I won’t be surprised to see Lewis coming out more competitive than expected. If this year has thaught us one thing, than it’s that qualifiying is very important. A car on the front row is in much better position to fight for good points. Mclaren will be good, that car is already very fast right now. But I have a funny feeling that Mercedes will be fast as well.

Anyway, let’s not lose ourselves in discussions over who might be the better driver. Have your preferences, but remember that every other driver on the grid is also talented (yes, even Narain). Lewis will be fine at Mercedes, Jenson will be fine at Mclaren. Let’s hope both cars will be competitive next year and that we are blessed with antoher marvellous year .


Very good comment. I fully agree.


I see Hamilton as a modern-day Nigel Mansell. A naturally fast, passionate racer. Button by comparison is more like Alain Prost: Maybe not as fast, but more level-headed, easier on the equipment and tactically strong.


Sounds like a pretty good analogy to me.


Hamilton is far superior, as demonstrated by the saturday stats, the stats when they both finished (thats a good one), and Button typically only being a contender when mclaren was car of the weekend or when it was a race in intermediate tyre conditions.


I’ve had to give up on reading all the comments – it seems they are only going around in circles anyway.

So – what is the conclusion? Well – the end seems to have many similarities to the beginning. 3 years on and the same debate is raging … and the disagreements are as loud as ever. So I guess we should all embrace them as great drivers who have individual strengths but very different weaknesses.

I would suggest James has left out a couple of useful stats:

The number of column inches generated and comparisons with other team mates.

Both have created fierce debate.

Before winning their titles they both made WDC team mates look ordinary – Button entered a team built around JV and made him look like a novice and Lewis arrived alongside Alonso and (like it or not) ended the season higher up the listings.

So even with that there really is very little to choose between them.


Oh – I forgot to add:

I would like to hear what Ross Brawn says about the 2 of them next summer – after Lewis has a few races under his belt in a new team.

That should answer the question – by then Ross should be best able to compare the 2.


There’s another really important statistic missing, cost, reputedly, over the three years Button cost McLaren Mercedes $30m while Hamilton cost $70m!

So Hamilton cost $40m more and scored 15pts less!

Anyone with even the minimum understanding of business can understand that that the numbers don’t add up!


It’s the team’s responsibility to use their drivers to their potential, if they scupper them with unreliable cars and team operational screwups then how can you blame the driver?

The fact is that they paid Hamilton to win them a championship which he would have done this year if it wasn’t for the team’s mistakes and car problems. Button wouldn’t have won it even if he had a 100% reliable car and perfect race strategies

Tornillo Amarillo

Money comes with a TV show, and some drivers are really boring!


If you remember when JB came to F1 with Williams, he was thought to be the next great thing, to the brits at least. Sure enough his first season was regarded as successful even though he lost his seat to Montoya for the following year. His career did not evolve as it might have been expected therefore and he soon became a second tier driver in the eyes of many, including mine. The way he or his manager ran his career did not help him much to be fair with the breaking of previous agreements and so forth. 107 GPs later he finally scored his first win, nothing all that impressive in my opinion. It might have remained his biggest achievement, but in 2009, he got for the first time a car that could take him to the championship and to be fair he grabbed that chance and made it so. He then got the opportunity he most likely had been looking for his all F1 career and finally got to a top team (Williams of course was one as well when he raced with them.) with McLaren. There, he did better than expected against his highly rated teammate, but in my view did not set F1 on fire either.

Just like JB, when LH came to the F1 scene, he was thought to be the next great thing in F1, and not just by the Brits this time, and for cause as his first season was truly exceptional in many ways. He stayed on in McLaren, became a WDC and proved that he is no ordinary F1 racer. Now he moves on and I think he is going to experience what JB did prior to 2009. I still can’t understand what motivated him to make such a move. I would gladly be proven wrong, but I think LH will soon regret his choice of career.

Numbers may say that during their three season together they were closely match, but anyone with even the minimal understanding of racing talent can see that in this case numbers don’t add up. Marc


None of the numbers add, none of the stats can take anything away from the real experiences and races. In truth Lewis should have had more points, he made fewer mistakes this year barely any compared to the previous year. However, Button’s dip in form during this year should not IMO be tied to his ability. There is no way he was THAT slow, there was more happening there than meets the eye. Button was also robbed by the team of points due to errors or unreasonable strategies that took him backwards rather than forwards. Lewis definitely had the upper hand this year, but I already stated why he didn’t finish any nearer the title or any further away from Button. It all adds.

While I hate to have to admit that Vettel is fully deserving of 3 world titles, you have to simply consider this. Can anyone be so lucky to accumulate 3 titles in 3 years. It doesn’t work like that. No one wins a lottery 3 times and this isn’t even a lottery.

Button is well liked by many a team boss from Williams to Brawn and has praise heaped on him by former racers including Michael Schumacher.

He’s there, not lucky, not by accident but through skill and determination driving for one of the top teams in motorsport and will next year effectively be leading the team. He’s won races, has ‘on occassion’ beaten Lewis for raw pace, has been beaten ‘often’ by Lewis on raw pace, but Button’s strategy calls have won him more, his race craft and his ability to overtake (including overtaking Hamilton) have provided many motorsport (not just hamilton) fans with a great deal of entertainment.

Button entered the Lion’s den. The lion is not there anymore, but Button is . . . and he got a pay rise for his contributions.


The Lion left, you talk as if Button has ‘ousted’ him? Button is happy to see out the rest of his years winning the odd couple of races every season, but he doesn’t have the hunger to win another championship. All the top brass at Macca have already said how much they are going to miss him, I highly doubt they would say this about Button. Perez will probably beat him


Well the fact is Mercedes are prepared to pay a lot of money for Hamilton, I suspect he must be the highest paid on the grid, and they certainly would not do that if they did not believe he is one of the very best drivers currently in F1. I also suspect that the Mercedes car will be virtually all new with very little carry over from 2012. They are a team with massive resources, and have put a very competent team structure in place. I also think that Lewis and Nico will make very good team mates. Rosberg is very underrated mainly because he has not had very good cars, but given one, as he demonstrated this year, he is more than capable of winning a GP. I suspect they will be the most dynamic driver line up on the grid.


I think all the drivers are in the best position to decide how they go about racing. Anyone who feels they are better qualified to decide how the drivers go racing needs some medication. It’s one thing to discuss te outcome of the races and quite another trying to tell others how to live their lives. Why not enjoy yours and allow others to do likewise. The drivers are being discussed here because of the way they do heir jobs if tey did their jobs like some have suggested, i think they might never have become F1 drivers simply because those posting here about “too aggressive when not necesary” will never be F1 drivers. i enjoy the outcome and look forward to the next events.


It will be interesting to see how many times they finished in front of the other and how many times they overtook each other over the 3 seasons James.

Button has a much stronger chance of becoming a multiple champion than Hamilton now.


He’s five years older though, don’t forget


Mclaren are very likely to have the fastest car and button with his experience could win the next 2 seasons after all he has shown that he knows how to win a championship at least, beating a very experienced teammate in Barrichello. I think Button may not have peaked yet.


And five years wiser.


In 2010 JB had to drive a car that wasn’t designed with his physique or driving style in mind, so there was a bit of a handicap there.

In 2011 he was second in the championship, which says it all.

This year they ended the season two points apart, JB with three wins and LH with four.

Why can’t people just accept that they are two drivers who are fairly closely matched overall, but with completely different strengths and styles?


Were it not for just pure rotten luck, Lewis would have at least 6, possibly 7 wins this year, and the point differential between Lewis and Jenson would be 100+, rather than 2. We can argue that 2010 went to Lewis, 2011 went to Jenson, but in 2012 there’s simply no question that Lewis soundly trounced Jenson.

To point to the points difference is completely disingenous.


Lewis should/could have won 1.Barcelona(put it on pole by 0.65sec but team misfuelled him so started last).

2.Singapore(stopped from lead because of a gearbox failure)

3.Abu Dhabi(stopped from lead because of a fuel pick up issue)

4.Brazil(Hulkenberg lost control of his car and crashed into Lewis while dicing for the lead)


Yup ! another 100% agree !


Agree 100%


I’m sorry people, but real F1 fans don’t need to resort to defending their teams and drivers constantly. It’s enough to enjoy the spectacle and enjoy the talents of these drivers, from the lowliest paid for drive to the record breaking pointy end.

On this pair it’s give and take. If lewis was the wonderboy you all say he is, he’d be a multi world champion too but he isn’t. Excuses are just that. They are excuses.

It’s Lewis job also to make sure the team don’t make mistakes. It’s his job to head development. MS did, Alonso does it, Vettel probably doesn’t need to.

The simple fact is that as someone said on here, Button fans and Button himself have never said he was faster than Lewis. Lewis is a very special talent. But it’s obvious he’s still lacking.

Why is it Lewis’s job to head all this, because if he wants something so badly, he has to make it happen. He has to inspire people to perfection he has to guide people to help them put him in the place he believes he belongs.

MS did it, Alonso is doing it, Vettel probably doesn’t need to.

As for Button, yes he’s fast enough. Let’s not forget who won the tortoise and the hare race. It’s not an metaphor for no reason.


Firstly it’s a team sport so no Lewis’ driving talent alone doesn’t guarantee multiple world championships.

Secondly McLaren is a very different team from the others in that they do not allow the drivers any of those you mentioned because they see the drivers as a bio-mechanical component.

This is I think the main reason behind Lewis’ move.



Hamilton IS faster, but more raw (still!). Button IS more wise and cerebral.

I thought Button was mad to goto McLaren up against Hamilton… but he proved everyone wrong and it’s Hamilton that’s departed the team first.

It will be very interesting in 2013 to see how Button performs when the car is solely developed around him! At the very least he won’t have his team-mate post telemetry on Twitter.

It will be very interesting to watch Hamilton at Mercedes. Rosberg is a lot stronger than people give him credit for.


Very interesting. When Button announced his move to McLaren I was one of the “oh no Jenson don’t go into the lions den” people. I fully expected Hamilton to destroy him. That just hasn’t been the case though. Yes I know Hamilton has pretty much always been the quicker but as others have said no one has denied that, even Jenson himself.

For the last 15 – 20 years with the refueling era F1 races were flat out sprints to the finish, drivers basically had to drive a whole grand prix of qualifying laps. That has totally changed (for the better IMO) with the refueling ban, it is no longer all about out and out speed it focuses more on racing ability and guile with the ability to push hard as and when required. That suits Jenson right down to a T.

Another poster commented saying that he basically hadn’t noticed Jenson this season, I kind of agree with that he has been anonymous, but despite that he has came only a few points behind Hamilton. Hamilton has tamed down a lot this last couple of years but he still makes too many mistakes by being overly aggressive when theres no need to. Being taken out by Maldonado in Valencia and by Hulkenberg in Brasil are prime examples. He was totally blameless in both of these incidents but they could have both been avoided by him being a little more streetwise.

What I am interested in is that the feeling seems to be that Perez will play 2nd fiddle to Button next year despite the fact Perez has two years experience and has proven to be fast. Compare that to 2007 when a total rookie came in to partner Alonso and got equal if not preferential treatment. It will be interesting to see how that pans out.


Nonsense, how could Lewis have avoided Hulkenberg in Sao Paulo?

How could he have avoided Maldonado who came back from outside the track?

It’s rubbish to say Lewis was not at fault at those incidents , but make him responsible for them nontheless.

Hamilton destroyed Button this season, despite the points don’t show it.


It’s very noticeable that Lewis’s tyres were smoking as Nico tried to overtake. It was an awkward situation. Often Button is criticised for not defending hard enough. Lewis could have just let Nico go without a fight, it was obvious the conditions didn’t suit Lewis that much. If he’d seen the bigger picture and not just raced in the moment he might have had an opportunity to attack him later when the proper wet conditions would have suited Lewis more than Hulk.

Sometimes you have to accept when you are beaten or lose out too. Lewis has lost a lot that way.


I do agree that Lewis would have had to be a genius to avoid that one, but it could have been avoided, braking late going into lapped cars was never a good idea.


“Sometimes you have to accept when you are beaten or lose out too. Lewis has lost a lot that way.”

I agree, but the Hulkenburg incident wasn’t like that at all. Hulk spun into Lewis, it wasn’t a question of wheel-to-wheel racing or “win it or bin it” like loads of people are saying. No driver on the grid would have avoided that incident; how many drivers do you see giving an overtaking car enough room to do a 180 degree spin without hitting them?



Lewis passed the Marussia on the inside coming down the front straight and then nico went to the inside of Lewis heading into turn 1. They were almost 3 wide.

Lewis left plenty of room and didn’t try to block or anything like that plus he had the Caterham in front of him.

Hulk was losing control under braking and ultimately the rear end came around and took out Lewis.

Bigger picture, smaller picture, racing in the moment, etc. it’s nonsense. Lewis knows what the heck he’s doing…give me a break already.


What most people here seem to be forgetting (or are too young to remember) is that you are comparing a driver who has been in F1 for 12 years and has become a mature, well rounded driver with one who has been in F1 5 years and has been doing much of his growing up in that time.


The sad truth is, had McLaren and in particular Whitmarsh got his act together Hamilton would not only have secured at one additional championship he would also likely be at McLaren in 2013 and beyond.

Of the 3 (Vettel & Alonso being the other two) top guys in todays F1, I suggest and believe it’s only Hamilton who would happily drive in the same team with the same machinery (we all know how Alonso through the toys from his pram and there’s been more that the odd moan from Vettel about Webber) – now what does that say!??!


Given a top 4 driver choice, I think most people are going to name Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen. So…if it was your money and you could choose two drivers in your team, you will probably go for one of these people, but who would be your second choice?

Only a fool would have two of these drivers in their team, so….step up Button. He can win a championship, win races, deliver consistent results, great team player, great ambassador, and thoroughly nice guy.

Therefore if you could only have two drivers in your team, you are most likley to have Button as one of them, than Hamilton. Unless you are of course a fool.


Spot on +1

If Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel are the best 4. (IMO in that order) Then it makes Button number 5.

If I had the choice Button would always be in my team with one of the top 4, he’s a team player without doubt.

Button said when joining mclaren he wanted a new challenge and has risen to that and performed extremely well IMO. He is now a no.1 driver in a top team, a position he has not held before. It will be interesting to see what he does with this opportunity, and a great way to finish the last few years in his career.


Hamilton has always been in good cars and yet he has been WDC only once. This is not a good record. Button had some limited success in what were truly poor cars by using his head rather than emotion.

Hamilton is without doubt fast over one lap, and is beginning to be more consistent over the race, let’s see what happens over the next four years.


Since Hamilton came into Formula 1 only Vettel has won multiple championships. Alonso hasn’t won a title either in that time, in spite of being in a “good car” four out of six years.


I believe the turning point for Lewis was the Canadian gp weekend in 2011 were he was seen meeting Christian Horner and then crashing with Button, this was the start of Lewis leaving Mclaren, this year’s operational problems only confirmed it

The thing about Mercedes is that they had the fastest car at one Grand Prix this year and got the job done. It was the same when the team was Brawn, a quick car for one year and they won the championship, so if Mercedes get that car sorted, then Lewis has every chance to be WDC


I wonder if the new formula of formula1 over recent years:

1) Tyres.

2) No refueling.

3) DRS can mitigate a poor qualifying.

has played to JB’s strengths rather than LH?

That said, JB has driven really well at McLaren and has widely exceeded peoples’ expectations. Can’t wait for 2013 – but wondering what to do with the sky subscription over winter…


Nothing gets this crowd going like a Hamilton article!


There’s no way Button really is in the same league as Hamilton. Yes the year before he outscored him on points in a season when he was on a high and Hamilton was having personal problems of one kind and another. This year however demonstrated that had McLaren not dropped the ball Hamilton would have most likely won the championship and the points total points tally would have been different, but it is a misleading statistic anyway. The other factor is the use of high degradation tyres which in normal circumstances just prevents a driver from behind making up significant ground on the leader. The leader in free air has a significant advantage in that his tyres are least affected.


Hamilton was taken out of races by other drivers through no fault of his own on several occasions.

If Button had been in the identical position would he have had the extra awareness to make sure he was not in the way when the other guy slid off/into him.

He would then of course be criticised for giving up the place and not being ‘a racer’, but to get any points you have to get to the finish.

More cautious and less exciting maybe but overall the significance is how well matched they have been over the three years.


So being slower and not being able to attack the race leader is a feat Jenson has to make sure he won’t get crashed into. I definitely is paying off when people fall out in front of him and he’s always the one there to mop up the points. It won’t win you a WDC if you just have a very good car but it will if you have a Red Bull like speed advantage. And if you don’t have a Red Bull you can still hopefully pick up just enough points to “beat” Hamilton by outscoring him in case he had a lot of problems during a year…

That’s the description of the best second tier driver right there. But by pampering Jenson McLaren scuppered their star driver’s chances all year every year they only care about the WCC.


Actually, I think you are probably right

Mike from Colombia

Yeah his lightening reactions would have made his car jump 3 metres across laterally in the middle of the corner and he would have avoided Hulkenberg’s rear end swinging into him. I also forgot that he can catch a speeding bullet in his hand.


Didn’t claim he had lightning reactions, quite the opposite, after all he was ‘Vetteled’ at Spa 2010.

In fact pointed out he might well already have lost the place, but might still have been in the race.

Just a thought-


Interesting comment about signing Perez being a mistake, I guess time will tell, but what I found surprising was Mclaren’s haste to sign someone. Perez was announced the same day as Hamilton moving…where else was Perez going? Why didn’t Mclaren see how the season panned out, after all they held the key to all of the next tier of drivers and let’s face it, all of them would break any existing contract to sign for Mclaren. My view is that Hulk is the most obvious next candidate to the top tier as proven by his multiple championship wins and form, but at that time of the season it could have been Perez or DiResta or Maldonado or Kobe or even Grosjean (if he’d improved post race ban).


I cannot believe any F1 fan seriously thinks JB is a better racing driver than LH?? You can throw all the stats you want at the last three seasons but everyone can see who is the quickest. Mcl bang on about how they always want to win, but with JB they simply won,t do it unless they have a secret weapon knows about. He is not quick enough in quallly and therefore picks up the pieces when the racers fall down. Even Brazil,s win was inherited!



amazing point very well put. Button has never won a race on his own merit. the amount of cars that have fallen of the track to make sure this mediocre driver wins 15 races is quite amazing. I have never seen him overtake on track. Its either sheer luck or the other drivers feeling sorry for him and letting him pass…I think Macca should sack him and employ a brick and a dead dog. Surely, they will be the most inspired and consistant driver pairing in the history of the sport…


good grief…i was being sarcastic…i get very tired of reading spiteful comments from people who just dislke a driver or feel that they threaten their favourite driver in someway. I agree that Lewis is faster and has the ability to drive around problems, but the basic fact is, button out scored him in the last 3 seasons. That does not make Lewis Hamilton any less of a driver, but no matter how much shouting about if this had happened, or that had’nt happened will change that fact. Good luck to them both in the forth coming seasons. i hope they both provide us with some great racing..


@ Marc Barker

Could not agree more. If Ham hadn’t had a Monaco rear wing at Spa Button wouldn’t have won that race either before people start mentioning that


Button has won plenty of races on his own merit. He was comfortably outperforming Hamilton in Brazil as well until the safety car.


Australia 2012

Spa 2012


It depends on your definition of “better” doesn’t it. If you choose “quicker over a lap” then Hamilton is better; if you choose “scoring more championship points” then it seems Button is better!

My view would be that the real goals in F1 are tasting the champagne, winning races and scoring championship points (with the ultimate aim of becoming champion). Lap times and pole positions are just a means to an end, and signify nothing on their own. On that basis it appears Button and Hamilton have performed almost precisely equally over the last 3 years.


Sorry iceman but on this occasion you are miles of the mark. Do you honestly see Ross Brawn paying JB £15million a season????? Or maybe you should get in touch with the Mercedes/Daimler board as you know more than they do about running a F1 TEAM!!!!


I think the main conclusion that should be taken from this is that JB is a better driver than many people gave him credit for. Is he better than LH? Perhaps not (and I say that as a massive JB fan), but he certainly has silenced his critics (or should have). On his day, he’s as fast as anyone, but perhaps less consistent when the car’s not to his liking. I think as someone has mentioned, if Mclaren focus building a car around him (rather than compromising for both LH and JB), 2013 could be his year.

I think another important point is how much Mclaren seem to have embraced JB – could almost be seen as ‘his’ team at the beginning of this year. Will be interesting to see if LH can command that kind of loyalty at Mercedes. I suspect not.


Think this really confirms what I am sure a lot of us thought about these two. Both super-talented drivers, but Hamilton is probably the faster in terms of outright speed and Button more savvy and race wise. Im not comparing them to Senna and Prost – especially given they have 2 titles versus the 8 between Ayrton and Alain, but it is kind of like that. Hamilton like Senna an all out gutsy fiery racer, able to get around a card deficits and Button smoother and maybe not as quick, but almost unstoppable when the car is exactly to his liking!


Sorry 7 titles not 8. Fat fingers on iPhone!


No doubt Hamilton is blindingly quick when he’s on it – and probably faster than anyone – probably final qualifying of the year summed it up – he pipped Button bu 0.05 sec for pole! But sometimes you “make your own luck” and the fact that Jenson gained more points in the end cannot be dismissed – some accidents Lewis could have avoided had he been just a fraction more prudent – and some drivers are harder on their equipment than others, and he could be one of them. Perhaps the pressure to beat Jenson caused him to overdrive on occasion? To be honest I’m not a huge Lewis fan – he needs to grow up and be less self-centred and less ‘fragile’. Jenson did however have a completely anonymous mid-2012 – let’s hope next year’s car is set up to his strengths – and that he wins the title. Jenson is a thorough gentleman at all times, and while lacking the “killer instinct” he can prove that “nice guys don’t always come 2nd”! Go Jenson – get your 2nd championship in 2013!


That’s an interesting one.

I can’t really find any explicit assertion, just the implicit assertion of the content that it is worthwhile breaking down the comparative statistics over their three year teammateship, to figure out who the better driver is.

This assertion, that there is a possibility that Jenson Button was the better driver of the two of them, is for me, just barely before the boundary into ridiculous.

I am a big fan of Jenson Button, he is a world champion, and I am one that believes the machinery is always part of it, but ultimately, the world champion has what it takes to win the world championship; that’s partly why there are so few world champions. Jenson Button is one of those few.

I’m measuring on a different level; yes, it may be more difficult to quantify, but there is no doubt, Lewis was second to none on the grid during those years, BUT, it just so happened that during those years, Sebastian Vettel won ALL of the championships. In terms of comparative performance, that is the only quantitative statistic with any real validity, everything else is trivia.

The relevant means of judging these two can be easily assessed:

-> If you were watching the races, on the balance, what effect did each of these drivers, respectively, have on you?

After the winner of the championship, is not this the best determinant factor for measuring the rest of the drivers?

It is purely subjective.

So it only really matters what you think yourself, and everybody else’s opinion is irrelevant.



Very well said!



I appreciate the positive.


Three years ago when Button joined McLaren I doubt many would have believed the outcomes of the races, championships and stats to be as close as they played out between the two.

Button earned a lot of respect, first for his bold move and then for his subsequent performance against his teammate.

Which brings up a couple of interesting questions: had Hamilton clearly wiped the floor with Button as was widely predicted, would he have left McLaren for Mercedes? Is Hamilton’s move a quest for the same kind of respect that Button got?


” finish in the points at every grand prix – the latter being a new F1 record for a team.”

[Murry Walker]

” a unique achievement in 2012, except for Ferrari and Lotus who did exactly the same.”

[/Murry Walker]


The record is to have finished in the points at every one of 58 Grands Prix. I believe Ferrari only managed 55 consecutive races in the points. That did include 3 full years, 2000-2002, but of course the were fewer races in the season then.

I don’t think Lotus ever came anywhere close to that.


The difference between the two definitely comes down to that “win-or-bust” attitude of Hamilton’s.

I wonder where it will get him in the Mercedes next year? And where Button can take a McLaren that’s been designed more towards his needs than Hammy’s?

Another stat I’d have liked to see – the number of overtakes (or at least meaningful, competitive overtakes). Hamilton might have a win-or-bust attitude to racing, but Button still seems to manage to fit quite a few overtakes in.


Thanks James that pretty much confirms my gut feel on the two. I think the dominance of Red Bull Racing has had a lot to do with how hard Lewis in particular has driven the car. Some people forget Mclarens expectation is always to win and the margins have been very small over the 3 years. You can’t drive your car at 99% when your opposition are constantly beating you. Has to be 100% every time.

Tornillo Amarillo

Great article, statistics are really good to have an objective base of discussion.

IMO Hamilton is a great number 1 driver and Button a great 2nd driver (slower than Hamilton), like Vettel and Webber are for Red Bull.

Obviously, if you are behind and the two leaders collides, you inherits positions, like Button in Brazil 2012, but statistics will only tell you that Button just won and Hamilton had a DNF. Wich driver you prefer as a fan?

So you need both of them! But whay McLaren did not get the WCC? Maybe some managers failed?

Nobody cannot blame any of both drivers, really. Unfortunately, Hamilton was under attack by Massa in 2010, but maybe the reason also was he hasn’t got good qualifies and just to get in the front more.

Hopefully Perez will become a number 1 driver for McLaren… after some time, maybe for 2014. So this’s an opportunity for Lotus and Mercedes to go further up in 2013.

And hopefully Lewis will learn from evitable clashes like the one with Maldonado this year or with Hulkenberg this last race in Brazil, why don’t wait a couple of turns or laps before using DRS, etc., as Kimi does getting 3rd in the WDC without renouncing to fight wheel to wheel?

FINISHING Lewis, is mandatory in 2013! Wherever you finish!

Finally, if you love McLaren and Lewis, where will you be in 2013 as a fan? Will you support Lewis and forget McLaren?


“Finally, if you love McLaren and Lewis, where will you be in 2013 as a fan? Will you support Lewis and forget McLaren?”

I’ll continue to support both, it is possible to like both Button and Hamilton, in spite of what certain posters believe 🙂


I think saying that Jenson inheritted the win in Brazil is unfair. Okay the Hulkenburg/Hamilton incident allowed Jenson into the lea, but he had been 40 seconds in front of Lewis before the safety car. Lewis was unable to run at the front on slicks so had to pit whereas jenson and Nico were able to lap quickly on old slicks.

Without the safety car the best Hamilton would have achieved would have been 3rd…

As others have said, I don’t think even Jenson would claim to be as quick as Lewis over a single lap, but in managing a full F1 season he is just as likely to score the points, ie he wouldn’t have had accidents with Maldonado in Valencia or the Hulk in Brazil so would have brought home more points ofr McLaren on those occasions.

2013 will certainly be an interesting season, not least in seeing how Rosberg and Hamilton will compare, I don’t think it will be as one sided as some assume.

Interesting comment about Kimi getting 3rd in the WDC by quick pace and great track management as Grosjean was arguably quicker over single laps, but was much nearer his limit.


I don’t think it was Hamilton’s fault in any of his incidents this year.

Besides, while Hamilton has had 3 incidents this year (namely Valencia, Spa and Brazil), so has Button (Malaysia crashing into Kartikeyan, Monaco crashing into Perez, and Korea being slammed by Kobayashi). And blame can even be apportioned to Button in Malaysia and Monaco. How can you say that Button has brought home the car more often than Hamilton?

Additionally, Hamilton has beaten Button 9-4 in all races they finished this year, and Hamilton lost wins in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Brazil none of which were his fault.

Let’s face it, Hamilton is quicker than Button in both qualifying and race pace, and undoubtedly has more “race craft and strategy” which OS says is what F1 rewards.


Exactly. Good, objective post.

Of all the multiple grand prix winners, I would wager that all of them have won at least 1 grand prix through inheriting the lead following an accident/car failure.

What a lot of people seemingly fail to grasp is that points are not awarded for pole position or fastest lap, and that in itself is revealing..

F1 does not reward pure ‘speed’ (however that is defined) it rewards race craft and strategy…

Qualifying is but one part of F1 racing, yet many fans seem to place qualifying performance as the most important attribute in any driver.


I believe that signing Perez was a mistake. He’s not scored a point since the announcement that he’s driving for McLaren next year.

Whether it was just bad luck or him buckling under pressure of a big drive next year, that’s a six-race drought. And in that time, his ‘underperforming’ team mate managed a podium and two points finishes.


It’s simple, if you were in the school yard to pick between Lewis or Jenson, who would you pick.

Lewis everyday



All day!


and so would do the team principals.

McLaren would have paid him more than any other f1 driver on the grid, Mateschitz would go for Hamilton or Alonso if Vettel leaves, & Mercedes let a 7x WDC go for him

Would anyone have done it for Button?


Good analysis. I have to give a lot of credit to Jenson because I too (like JYS) thought he would struggle against Lewis. Hamilton is so fast that it can be easy for the other guy to get down on himself. Button’s big strength is that he never got too down about this; indeed, though he would almost certainly deny it, he probably accepted it over one lap. Furthermore, he focused on exploiting his comparative advantages – consistency, strategy and temperament – to ensure he could still beat Lewis, even if he couldn’t outpace him over one lap (to be clear, this is not to say Lewis isn’t good in any of these areas, nor am I saying that Jenson is slow; the key word is ‘comparative’). This meant when he did beat Hamilton it seemed to put Lewis on the back foot somewhat, with Spa this year perhaps the strongest manifestation of his subsequent discontent.

Although an implicit number 1 and number 2 structure should aid McLaren next year, I also feel Hamilton’s departure will weaken them because overall I do think this season Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton have opened up a gap (however small that may be) over the rest of the drivers. In the Mercedes garage meanwhile, I think that Nico Rosberg’s best chance of matching Hamilton is to adopt Button’s approach.


Both very good drivers. If I were a team principal I will want Hamilton over Button for my team. Vettel alonso and Hamilton are clearly and evidently in a class of their own. I don’t think Button can be put in that class.

Mike from Colombia

Button performed better than expected, but in equal cars Hamilton has always outshone his team-mate – with the exception of his off period on 2011.

Why else would McLaren openly state that they were willing to pay Hamilton more money than Button and anyone else?

Hamilton was McLaren’s star and Button is their steady and safe option. McLaren have made this evident by throwing a contact at Perez at the last minute in the hope that some of his nursey-nursey drives will turn into flashes of brilliance next year. It smacks a little of desperation on their part. The likelihood is that Perez is not as good as they think he is or rather hope he is, and they will end up with two B group drivers as opposed to an A and a B

A = Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and maybe Kimi

B = Button, Webber, Rosberg and maybe Hulkenberg and Di Resta

B/C = Massa, Perez, Maldonado

C = Kobayashi, Grosjean, anonymous STR drivers and the rest

D = Karthikeyan

The stats say it all. Hamilton the faster driver in qualifying. Hamilton outraces Button when both cars finish in the points. Hamilton more DNFs. Hamilton more mechanical failures. Button with more points finishes.

The conclusion of all these stats…for whatever reasons McLaren did not get the best from their quicker star driver.


Or their quicker star driver did not make the most of his talents.


The stats show that Button is not as consistent as we are lead to believe. In fact Button is inconsistent! It is fair to say though that Button is more cautious! (he is also a very good overtaker mind you).


I remember Button’ s early playboy years on F1 when everybody was telling that he was on Irvine’s shoes, thus unfocused on a title bid. Nevertheless at that time ha was driving not that great cars and definitely during a period of Ferrari’s dominance. I also remeber one of his first interviews on british Telly on Chris Evans TFI friday just before seasons opener in 2000 saying that he is trainning alot and that his hero/best driver or something was Shumi. 4 years after Shumi found very upset by Button’s warmup lead at Imola 2004 where he took his maiden pole because he made some strange stop and go moves. I also remeber him been criticized for not having many wins on his tally and foremost I remember him driving the most complecated f1 car to set up having a Renault 110/111 degree V10 engine and later a Honda car with a globe livery.

In addition that dude has taken all the british press load for being the next Brit champion up until Hamilton Was shown up. All these Of course until he got the title after Lewis’s one, and his signing to Macca.

All I’m trying to say is that Button has done college, BA hons, and finally got a Phd, whereas others have taken Phd on the first corner. Yes Lewis is faster on a single lap but couldn’t handle pressure, media etc like last year which affected his driving, and that because he is too young and a champion at the same time. Whereas this year, just a year after, Lewis was another person another driver. Certainly next year and the year after been on a new team he would become a much better package and proven driver. The same symptoms have been seen in Vetel’s behavior and driving given the circumstances.

As such maturity and experience doesn’t come easy while row speed comes by birth, and that difference is reflected on those numbers. By the way I believe next year Button would be very fast.


6. Premature gearbox change penalty (Suzuka 2012)

Not sure off the top of my head what others have potentially been missed for either driver but if it’s 8 vs 6 it’s not a huge difference in reliability.


Great analysis James. Thanks.

I would liked to have compared the two under the former sprint-race format when refuelling was a part of F1. I suspect Hamilton would have had the decisive advantage predicted when the two came together.


I’ve often thought that Hamilton would now be a multiple champion if refuelling hadn’t been banned. Or if Pirelli hadn’t come in. The timing of those changes were very unfortunate for him.


McLaren was a very good car over the course of the year. Some, such as Gary Anderson, even reckoned it was the best. So it is entirely plausible that the could have the best car in 2013.

If that is the case, and if it allows Jenson to win the Drivers’ Championship, can you imagine how it will mess with poor Lewis’ head.

Just a thought.


Actually you’re right – I’d been thinking that another year of Vettel winning would push Lewis into a depression but actually if Jenson won it that’d be more devastating.


How many 1-2s in quali did McLaren have? How many 1-2s on Sunday? With Lewis out of the way, those will all be poles amd wins for Button from now on.


1-2 in qualifying:

Australia 2012

Malaysia 2012

Italy 2012

Brazil 2012

1-2 in the race:

Turkey 2010

Canada 2010

(I’ve only included ones where Hamilton finished ahead of Button, so excluded China 2010 for example)


An interesting comparison which i’m suprised hasn’t been done before. I think we all knew that Lewis was the quicker driver even before Button went to Mclaren and this hasn’t changed… However there’s a lot more to F1 than raw speed.. Button seems to have a cooler head when it comes to his racing and now Lewis has left I expect the Mclaren car to be taylored to his smooth racing style which will make a big difference…

I also no for a fact that Lewis had lost the support of the team.. Since Jensen arrived and Lewis started acting like a spolt bratt the garage has very defintly been on Jensens side… This may not seem to count for much on the outside but history in this sport shows us that this isn’t the case (particularly in this team) I give you Prost Senna as the most obvious example.

Mclaren will miss Lewis’s speed any team would what they won’t miss is sulking is recklessness and his arrogance! Jensen has been handed an unbelievable chance to show what he’s made of, I hope as a Mclaren fan that he steps up but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous..


You are a Mclaren employee to know that?


Interesting comparison. Button has done a lot better than I expected, and in retrospect made the best decision of his career in joining McLaren – how would he be viewed now had he stayed at Mercedes?

What I feel I’ve learned/confirmed about each driver during their time together:

Hamilton is as quick as we thought. Maybe the quickest in F1, certainly up there with Alonso and Vettel. Hamilton is also excellent at extracting speed from a car that isn’t optimally balanced. He struggled initially with preserving the Pirelli tyres, and still occasionally isn’t able to get the car set up to be both fast and keep the tyres in the window. It will be interesting to see how he goes with that at Mercedes, who have struggled somewhat with the Pirellis themselves. Hamilton has got a lot better at managing himself both within a race and across a race weekend.

Button is quick when everything is right, but not as quick as Hamilton. He’s very sensitive to car balance, and seems unable to extract competitive speed when the balance isn’t there. He’s very good at managing the car in a race and driving to a strategy, but again needs the car to be right for this to deliver top results.

It will be interesting to see how Perez performs at McLaren. If the car is developed for Button it may not suit Perez, but he will need to show something over the next two years. Button is a good yardstick – beat him and you’re potentially very close to the top bracket of drivers.


Both great drivers who have given us some great races but for me it’s button win

His calm race craft does it for me, maybe not the most exciting to watch but the points tally says it all

It’s not just about the individual race drivers but the team behind them yes Hamilton has provided some of the thrills and spills but button is the some may say boring plodder

And that’s what I admire in him he is the ordinary man that us plodders can relate to rather than the brash young Hamiltons and vettels of this world

But in saying that we need them all it’s been an exciting past few seasons

I used to be a shoe maker fan pre first retirement but after that never really followed any particular team but rather followed the whole spectacle instead

But wished alonso had done it this year he didn’t have the car but his pure skill made him a contender

Can’t wait till next season


I find it interesting that the press are suggesting that Button will be the ‘undisputed numerber one’ at Mclaren next year which will give him a great chance.

I suggest that if Hamilton had of had this ‘number one’ status as Alonso has at Ferrari and Vettel has at Red Bull then things would have turned out very differently. The car has been designed around two drivers with distinctly different driving styles and optimum strategy has been shared between weekends regardless of race/championship position. The latter has effected Hamilton more than Button due to him out qualifying Button and therefore being ahead in the race more often than not.

Mclaren would be well advised to change their strategy and give Button ‘number one’ status. Hamilton knew he would never have this benefit and I think that played a prominant role in his decision to leave the team.


Most technical articles have pointed out that despite the drivers ‘parity’ by mclaren the car has focused on hamiltons style – especially this year. In the one race where Lewis chose a radically different set up to jenson, jenson put it on pole.

I’d suspect that as they know so little about Perez from a technical standpoint the 2013 will inherently get built more to buttons liking (simply as engineers are data driven). If Perez adapts well to that particular style then he may succeed – but it will be 2014 before they adapt anything to his ‘style’ should he fall down in 2013.


“Most technical articles have pointed out that despite the drivers ‘parity’ by mclaren the car has focused on hamiltons style “

I’d like to read those, do you have some sources?

“In the one race where Lewis chose a radically different set up to jenson, jenson put it on pole”

That was the one race where there was very little dry running time (only FP3 I believe) and Hamilton and his crew made the mistake of not setting up the car with the new rear wing but choosing the old one, Button’s crew went the other way. The new, faster rear wing was selected after this race and Hamilton then dominated Button (in terms of qualifying) for the rest of the season. I’m not sure what this shows other than dry running time is important in setting up the car. Quite frankly I think that Button got lucky that Hamilton got his setup wrong otherwise he would of actually had some competition in that race.

Button tried a radically different setup near the start of the season and he ended up being lapped by Hamilton in Montreal. His team then had to scour through Hamiltons data and setup in order to make the car work for Button. He also went a different way in Brazil (low downforce) and had to turn to Hamilton’s setup (high downforce) because he was so far off the pace, so he has actually had radically different setups for several races and failed to achieve anything at all.



Andrew great overview, finally someone who actually watched and understood the races as opposed to just looking at the stats an final standings…


The tortoise and the hare. Button acquitted himself well during the 3 years they were team-mates. Indeed, he exceeded expectations. Hamilton had his best season this year. Has much more up-side potential than Button. Will be interesting to see how both careers pan out.

Thanks for the very balanced analysis.



As Andy in post #12 hinted at, Hamilton is as overrated as Button is underrated. Together, however, they mop up a decent amount of points, and their combined experience as aggressor (HAM) and thinker (BUT) was potent.

As a McLaren fan, I think another year of them together would have been brilliant – with Webber going off the boil and Massa’s inconsistency, McLaren would have had the best partnership on the grid – and with the minimal changes for next year, they could have capitalised. As it stands, it seems McLaren operate on a slightly different schedule to everyone else and need seasons to be about 30 races long to finally get on top of them.


McLaren have a good operation. They made mistakes, and had reliability issues, but on balance, a good argument could be made that they had the best car, over the course of the entire season.

But something, obviously did not work as well as it had to, for them to have won the championship.

What else matters?

What more can you meaningfully say about it?

The season was the same length for McLaren as it was for everybody else, including Red Bull.

Didn’t McLaren start the season with the fastest car?

So the operations was there, the machinery was there, and with two world champions, the proven capability to win world championships was there, too.

Some people may have some compulsion to call it Adrian Newey, but maybe you recognize that what it is, is magic.

It’s just something that can’t be meaningfully quantified for ‘objective’ analysis.

In these situations, that is what McLaren were lacking, and that is, more than anything else, what they lacked.

Certainly they are going down on paper: trading a proven world champion, for… what, the best pay driver of all time? Not a world champion.

That may seem harsh, the stuff about Perez, but is it factually wrong?

I am a big Perez fan; you could read it on my web site, documented. I think he ‘could’ be world champion. But as you may have noticed, that is such a long way from a proven world champion (who is in their prime). Regardless of how he is in Formula One, he is definitely worthy of being in Formula One; I hope there is no one who disputes that.

What Perez can bring to the team, are his different ingredients on offer, in the magic department.

And who knows, I’m a big believer; if McLaren comes out of the box with a similar comparative performance to the competition, and just cut down on their errors by, say 20%??? and improve reliability, by say… 25%, I think Perez could be world champion.

I think Perez will beat Jenson Button.


Perez to beat Button, that’s a bold prediction! Mind you if someone had predicted Button would beat Hamilton on points at McLaren and ultimately push him out of the team, that would have been pretty bold too.

Interestingly some of the bookies agree with you about Perez’s chances to some extent. William Hill has Button at 10-1 and Perez at 12-1 for the 2013 championship. Most of the others have a larger gap between them, but not by orders of magnitude.


Oh come on! Overrated! Even Alonso who has no reason to hand out platitudes rates Ham as his strongest competitor. I rate Button but anyone who saw Ham hunt down Vettel in a straight fight and take victory knows how good he is. THis year he has grown up and really delivered and would probably have been WDC if McClaren had not messed up so much.


Did you see Button hunt anyone down, at any point? In fact, Button is so poor he doesn’t in fact overtake anyone, does he? More inane blinkered rubbish.


please note, that unless you’re P.G.Wodehouse,

sarcasm on the internet never comes off.


My point was not to rubbish Button to point out that to make a sweeping statement that Ham is overated is nonsensical when you see him in full flow hunting down vettel such as Austin recently.


Just so you know, I had my sarcastic hat on. JB has had some awesome overtakes, but seldom gets credit for it.


Yes, Button hunted Vettel down in Canada last year. As for overtaking, I don’t understand where this “Button doesn’t overtake anyone”

Austin GP 2012 – Plenty of overtakes to come from practically last to 5th.

Did you see his drive in Brazil 2009. Coming from 17th to finish 5th again.

And that is just to name a few

Buttons overtakes aren’t seat of your pants Hamilton overtakes. Subtle and precise springs to mind. I think a lot of people have short memories and consider Jenson to be a bit of a journeyman. He’s spent many a year driving a dud car. With the exceptions of 04, 06 and the last 3 years, unlike Hamilton who hasn’t had to endure such a poor car. 2013 will be an interesting year for Lewis, If Mercedes don’t produce the car, how will Hamilton go.


Not to suggest it was a tactic or anything but Alonso does have a habit of playing mind games – and his praise of Hamilton has often seemed to be an attempt to unsettle Vettel – who you’d understandably see is Alonsos primary rival for the forseeable future.


On the subject of mind games, Christian Horner is a bit of a player too. He often says things that seem aimed at unsettling Hamilton – often by praising Button’s achievements while ignoring Hamilton’s. I don’t know whether that’s because he considers Hamilton a greater threat, or more susceptible.


Alonso’s statement was meant to destabilize Vettel.

Hamilton is not consistent enough to win a WDC with the likes of Vettel in a good car.

Everyonee saying he has matured this season but thats due to comparing him to last season and also a faster Mclaren wait till the Mercrdes season next year and see what happens


I agree what Alonso says about Hamilton must be taken with a pinch of salt, but to suggest Hamilton can’t win world titles due to consistency against Vettel is quite a stretch; you could level that charge against every driver on the grid, because no-one’s beaten Vettel when he’s had a championship winning car.


Hamilton has driven as consistently well as anyone (with the exception of Alonso and Vettel) this season. The reasons he was not in the title hunt have nothing to do with his driving but more to do with mechanical failures etc.


There has been no ‘Hamilton’ inconsistency this season to speak of.

Alonso hasn’t forgotten that in 2007 Lewis as a rookie equalled his 109pts in the same machinery.

How convenient to ignore this.

Any F1 authority has pointed out that McLaren lost the driver championship for Lewis in 2012.



Ha this is brave James!!

These statistics show a good trend but are effected in my view by 2011 where when Vettel was out of reach and the championship being over button cashed in.

The key trend for me is in the 2010 and 2012 seasons when mclaren could have won a title.

All being said Button is a great driver. He just isn’t as good as Hamilton (or alonso/vettel) in my opinion!


‘He just isn’t as good as Hamilton (or alonso/vettel) in my opinion!’

Nor is he as good as Kimi, as this years driver standing prove.

In truth, he’s middle order, but a very consistent and good middle order driver, just as he has been every year since he luckily won the WDC.


He was best of the rest behind Vettel last year, and performed very well in 2004 and 2006 when not in the fastest car on the grid. He’s among the best drivers on the grid, but just isn’t as good as Hamilton and (presumably) Vettel and Alonso too.


“The key trend for me is in the 2010 and 2012 seasons when mclaren could have won a title”

I agree with this. A large part of Hamilton’s desperation on the track in 2011 was the domination of Red Bull. I would add that he was also frustrated by the continuation of the equal status of the drivers at Mclaren when his main rivals (Alonso and Vettel) were both getting preferential treatment within their teams.


“I would add that he was also frustrated by the continuation of the equal status of the drivers at Mclaren when his main rivals (Alonso and Vettel) were both getting preferential treatment within their teams.”

I can only remember interviews with Lewis on this subject, where he has said he likes having a driver alongside him who he can race with and will push him all the way. Like he had with Alonso in ’07, and with Rosberg next year.

(Admittedly, I’m not sure how Heikki fits into that)

I must ask, how have you come to this conclusion?


“I can only remember interviews with Lewis on this subject, where he has said he likes having a driver alongside him who he can race with and will push him all the way”

Standard driver PR. There is no way that any driver would stand up in front of the press and declare that they do not want to be challenged and would prefer a subservient team mate that lets them win (such as Massa). You wouldn’t even get Alonso to confess to this on camera.

As for evidence to back up my conclusion, look at Hamilton’s reaction after winning the Turkish GP. Rather than Button sitting behind Hamilton, when it was clear they had a one-two finish in the bag, he took him by surprise and overtook him, Hamilton managed to immediately get the position back but his facial expression after the race and on the podium said it all. He was furious that Mclaren allowed this to happen.

Button is as much a politician as a driver, he takes the mechanics out for dinner and even holds dinners for the press (Martin Brundle tweeted about attending his ‘traditional Brit media dinner’). Hamilton prefers to perform on the track and seems not to partake in off track politics to a large degree. I know if I was Hamilton I wouldn’t be very impressed with Button’s approach. I would be even less impressed with the way Mclaren seem to have almost ignored Hamilton’s advantage over Button on the track that have the vast majority of experts claiming Hamilton to be in the top tier with Alonso and Vettel.


I think we’ll see McLaren leading the constructors next year. Two good drivers, not great, but good and a great car!

Mercedes also has two good drivers, neither great, but a poor car! And neither driver willing or capable of taking ownership of ‘in-season’ development.


What nonsense.

You have no idea what the Mercedes will be like next year. I do not think they will turn it into a championship winning car but I think it will be greatly improved. Hamilton has already stood up and declared he will be helping to develop the car. Time will tell if he has the capability.


+1 But I think time has already told that he does have that ability. Are we to assume that Hamilton has been just a bystander as all of the testing input has been taken from Button for the last 3 years, Kovalainen prior to that and Alonso before that? The more experienced driver is definitely able to give greater feedback, but to say that Rosberg or Hamilton are neither willing nor capable is ridiculous.


“And neither driver willing or capable of taking ownership of ‘in-season’ development.”

Based on what?


These stats demonstrate how they are different drivers; Lewis ultimately the faster, especially over one lap, Jenson perhaps more cautious hence consistent. One can argue that Lewis’ crazy 2011 where he spent a lot of the year crashing into other drivers handed the points win to Jenson. This year he seems to have taken stock and become much more consistent. He said multiple times early on this season that consistency would be key but unfortunately reliability let him down and cost him his chances of a second WDC.

If Jenson can push himself further next year to take the car to the next level and Lewis can continue with his recent excellent driving and car does not totally fail him (who knows what Mercedes can offer him) then we are in for a British treat in 2013.


Excellent article and great perspective to have taken. Personally I was very surprised at how close it was and completely agree with other commenters – Hamilton just seems that margin bit better!


Those stats show that Hamilton was clearly the fastest driver of the two but his win or bust attitude on race day also leaves a lot to be desired.

On a separate point, no constructors championship for McLaren since 1998 is definitely not good enough for the amount of funds and resources they have. Surely McLaren must be under more pressure than Ferrari to deliver some titles, they talk about Stefano Domenicali’s job being on the line but what about Martin Whitamrsh’s?


I see little evidence to support your suggestion that Hamilton has a ‘win or bust’ attitude.


Monaco 2011, China 2007, Canada 2011, Canada 2008, Monza 2009 etc etc. Have a look at these Grand Prix my friend and let me know what happened. Yup – Lewis crashed or ended up in the gravel trap when the smarter option would have been to hold back a bit. It is what makes Lewis who he is I suppose and a damn fast racing driver.

James, it would have been interesting to have a stat on how many they crashed out of due to driver error.


not sure about that. even though Brazil’s corner-one incident was down to the Hulk’s overstep, one can’t help but wonder if a

smarter Hamilton would have not so obviously

(mind you, from my armchair perspective!)

pushed into what only looked like an imminent

disaster! but i would say Hamilton was very

impressive this year, and i feel for him,

not having the necessary reliability across

the season.


I’m not talking about the past I’m talking about the present. Hamilton has matured and i don’t see any evidence of this so called ‘win or bust’ attitude in 2012.


McLaren’s lack of achievement over the last three seasons is a significant indictment. Football managers are held accountable for any shortfall in results and are frequently sacked; in Formula One things are different. I’m not suggesting Martin Whitmarsh should be sacked, but if this were football he would be stacking shelves in Aldi by now. So what makes F1 different? What is underpinning the continued faith these teams have in their managers?

Warren Groenewald

McLaren have won a third of the races in the last three years competing against a very, very strong Red Bull. Don’t see how you can be fired for that.


The DNFs is the most telling fact. James, you should also have done a DNFs from the lead comparison


That would be an interesting stat!

… however I have a feeling James will dig it out but it won’t be what we expect!


It’s fair to say Button has had a significantly better car than Hamilton over the 3 years due to differences in reliability, so it’s not that meaningful to compare points tallies.

Hamilton’s mechanical failures:

1.Tyre blow out (Spain, 2010)

2. Transmission failure (Hungary, 2010)

3. Transmission failure (Brazil, 2011)

4. Premature gearbox change penalty (China, 2012)

5. Transmission failure (Signapore, 2012)

6. Misc. suspension component failure (Japan, 2012)

7. Anti roll bar failure (Korea, 2012)

8. Fuel pump failure (Abu Dhabi 2012)

And now for Button..

1. Failed radiator (Monaco 2010)

2. Wheel falls off (Great Britain, 2011)

3. Hydraulics failure (Germany 2011)

4. Broken exhaust (Bahrain 2012)

5. Fuel pump failure (Italy 2012)

Considering that there is little a driver can do pesonally to ‘manage’ the reliability of a modern F1 car, it is clear that Hamilton has had the worse car of the two. If you also consider the fact that Hamilton’s car failures cost him more dearly than Button’s due to the drivers’ respective positions when they occured, it is obvious that a points tally is quite an unfair comparison between team mates in this instance.


Plus Button drove into Hamilton in Canada 2011, the race many of his fans regard as his best… not mentioning spinning Alonso round and getting no penalty..


Hamilton wasn’t alongside Button Lewis’s front tyre made contact with Buttons rear tyres, and as for the Alonso incident, if I rightly recall, Jenson marginally ahead on the inside line but Alonso had the faster outside line going into the chicane, doesn’t leave enough room and they make contact. The stewards called that one a racing incident. Since that year, drivers are now required to give each other enough room when defending and attacking. It was also noted at the time that Button had made an attempt to avoid the incoming Alonso.

IMO Button has far less incidents with other drivers and is respected as one of the cleanest and best overtakers in F1, but you have to consider that he had to overtake everyone in the field that day and some more than once to win the Canadian GP even forcing Vettel into an error at the end.

Button is not perfect and as a follower I am the first to note his faults, but in Canada 2011 he drove incredibly well, and I am not the only one to think so.


Front wheel next to rear wheel: that’s called alongside… Not completely alongside but significantly enough. The FIA have clarified this rule exactly because of incidents like that…


Well I am not a steward, but I do know the stewards considered both incidents individually. If I rightly recall, Lewis Hamilton hit Webber during that race and recieved no penalty either. In the Hamilton Button incident at least, Button was hit from behind and Lewis was trying to overtake in an uncharecteristic place, Button took the exact same line he’d taken on other laps according to telemetry and the stewards opinions and scrutiny. So add that to your notes. They are not my opinions, they are the facts.


Nick, similarly you don’t drive in to a wedge-shaped space that will be gone by the time you get there.

With the Alonso one, he was alongside in the braking zone, Fernando tried to out-brake and go round the outside but squeezed him on to the inside kerb, which meant he slid in to the side of the Ferrari. Therefore judged a racing incident. Similar to the Lewis/Webber one, in other words.




I take your point..but just because it is your normal racing line doesn’t mean you can drive there when another car is alongside. What about the Alonso one then? That was pretty clear cut


Transmission failures in Japan 2010 (before qualy, handed a 5 place penalty) and in the race he lost 3rd gear and had to give the position to Button’s benefit…


Are you sure your stats are comprehensive? Button had a gearbox penalty at Suzuka, are there any others you’ve omitted?


The old adage has never rung more true: “To finish first, first you have to finish.”

In this Button has proven to be the wiser head. I wonder how many of Hamilton’s ‘mechanical failures’ had to do with his driving style breaking the car? I guess we’ll never know but it would be fair to assume that Hamilton is harder on his car than Button, hence his ability to wring more speed out of it.


I wonder about this two – Interesting that Lewis had 3 transmission failures out of 8 , and Jenson none out of five – maybe that is how he makes it go quicker in quali..? by thrashing the car


Grat, if you are slower at the end of the straight, and carrying more drag/downforce, you will be able to brake later and accelerate sooner.

All that tweet told people was that Lewis was incredibly annoyed to have been out qualified and, childishly, wanted to make sure that everyone knew it wasn’t his fault.

Even though he was still slower than JB when they both had the Spa-spec wing on the cars in FP3, which people have a habit of forgetting occasionally…


Yes, but the transmission is computer controlled– all the driver is doing is clicking a button. The computer manages the downshift/upshift.

So how do you thrash a computer?

Going off-track and bouncing the car too much can apparently unsettle them (which might explain Schumacher’s DNF at Australia this year).

If you want to know how Lewis manages to be so fast in qualifying, go look at the telemetry he tweeted from Spa– he brakes later, accelerates sooner.

That tweet also plays nicely into this discussion– Hamilton showed the world that he’s a faster driver than Button– slapping the engineers who told him the Hungary-spec wing would be as fast as Button’s Spa-spec wing was a bonus.


how can you “thrash” a sequential transmission?

Warren Groenewald

“Considering that there is little a driver can do pesonally to ‘manage’ the reliability of a modern F1 car”

You sure about that? There seems to be an awful lot of transmission or gearbox failures on that list.

I doubt F1 teams pay any less attention to one particular car than they do they the other. I’d imagine all the parts need to pass a QC test before they’re fitted.

It can’t be coincidence that certain drivers almost always have more reliability issues than their team mate.


It would be nice to add which position in the race was this driver running at the time when the failure occurred.

In many cases, Hamilton retired from the lead.


Totally agree.

Now imagine if McLaren still had Newey. Red Bull would be racing against Mercedes and McLaren would have had a few more constructors and drivers championships under the belt.


What about driver related incidents? Anyone know how they compare?


Yeah well said & given Lewis will win 2 out of 3 races that means the numbers blow out even more

Mike from Colombia

What about stats for being taken out by other drivers through no fault of their own?

Colombia Concalvez

Lewis also had a gearbox failure in Japan 2010



Ham – 13

But – 8

Surely he’s also crashed more to make up the difference though?!


Absolutely, and that’s to Hamilton’s detriment. But he also had more mechanical/operational failures, even if you totally ignore all the crashed regardless of fault he would almost certainly have outscored Button.


It was always strange how it was nearly always hamilton’s pitstop they messed up too


OR…does the driver and how he uses/abuses the car have anything to do with reliability…like tires…some can save and some cannot…you can abuse a car


If Button’s car had no failures, then I would agree. He is supposedly the more gentle driver, but he has had failures too. I think three more failures over 3 years is not statistically significant and don’t indicate that Lewis is harsher on his car than Button. For the most part I think failures are due to minor faults in engineering that can be negated somewhat but never eradicated. In bridge building etc. things are over engineered to compensate for this, but in F1 the margins are run much closer, so we can expect failures to happen. 8-5 is not a big difference really and to my mind is just luck of the draw.


Well said.


Oh boy! I’ve only read the title of this article, so far, and I laughed myself silly. James, you are one courageous man. Strap on your helmet, keep your head down & get deep in the foxhole. Serious incoming imminent!

Now I’ll read your article. Good luck.



Interesting statistics, ignore the qualifying because you get no points for that itself, and there’s not much to choose between them.

There’s no question about Hamilton’s one lap pace, but I suspect that the McLaren designers have steered the design more to Hamilton’s style of driving.

You can argue that statistics aren’t everything, but three years of data is a good sample. Hamilton’s qualifying advantage hasn’t materialised in the same way in race results.

It all points to one of two things: either Hamilton is overrated or Button is underrated.

I believe Button is a better race driver than he seems to be perceived to be, but needs to improve his qualifying pace.

If you assume Button had more or less matched Hamilton in qualifying, imagine what statistics we would be looking at now. Probably Button would have been significantly ahead.


seeing as McLaren have 2 design teams, that design the car on alterante years, maybe Lewis suited the ’10, ’12 cars and Jenson the ’11 (and ’13) only time will tell.

I also wonder about the difference between JB and LHs driving styles, Lewis very aggressive tyre wear, turn in etc, Jenson very smooth, and whether this contributed to Jensons set up ‘dead end’ this year…?

With Perez’s driving style its not going to be any easier for the Macca boys to make a car suit both SP and JB – will be interesting to see where they end up next season –

-cant wait! Great article again JA


Hmm, I’m not sure that McLaren do that anymore, with the different design teams in alternate years. Could be wrong though. Certainly those ’09 guys screwed up massively, and ’11 didn’t start out so well in winter testing either. So maybe yer right.


You can as well say that ‘if the mclaren of 2012 was reliable’button would have been trailing by more than 100 points…


Ok we’ll ignore the major failing of this year Ferrari, qualifying pace, which if Fernando had in his Ferrari would,most likely have resulted in home winning this years world drivers title.


Excellent work. A great driver pairing that also highlights the strength of Red Bull for the team not to have at least won a Constructors’ Championship.


+ 1

Together they formed the strongest pair of all. In spite of this season, 2011 was evidence that Button can reach as high as anybody. His move on Kimi in Texas was stunning.

Nobody seems to know just why Hamilton decided to retire from the elite end of the grid, and we may still be baffled this time next year …..


I don’t care what the numbers say anyone who doesn’t think that McLaren are very much weakened by losing Lewis is a fool. Lewis is an all time great all ready and jenson will never be. Jenson is a very very good driver. He just doesn’t have that last bit that Lewis, Fernando and vettel have. He isn’t as relentless and as consistent as those 3. Still a great team professional tho which I respect.



When he backs it up with a few more championships then he will deserve the title of “all time great”

Here are a few “all time greats”

Michael Schumacher – 7 WDC
Juan Manuel Fangio – 5 WDC
Alain Prost – 4 WDC
Jack Brabham – 3 WDC
Sir Jackie Stewart – 3 WDC
Niki Lauda – 3 WDC
Nelson Piquet – 3 WDC
Ayrton Senna – 3WDC
Sebastian Vettel – 3 WDC

Then you could list all the drivers (6 of them) that have 2 WDC and then you could also list the other 16 drivers alongside Lewis who have 1 WDC.

Don’t get me wrong, Lewis is a fast driver, but to call him a great is just plain insulting to the guys in the List above who have multiple titles. Some of which did not have the likes Ron Dennis’s silver spoon to help them along.

Let be honest here. good driver but lets see how he goes in a new car and new team??


You are aruging Nelson Piquet was just as good as Senna, and significantly better than Jim Clark

Or that Stirling Moss (no WDCs) and Nigel Mansell (1 WDC and more wins than any except Schumacher, Prost and Senna – 1 ahead of Alonso) were pretty mediocre.

The absurdity of such an argument is plain to see.

I can’t get to my database which I will share at some point but I think Ham has won more races than anyone one-time champtionship winner except for Mansell and Damon Hill. He’s matched Niki Lauda and Mika Hakinnen for wins (from fewer starts than either), but unlike Mika didn’t have the benefit of an Adrian Newey designed car. He’s the only driver to have won a race in each of the last 6 seasons. Etc, etc Great is more than the tally of WDCs won.


Piquet was very highly regarded by both Gordon Murray, who also worked with Senna at McLaren so is in a position to make the comparison.



I do hear your point regarding Michael and Ferrari’s dominance, and yes i agree that Michael did some very questionable things and these are inexcusable. But…. These were isolated incidents in a career that that showed from an early stage that Michael was going to be a great driver. Take away all the things that may have cast a shadow over Michaels career and there is still an awful lot of highlights and great drives and even great championships. You cant blame him for wanting to be in a team that is dominate, if not him, it would of been someone else. That all go’s into the pot to lead to becoming a great driver. I really like Damon Hill also, I feel he was duded big time.

I guess in the end all my point was that i think to call Lewis an “all time great” at this stage of his career is a little premature. Sure if he goes on to win more WDC or turns Merc around and has a lot more success, then sure, maybe put him in that category but at this stage, he is a good, fast driver and i honestly hope for his sake that Merc do build him a good car.

Colombia Concalvez

Spot on!

Colombia Concalvez

@Craig, Complete nonsense!, Lewis lost WDC due bad strategy and car failures in 2007, 2010 and 2012 so your whole list of stats ain’t failed here or do you want to blame Lewis for it ?


Craig, I do have some sympathy for your points, especially the support Lewis has had, and the fact he has never driven a poor car for a second class team, possibly until next year. But equally Michael Schumacher at Ferrari had every advantage, and as a Damon Hill supporter, no class and no sportsmanship. I dont rate him at all, his seven championships should be viewed in same light as Lance’s Tour De France victories. Tainted by Ferrari’s political dominance and financial clout.

I think however that given the strength of the Mercedes team, and the investment Mercedes has made in engineering and drivers they must be able to be in the top four teams next season.

If not then they will always stuggle, and Lewis will have backed the wrong horse.

Equally as others have said if Lewis was an all time great why is that neither Red Bull or Ferrari wanted him at all, and in fact have never been linked with him.

Yet I believe Ferrari did want Jenson, but he stayed put because he didnt want to play second fiddle to anyone, and they would love to have Vettel……………

So I think that says how the top teams view Lewis, fragile, tough on the machinery, a good driver, but a long long way from a great one.


OH my apologies Colombia, i forgot that its everyone else fault Lewis didn’t win. I keep forgetting he is a mistake free driver and everyone else is not on the same level.

Get a grip mate, numbers speak volumes and his do not stack up to some of the others in the sport. I cant wait to see Jenson sail past Hamilton next year!!

@F1 bobby, i disagree, isn’t the reason these drivers compete to be the best. I would have 1 Vettel over 20 Hamilton’s.


The numbers tell only some of the story. Stirling won zero world championships but is arguably in the top 5 drivers of all time.

The fact that Vettel has three titles, Alonso two and Hamilton one doesn’t automatically place Vettel as one of the all time greats.

IMO Vettel can win half-a-dozen titles and he still wouldn’t be the equal of Alonso or Hamilton.



No, not an anti Hamilton person, i can appreciate a very talented and fast driver when i see one, what really annoys me is the amount of people who praise him up SOOO much ie “ALL TIME GREAT”, when in my opinion, he is not at that stage yet, on his way, lets hope so, but not there yet.

I reference guys who had won WDC as when you hear Lewis talk himself (as with most drivers), that’s his goal, to become a multiple drivers champion, too win more. That is the goal of all drivers, to become a great.

I lost so much respect for Lewis after he clearly broke rules etc by tweeting data etc and then the way he treated the team that has looked after him so much, even the reaction that Jenson had “unfollowed” him on twitter.. geez mate, got a few issues much????

Sure, not all one way traffic and i am sure that McLaren have their skeletons in the closet, but the way that it was billed that Lewis was better than the team, sorry, that’s where i draw the line. Lewis is the one that needs to “grow up” as you put it and show McLaren and his doubters by beating them and winning.

Maybe all the controversial issues all falls down to XIX, if so then again cant blame just XIX, Lewis is the one who signed on the dotted line.

Anyway, I apologize for my tongue in cheek comment. Its just my opinion i understand that there will be others that disagree.

Lets just hope Merc give him the chance to show his talent next year.

Colombia Concalvez

”OH my apologies Colombia, i forgot that its everyone else fault Lewis didn’t win” – seriously don’t give me this childish comment, grow up!, and you sound like a very anti Hamilton person can you explain why

Colombia Concalvez

I believe Lewis was the backbone at McLaren, i don’t believe Button will keep McLaren at the top for a minute. Look his races in Malaysia to Monaco, a complete mess he made of it, Button simply dragged the whole team backwards because he could not adept when needed. the prospect for McLaren are that good to be honest


Jeez I think you should all stop shouting and consider what counts.

The best driver in F1 is Alonso, thats accepted by just about everyone, he’s a double world champion, and 4 points off being a triple world champion this year in the 3rd best car over the season.

Lewis was fourth, not second as he should have been, driving the second fastest car without question.

Yes luck comes into it, but Lewis is not just unlucky in one season he is consistently unlucky, and that shows there is a fundemental issue.

I feel its because his style takes too many risks and eventually something breaks, be that the car or Lewis himself.

Equally I think many would acknowledge that Lewis is not really a thinking driver, he drives fast to the instructions given to him. But does not make decisions in the race for himself.

Button was fifth this year, and equally was in the second fastest car overall. So frankly neither can say they’re out performing the machinery as Alonso did.

Both of them are WDC, but equally both have only won it once when their car was significantly better than their rivals.

Yes Vettel can be regarded as such for his first two WDC titles he had by far the best car, but this year you have to give him credit for making the best of the car he had which at the start of the season was not as fast, and he make the most of the opportunities when they came. Just look at Webber in comparison he didnt perform as well by a long way, a true second driver.

And lastly March this year was a long time ago, Lewis was on pole Jenson was second, and who won the race, Jenson. He was significantly faster than Lewis who I believe eventually finished third.

What excuse do you have for that ?

Neither Lewis or Jenson have the sheer ability to drive a poor car beyond its inherent capabilities consistently and therefore I am sorry bnut Lewis cannot be considered an F1 great. He just isnt and hasnt shown that he can be either, lets hope maturity comes and I am proven wrong, but I think the decision to move to Mercedes proves the point, he went for the money and an easier life with less out of car work rather than stay with a team that has a chance of delivering the WDCV title he says he craves so much.

Facts make things true opinions are worthless.

Lets see how this comment is downplayed by the faithful Hamilton fans who cant see beyond their own self serving religous fervor.


In 2008 the Ferrari was the fastest car, by some ways. By wins, poles, fastest laps, it was clearly faster than the McLaren that year. The McLaren was no dog, but it wasn’t the fastest.

By hook or by crook, Hamilton won with that car, with both Ferrari drivers, both BMW drivers, and Alonso in the Renault between him and his teammate in the DWC standings.

When Hamilton gets the reliabastest car (reliable and fast), the DWC will inevitably follow. The only time Hamilton’s had such a car was 2007, when 1) he was a rookie, and 2) he had a 2x reigning DWC as his teammate. Even with those factors acting against him, he should’ve won the DWC in his rookie year, and very almost did.


Hmm, Lewis is the only driver on the grid to win a DWC without the team winning the WCC. In his DWC year, his teammate finished in 7th, which hasn’t happened in the modern era of F1.

Lewis was able to win a DWC in a not-the-fastest car. Alonso came very close this year, granted (and Massa would finish in that same 7th as Heikki did), but ultimately no cigar.


“Lewis was fourth, not second as he should have been, driving the second fastest car without question.”

Lewis would have been comfortably ahead of Kimi and rivalling Alonso and Vettel once you take all the things out of his control into account.

“Yes luck comes into it, but Lewis is not just unlucky in one season he is consistently unlucky, and that shows there is a fundemental issue.

I feel its because his style takes too many risks and eventually something breaks, be that the car or Lewis himself.”

Very few of his mechanical retirements have been even remotely within his control, to say nothing of the operational failures to do with refuelling etc.

“Equally I think many would acknowledge that Lewis is not really a thinking driver, he drives fast to the instructions given to him. But does not make decisions in the race for himself.”

It’s certainly an area where he could improve, and Button has the clear edge here. But Button is probably the best driver on the grid at this. And Lewis is able to make strategic calls and read the race around him, such as in Canada this year when he beat Alonso and Vettel through strategy.

“Button was fifth this year, and equally was in the second fastest car overall. So frankly neither can say they’re out performing the machinery as Alonso did.”

I agree, Button underperformed this year, but I think Hamilton got as much out of the McLaren as Alonso got out of the Ferrari.

“Both of them are WDC, but equally both have only won it once when their car was significantly better than their rivals.”

In 2008 the McLaren and Ferrari were evenly matched, if not a slight pace advantage to Ferrari. In 2009 Brawn clearly had an advantage at the start of the season, but Red Bull was consistently faster in the second half of the season, and Jenson made the difference with some key poles/overtakes at critical points (Bahrain, Spain, Monaco).

“Yes Vettel can be regarded as such for his first two WDC titles he had by far the best car, but this year you have to give him credit for making the best of the car he had which at the start of the season was not as fast, and he make the most of the opportunities when they came. Just look at Webber in comparison he didnt perform as well by a long way, a true second driver.”

I agree.

“And lastly March this year was a long time ago, Lewis was on pole Jenson was second, and who won the race, Jenson. He was significantly faster than Lewis who I believe eventually finished third.

What excuse do you have for that ?”

No excuses, I posted on this site at the time that I thought it was Jenson’s best win of his career, and certainly at McLaren. But it was one race, Jenson didn’t outpace Lewis to that scale again until Belgium.

“Neither Lewis or Jenson have the sheer ability to drive a poor car beyond its inherent capabilities consistently and therefore I am sorry bnut Lewis cannot be considered an F1 great. He just isnt and hasnt shown that he can be either, lets hope maturity comes and I am proven wrong, but I think the decision to move to Mercedes proves the point, he went for the money and an easier life with less out of car work rather than stay with a team that has a chance of delivering the WDCV title he says he craves so much.”

Lewis drove a very poor car in the first half of 2009 and performed adequately with it. When Alonso was in a poor car in 2009 he was the same. As for the Mercedes move, I’m sure money was a part of it, but he can hardly be blamed for that, I can’t imagine any of the drivers would be happy taking a pay cut, and he still reportedly earns less than Alonso.

“Facts make things true opinions are worthless.”

Facts inform opinions, they are not mutually exclusive.

“Lets see how this comment is downplayed by the faithful Hamilton fans who cant see beyond their own self serving religous fervor.”

See above.


I suppose you consider Alonso’s opinion worthless as well:

“I have said he is the only one capable of winning without having the best car. The others win if the car is good, and when it is not [good], they do not [win].” — Fernando Alonso, talking about Hamilton’s move to Mercedes.


Button did better than most people thought he would. Hamilton is the quicker driver, but Button seems to be the craftier racer. McLaren lose the pizazz and pandemonium that surrounds Hamilton but they have a WDC and a promising young talent as their race drivers in 2013. Question is whether Hulkenberg would be a better choice over Perez.


Interesting read. McLaren obviously know how to pick drivers. Amazing they didn’t win a championship in three years, but shows how dominant red bull have been.


…, but shows how dominant Vettel has been.

Considering the statistics Webber:Vettel


It finished 11:9 in favour of Vettel this year in qualifying. Vettel didn’t have a second win until the 14th round! Fortunately for him, the car came good, he won 4 on the trot, and for all intents and purposes, that was that.

As for Webber he did an earlier Button after re-signing after his Silverstone win. Totally into the wilderness from Germany to Singapore.


And shows how well they obviously don’t know how to give their excellently picked drivers the right equipment when necessary to win them.

Button and Hamilton did take a lot of points off each other at times in comparison to Red Bull/Ferarri but if McLaren had’ve produced a car worthy of a drivers title, they should’ve at least won a constructors. Which is why I was pretty disappointed with them this year. It was like 2005 all over again and they’ve done this before many times. The McLaren was arguably the most consistently fastest car all year and due to unreliability and mishaps both title hopes fell to the wayside. That’s F1, though and I suppose for McLaren not every can be 1988 even if you have everything seemingly in the right places.


I agree with them taking points off each other. Both drivers are so different which meant McLaren could get one driver to do well at each race, but not both. Maybe Perez will be more like Button, allowing both drivers to get good points?


Ferrari and Red Bull would jump at the chance to have Hamilton as their lead driver (should the circumstances be right)

I can’t see the same interest for Button

I like Button as a driver and he surprised me with how competitive he was against Hamilton at McLaren but he seems to not quite have that extra 0.01%.

Good chance he surprises us all next year and wins the championship in a very quick McLaren though


I agree totally. Good point.


Wasn’t Hamilton given a cool shoulder when he had a chat with Christian Horner over to the RBR garage last year? After the McLaren saga, I can’t imagine him and Alonso ever being teammates again either.

It seems like he wanted something that was not McLaren and Mercedes was the only taker.


Button was heavily linked with Ferrari mid 2011, before signing a three year deal with McLaren?


‘Ferrari and Red Bull would jump at the chance to have Hamilton as their lead driver (should the circumstances be right)’.

You mean if Hulkenberg, Kimi, Weber, Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Grojean or di Resta aren’t available.


We get it, you’re not a fan of Lewis, but really? Which team would rather have Webber,Hulk,Massa,Grosjean or di Resta as a lead driver? All of those drivers aside from Kimi, Alonso and Seb are also-rans.


No you know I don’t think he does mean that…


I agreed with you up until the name grosjean was mentioned……….ferrari and redbull would have to change their budgets massively, 50% for r&d and 50% for repair costs and fia fines! 😉


It’s clear from your posts that you don’t like Hamilton. Can you explain why this is?



A lot of people that don’t like Hamilton are most likely racist, even though they will unquestionably deny this


I find his post refreshingly detached from reality. 😀


Not sure that’s true. We all have preferences for one reason or another and I’m sure James does too, but I find his posts refreshingly unpartisan.


My posts keep posting in the wrong place! This one was aimed at ‘james_m’, who clearly has an anti-Hamilton view.


Now, no doubt, the fans will be throwing their toys out the pram, but Button has proved that he is a much more consistent driver than Hamilton over the three years at Mclaren. While Ham was getting himself invovled in various incidents, Button was camly picking up points and wins. Ham needs to improve his racecraft considerably if he wants to win more championships, although it has got slightly better this season (but 3 incidents is stil a lot). At this moment, if I’m honest, there is a quartet that rules F1 which is made up of Button, Alonso, Riakkonnen and Vettel (Vettel is still slightly overrated in my opinion, the majority of his victories have come from an outright dominant car). Hamilton was great five years ago, but sadly has been usurped by Button who is now the better driver (15 points outscored over 3 years). Unfortunately, due to his rash decision to go to Mercedes, forgetting that Mclaren cost Jenson as many points as Hamilton (Button’s Bahrain-Canada form was largely due to Mclaren’s inability to solve tyre issues) he will pick up where Schumacher has left off, whereas the aforementioned top four will battle it out for the titles for many more years to come 🙂


Please don’t compare Alonso and Kimi to Button. It’s just wrong.


To be fair these are the top two drivers most similar to Button because they all excell in the race but fail to achieve optimum qualifying performance. Vettel and Hamilton are the kings of qualifying.


I think Alonso and Kimi just didn’t have a quali car for years now, while Button is definitely way too dependent on rear end stability.

When Alonso had really fast cars in 2005, 2006 and 2007, he had quite a few poles. Even in 2010. And honestly, even this year. It might have been raining, but he was the one who as sure as hell nailed that thing to the pole position.

It just shows that he didn’t really have a car for too long now, that would give him that much advantage. Over the race, there’s much more to do, so he can influence it much more then quali. Quali is one lap, and there’s not much a driver can do.

Look at Kimi in 2005 and 2007 and 2008. He was on poles as often as any other rival.

This year’s Ferrai and Lotus have been rather kind on their tires which helped their race pace but screwed their quali pace. Even Vettel whom you call quali master managed just 3 poles this year until Suzuka, when they introduced improved DRS for quali. That’s 3 compared to Alonso’s 2 in a car that was way slower then Red Bull.


Yes, Jenson is very consistent. The problem for McLaren is that Lewis is the driver on the up, since his performance for 2012 was far better than his 2011 season. I am sure Jenson will do another consistent, reasonable job in 2013, but there is no reason to think it will be any better than this year. He will score a few more point if McLaren fix the reliability, but I do not see Jenson challenging for the championship. I do think Jenson is a very good driver, arguably the best No.2 driver on the grid, but he was not on the same form as Lewis, Vettel and Alonso this season.


Then again Jenson was the driver on the up last year and look at how this year ended up – year on year continuation of form is no certainty.

I think the tyre issues (as described by Button’s huge issue of discrepancy front to rear temperature) really hurt Button this year. Just as the more fragile 2011 tyres helped him (higher thermal degradation). Next years appear to be more towards the 2011 tyres which will help him – based on the reaction of the teams to the Brazil test tyre.

Hamilton was the class of the field this year (as a Button fan) – hands down deserved the title and through no fault of his own ended up 4th! He has matured into – and I doubt few will agree – but probably the most complete driver on the grid (taking the mantle from Alonso) at the end of the year.

Unfortunately for him I don’t see the Merc being quick next year and in 2014 I see one of the other engine manufacturers stealing a march (remember Red Bull are now the works team and lets not forget about Ferrari). I really hope that contract leaks like a sieve as we all know he will be welcomed back to McLaren with open arms.


Completely wrong, except for the description top tier of driver inclusions: Kimi, Alonso, Vettel, but the other inclusion is most definitely Lewis Hamilton.

I’d say the next guy after that group would be Button, then probably Webber, Massa, etc… maybe Nico.

Your sad underlying assumption, that the Ross Brawn strategic and tactical genius, proven as extreme as the Adrian Newey extremeness, (in contributing to world championships) I believe to be quite weak.

He did it with this team once, already; the question is, will this corporate infrastructure and the accompanying implicit constraints (anyone who has ever served in one would know), emasculate this proven genius, or not?

I hope for ‘no’.

Therefore, I believe that Mercedes could be as quick out of the box as McLaren were this year, for the start of 2013!

Lewis is currently well in my running for next year’s world champion, with the other three on my top tier; a few others, including Button.


How is Button the better driver than Hamilton? Hamilton has both outraced and outqualified him over the 3 years! The reason why Button has outscored Hamilton is because Hamilton has lost way more points from retirements and failures.

Hamilton’s 3 incidents this year were not his fault! Maldonado, Grosjean and Hulk were both given penalties for the clashes, so obviously it was their faults.

Hamilton has lost at least 4 wins of points through failures, operational errors, and crashes not his fault (120 pts) while Button has only lost a 2nd place in Italy and a low-scoring finish in Korea and Bahrain. (30 pts). And how come when Hamilton couldn’t make his tyres last in 2011 it was blamed on his inability to look after the tyres, but when Button couldn’t this year, it was the team’s fault and Button was faultless?

Colombia Concalvez

+1 agree


All three of Hamilton’s incidents weren’t his fault, the other driver was penalised by the stewards every time. Even ignoring those, if you add back the points both drivers have lost from mechanical failures/operational mistakes over the three years, Hamilton is ahead of Button. That’s not “fanboyism” it’s just how things have played out.


I guess the point is that unless a collision, break down or pit stop calamity happens in sight of the chequered flag, there’s simply no way that you can say that the points awarded for the position the car was in at the time were the ones that car would have ended the race with – who knows what would have happened during those races had those events not occurred?

As Murray used to say ‘If is F1 backwards’ – All drivers have their share of DNFs due to car failures, own-fault accidents, no-fault accidents, partial-fault accidents – it’s part of motor racing. If you discount enough extenuating circumstances, you could happily argue the case for Andrea de Cesaris being the most successful theoretical grand prix driver of all time!


Of course you can never say for certain, but you can put forward an educated opinion. Hamilton was comfortably in front of Button in Abu Dhabi and Singapore when he retired, in Spain he finished ahead of him even coming from the back of the grid, so it’s hardly a stretch that say that he would have closed the points gap in those races. Loads of other people have done detailed analysis on this, and they all indicate Hamilton has lost comfortably more than the 15 points he finished behind.


“While Ham was getting himself invovled in various incidents, Button was camly picking up points and wins.”

You plainly haven’t read

Which lists the 110 points Hamilton lost before this weekend and you can add another 25 to that.

Unless you think that Hamilton got himself involved in Hulkenburg’s move this weekend.

Hamilton colided with Grosjean in Spa.

Oh … wait a momenent the stewards penalized the other drivers in both those cases. And the Stewards have historically been pretty anti-Hamilton..

Hamilton broke the fuel pump in Abu Dhabi

He broke the gearbox in Singapore

He broke the anti-roll bar in Korea

He didn’t put the right amount of fuel in the car in Spain.

He loused up the pitstops in Bahrain Monaca and Europe – which put into harm’s (or rather Maldonado’s) way.

Here’s the brutal truth for Mclaren. They can’t string the pitstops and reliabilty together to take an all out racer to the championship. James’ earlier article shows if Mclaren had the mechanical and pit-stop record of Ferrari or Red Bull Hamilton would have been champion. And they would have had the constructors to go with it.

The car isn’t fast enough regularly enough for a careful accumulator like Jenson to be in well up the points to even Finish ahead of Kimi. You can point to them not being on top of the tyres or any manner of other things.

If I were Martin Whitmarsh I’d be very glad Roman Abramovich has no interest in Mclaren. Mclaren had a car which should have challenged for both championships and they came 3rd in the Constructors, 4th in the drivers, and lost the guy most likely to win races for them.

Don’t forget that Lewis joined Mclaren when they were the Mercedes works team, his relationship was with Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug. With Ron gone, Whitmarsh couldn’t keep Lewis from joining Haug.

Button has had two good seasons in his career. The one at Brawn, and the 2nd Mclaren one. Oddly the Brawn had a double diffuser and the 2011 Mclaren the exhaust blown diffuser. When the regs give cars with lots of year grip – I’d expect Button to do better relative to the others. In cars which slide about more I’d expect him to do worse.


you’re forgetting 2004, when he finished 3rd behind the hugely dominant ferraris. That was an excellent season for him too.



Button was embarrassingly trounced this year in all facets of being a racing driver just for the record.

Honestly the only person who can soundly beat Lewis is Lewis himself.



Well said Sir, if there was such a thing as justice Hamilton would have, at the very least have been champion this year (2012).


Excellent comment.

I fear that Mclaren will miss Hamilton an awful lot next year. And if Mercedes are not competitive then the 2013 championship will be poorer spectical as a result.

Equally, if Mclaren are competitive next year and Button is getting the results. Hamilton will be thinking what if I was still at Mclaren.

Colombia Concalvez




Hamilton was flawless this year.


You could not have read the article, or have been watching over the past three years to have arrived at that conclusion.


What planet are you on?! sorry, but Ham has been magnificent this year and to say the top 4 is Button and Raikonnen and excluding Hamilton is nonsensical. I am not bythe way a Ham devotee, but a long suffering Williams supporter.


Actually, contrary to your comments, id say Button’s inconsistency over a season is why he hasnt been a regular championship contender, in fact, he hasnt been over all 3 years.

Hamilton was in 2010 and the majority of 2012, despite setbacks out of his control almost throughout the last season.

Button’s pace dropped off when Mclaren had to make changes which affected the front end early on and he appeared to be unable to energise his front tyres, meanwhile Hamilton was competing for podiums and taking front row qualifying spots most weekends. When Button is on song he’s pretty much as fast as anyone, but he is not very adaptable and his 1 lap pace has to be in question.

Overall, I dont agree with a the majority of your post!


OJ’s just stirrin’ the pot, pay no mind.


Both are great drivers and I really enjoyed the three years they were teammates, however, when Mclaren are 4th and 6th on the grid next year, and button says we need to make the car faster with up grades, Lewis probably would have taken pole, such as in Singapore and Abu Dhabi this year.


Agreed! I do wonder though how Ham and Brawn will work/bond together. Cant wait for the next season.


Spot on!


How many team principles would choose Button over Hamilton as their #1 driver?


those who are looking for a #2 driver 😉


Mclaren for one….


KRB, you seem to be a stats driven man, which is good, and means, theoretically at least, that you look for balance when formulating an opinion.

It is strange, then, that you only seem to want to take note of the stats and info that allow you to maintain a certain point of view, whilst dismissing others that would challenge your view.

For example, I would imagine that, if the roles were reversed in Brazil, you would insist that it wouldn’t count (ie, JB being in the lead instead of Lewis, that is) because he benefited from a Safety Car allowing him to close up the 40-odd seconds he lost at the beginning of the race after being overtaken by his team mate and then having to pit because he was slower than said team mate, and then only inheriting the lead when the leader goes off in front of him…

It is also a nonsense to feel justified in the view that Lewis most definitely is miles better because ‘the team’ lost him 10 easy wins (alright, this is a slight exaggeration for effect…), and that would mean he comes out on top in terms of wins over the 3 seasons – he had a better season when the car was fastest for most of the year, therefore should be in a position to win more often, whilst Jenson had his best season when the car was not as quick as the Red Bull, therefore had fewer opportunities to convert the performance in to race wins.

Utimately they both had an Annus Horribilis, and they both had a really impressive season. Lewis came out on top in 2010 as well, so, over the three seasons they were together, Lewis was marginally better. Except in qualifying, where he definitely had the upper hand for the majority of the time.

The conclusion, in my ‘umble opinion, is that the commonly-held view that Lewis was going to annihilate Jenson just didn’t materialise in reality, and now, because of that, we are all trying to find other ways to justify our viewpoints.




Dave, you’re including Brazil as somewhere where JB “pounded” LH?! Lewis beat him to pole, and was beating him on track when he was taken out by a near-rookie caught up thinking more that the day would be his, instead of thinking about how to drive in damp conditions.

Be thankful for LH’s many retirements this year, three from the lead. If it was 7-2 in wins this year, there’d be no opening whatsoever for the Button-backers.



Don’t forget Mclaren is a car manufacturer, electronics manufacturer, engineering consultant etc. They to sell products to fund their racing


I don’t know why people keep saying that.

There are real reasons why Mclaren could not keep hold of Lewis, which they wanted, and most of it is financial.

Lewis had complained of Sponsorship duties earlier and I think this aspect probably stretched him a little. Mclaren are racers Ferrari RBR and Mercedes also sell other products to fund their racing. So Mclaren has to earn its money on the track and through sponsorship deals.

I guess Lewis just wanted to dump Mclaren and just race cars for a wealthier company that didn’t expect him to do any housekeeping.


Absolutely. Next year will show what JB can do since the car will be made to suit his style rather than LH’s. JB could be Brawn again..! 😉

I do not believe that McLaren had two #1 drivers. I believe they favoured LH – Ron’s boy. Look at 2012 Australia, Spa (where LH’s ego took a right pounding) and Brazil where JB trounced LH. They were allowed to happen for internal political reasons at McLaren. Equally they scuppered JB’s car after Australia. Let’s wait and see… F1 is all about politics for the bosses – the racing is incidental.


They didnt “choose it”, Hamilton left them, and every other team principal is saying McLaren is weaker because of it.

Martin Withmarsh is even considering bringing him back in the future


Thank you.

This, for me is the most telling statistics; what happens when you have BOTH drivers with the same equipment, **finish** the race:

“Interestingly however, in the races they both made the chequered flag (37) Hamilton finished in front 65% of the time with his advantage on Saturdays, unsurprisingly given the pair’s well-established relative strengths, even more pronounced”.

LH is FASTER 75% of qualifying and when he does finish the races he’s ahead 65% of the time!..Not only is he faster in qualifying, he’s faster in the races as well, barring “issues”.


Clearly people have different criteria for judging a driver’s performance. For me, its 1.)SPEED in qualifying and race, 2.)Consistency of SPEED in qualifying and race, 3.)Racecraft ( I define that as innate overtaking ability- requires speed, judgement, reflexes etc) and 4.)Attitude (hunger for success- to be THE best, functioning as a team player- relations with management, sponsors, engineers etc etc).

JA, can I ask what criteria you use in judging these drivers (my copy of your book is on the way, so perhaps its aredundant question)? And, what criteria do team principals use in evaluating the quality of a driver? could be informative to compare the results of polling fans vs. team principals/engineers


They have data, every lap the driver has turned all year in all conditions.

It’s pretty clear who the good guys are


James who would you hire if you are a team principal and you have only two options for one seat, Lewis or Jenson?


“LH is FASTER 75% of qualifying and when he does finish the races he’s ahead 65% of the time!..Not only is he faster in qualifying, he’s faster in the races as well, barring “issues”.”

Umm, don’t those numbers actually say that Button is faster in the races as he’s able to top Hamilton in races from a worse position in qualifying?

What I mean is that after Q the situation is like this:

Hamilton – Button 76%

Button – Hamilton 24%

But AFTER the race it’s like this:

Hamilton – Button 65% (-11%)

Button – Hamilton 35% (+11%)

So Button actually *gains* positions on Hamilton and performs *better* than Hamilton during the races.

To reiterate, in case Hamilton had the better race pace then you’d expect it to be more like this:

Hamilton – Button 85% (+10%)

Button – Hamilton 15% (-10%)

With Hamilton increasing his winning share from the bare qualifying advantage.

Overall I’d say that Hamilton is faster, especially over short periods like qualifying, and probably the fastest man on the grid.

But F1 isn’t just about speed so for the whole race pace, I have to argue that Button is clearly the better race driver.


Your system is terrible, to be honest. Lewis was ahead of Button more often than not, in general, lets be honest. All you have to do is watch a season or two and even in 2011 when Lewis was at his worst, He was still the clear front runner in the team. His head just wasn’t in it. All of Lewis’ DNF’s and mishaps *not entirely his fault* just add to button and your numbers only show that Button benefited from that. Not the he was ” clearly the better race driver ” Why do you think he’s so special if he basically made his mark by reaping the benefits of Lewis’s retirements? There are only a handful of times that I can think of when Button was comfortably ahead of Lewis and the pack.


When Hamilton has retired though, he was usually ahead of Button on track at the time. Obviously Brazil on Sunday, but Belgium last year, this year Valencia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi. Hamilton came from 24th on the grid in Spain this year to finish ahead of Button (Spain, notorious for no overtaking, in a race w/o a SC). Germany and Belgium were over before they got started for Hamilton this year, neither were his fault.

Hungary in 2010 Hamilton retired from 4th with a gearbox failure. Jenson finished that one in 8th, a lap down. Another big one was Spain 2010 … Hamilton retired with two laps to go while in 2nd position, with a wheel rim failure. Jenson finished 5th, a minute back of Webber.

I believe the only time Button has retired and Hamilton’s benefitted (i.e. picked up places, etc.) was in Bahrain this year, to pick up a measly 2 extra points. And really, at the time that Button actually retired, he was behind Hamilton on track.


“Umm, don’t those numbers actually say that Button is faster in the races as he’s able to top Hamilton in races from a worse position in qualifying?”


“So Button actually *gains* positions on Hamilton and performs *better* than Hamilton during the races.”

Don’t you think that that is because, by qualifying lower down, Button has a lot more cars in front of him which have “slower race pace”?

Hamilton will typically have RBR’s and Ferrari’s in front, whereas Button will have midfield teams in front.

Combine that with Hamiltons pole positions (where he has no ground to make up) compared to Buttons single pole in 3 years.

Lets also throw in the various DNF’s, of which Hamilton has had far more than Button over the 3 years, so of course Button is going to gain positions on Hamilton.

This doesn’t necessarily Button FASTER, but it makes him more CONSISTENT.


“Don’t you think that that is because, by qualifying lower down, Button has a lot more cars in front of him which have “slower race pace”?”

What I meant was that Button has “overtaken” Hamilton during the race more often than vice versa when compared to Q-results.

I don’t like the word overtake, because it’s not really on track passing we’re talking here but a combination of overtaking on track, pit strategy, tire conservation, on track events, accident avoidance, etc..

It’s not just Hamilton’s misfortune either but a type of racecraft: Button simply is more consistent and if you throw a ‘colorful’ race his way, he seems to be more likely to come out on top, while Hamilton’s more likely to come out of the top.

“Lets also throw in the various DNF’s, of which Hamilton has had far more than Button over the 3 years”

With DNFs added in the Q-would look the same:

Hamilton – Button 76%

Button – Hamilton 24%

But the race results overall, with DNFs:

Hamilton – Button 55% (-21%)

Button – Hamilton 45% (+21%)

In short: If you added all the DNFs in then Button’s better performance on track during the race would be highlighted even more.

” This doesn’t necessarily Button FASTER, but it makes him more CONSISTENT.”

Exactly my point!

Hamilton is fast…I dare say the fastest man on the grid today.

But speed is not all that there is to racing and Button is the better race driver, for now.

The difference is this:

If I was a team manager of a team which is not exactly the richest team on the grid, I’d rather have Button as my number 1 driver and would say big NO to Hamilton.

If money was absolutely no object, then I’d rather have Hamilton as number 1 driver, with Button-like number 2 driver.

For that matter, if I desperately wanted constructor’s championship, but still thought that F1-cars are pretty darn expensive, I’d go with Räikkönen & Button. 😉


And don’t forget, this does not consider the races where Hamilton retired, which Hamilton has had far more than Button while ahead of Button in a race. In qualifying all races are considered because you can’t retire in qualifying.


Nope, because at the start of the race, they all start at practically the same place on the starting grid (within 200m of each other), and thus, for Hamilton to finish ahead of Button in a race, he must have raced faster than Button as well.


Logic fail. Just sayin’


That doesn’t take into consideration that starting further back means you often find yourself driving slower than your ultimate pace because you are driving behind slower cars.

Look at Austin, Button came back to p5 in that race and ended up about 50secs behind Lewis and yet when in free air his pace was very similar to the front runners.

You have to consider that a car might have to follow another slower one for most of the lap until they come to an overtaking opportunity.


I think you are being a bit disingenuous here – The advantage is, of course, with the driver that starts in front (fewer cars in front that potentially limit that driver’s ability to lap at his optimum speed) so you would expect the ratio to remain at 75%. The fact that this ratio reduces to 65% after the race infers that Lewis didn’t generally race as well as he qualified, and that JB generally qualified worse than he raced.

Which I think, overall, is a fair conclusion to draw regarding their time together.


So qualifying is a waste of time?


Leave some space for Button fans plz 🙂


I’m not a Hamilton nor McLaren fan, but Hamilton has really beaten Button by far during their time together, though the stats may not say so. I don’t get why Button’s race skill is rated so highly!

This is the record for races they both finished in: In 2010 it was 11-3, in 2011 it was 7-7, and in 2012 it was 7-3, for a combined total of 25-13 in Ham’s favour. And this is considering 3 of Ham’s wins were when But retired and so weren’t counted, races where Ham crashed in 2011, he mostly did not retire (and are thus counted), while races where Button crashed (e.g. Mon 2012), he retired (thus not counted), and in most of Ham’s retirements, he was on course to beat Button (including 3 wins in 2012). Thus it is obvious that Hamilton has had a dominant race pace to Button, and the only time where Button has superior race pace is during changeable races, which does not happen often (2 races per season). How can that make some think that Button has all-round superior race pace to Hamilton?

And in qualifying, Hamilton’s 17-3 record, and 8 poles compared to 1, shows the domination.

This year, Hamilton has lost 4 wins, a 4th place in Valencia, and points finishes in Belgium and Germany, while Button has lost a 2nd in Italy, and a mid-pts finish in Malaysia, Bahrain and Korea. And let’s not forget that Hamilton has been on the receiving end of McLaren’s shoddy pit work for the vast majority of the time.

So Button “outscoring Hamilton over a three-year period” clearly does not show Hamilton’s dominance in their time in McLaren together, in both qualifying and race trim. The only advantage Button has is the wet weather ability.


You have to remember, In valencia without the butched pit stop Hamilton would have been in front of Alonso (who won the race).

only that pit stop put him in Maldonado’s way..


Only these “issues” do tend to include crashing into people, as James implied. Hamilton is undeniably faster, but over the 3 years Button showed he is better at reading a race (especially in mixed conditions). First you must finish – There is a higher element of risk in Hamilton’s style. I think they come out of it pretty evenly, perhaps Hamilton just tipping it on qualifying ability, but Button undeniably proved the doubters wrong over the past 3 years.


Andrew you cant remember? or you dont want to remember?

– Button crashed into Hamilton in Canada 2010 (he Button didnt even get a penalty).

– the same race while he was charging from last place, he spun an HRT of Dela Rosa (again Button didnt get a penalty).

– the same race, Button crashed into Alonso (no penalty for Button),

– Malaysia 2012: Button crashed into Kartikeyan (no penalty for Button)

– Monaco 2012: Button crashed into a Caterham (i think of Petrow or Kovalainen; still no penalty for Button).


except for Kartikeyan, obviously, but it’s telling that over 3 years we’re only discussing these few incidences.


no penalty, because he wasn’t at fault.

Colombia Concalvez

Button proved the doubter wrong ?. Owned in 2010 and erased in 2012, what has Button proved exactly ?, as far as i know nothing

Colombia Concalvez

@fellowes, and that’s the reason the team went backwards because of Button leading it the wrong directions remember and Button taken over the team ?, let him prove that in 2013 @ andrew j, are you serious ? Lewis lost over 148 points, how many did Button lost maybe 40 at the max, i can’t take you serious mate


Erased? There’s two points difference.


Yes…you know nothing. ‘owned’/’erased’ – what?! Two years were close, and third saw Button ‘own’ Hamilton. Hamilton was supposed to dominate Button, but Button has taken over the team.


I don’t think we can blame Lewis for all his crashes and retirements though.


And dont forget taking out Alonso AND Hamilton at Canada 2011…. a race he won and made everyone forget about the fact that he crashed twice


Quite a few of them, especially in 2011 were his fault. Perhaps someone will correct me, but I can’t remember Button ever causing a crash.


Malaysia this year with an HRT, very out of character as he had a chance to win on a wet/dry day


LH is the better qualifier absolutely. In F1, overtaking in equal cars is pretty tough, even for LH. I think most of LH race advantage is largly a result of qualifying ahead and staying ahead by default. there is nothing to chose in terms of race pace.


“there is nothing to chose in terms of race pace”

I think the tyres have played a large role here. The only race I remember where Hamilton has been able to attack for most of the race is Austin. This is why I am so against tyres designed with thermal degredation, it’s a ridiculous concept that if a driver drives fast they are punished.


I am with you 100%. Can we please get back to fast drivers driving fast?


For raw speed it has to be Hamilton and I am sure Button would agree.

For coolness under pressure it has to be Button.

Button is a mature driver and Hamilton maturing nicely with possibly the best to come. It will have done Hamilton good to have been given a run for his money by another driver, all part of growing up. Moving to Mercedes might be the making of Lewis.


Agree. For outright speed, Hamilton beats Button. However, Button has maturity, coolness and intelligence to compensate. In the long-run, that has seen him outscore Hamilton. Also, Button has shown that when the car suits him, even Hamilton cannot beat him.

Mclaren will need the best car next year, one that suits Button, otherwise they will probably drop to 4th or even 5th in the constructors. But with the best car, Button can deliver, just like Vettel has done.


Actually a lack of reliability for Lewis and many unfortunate events have seen him set back behind Button. It’s pretty obvious, really.


Even as a Lewis Hamilton fan I have to totaly agree with this post.

I think JB is the most under-rated driver on the grid…he’s thankfuly got a weekness in needing the ‘perfect car’…but when he has it, I’d have to admit he is probably the quickest on the grid.

I agree that LH has learnt a lot from JB about looking at the big picture, I hope that Mercedes give him a decent car, though sadly expect JB to be easily out-scoring him next season.

I’d like to agree with all the other LH fans that McLaren’s lack of reliability is the reason JB looks so good against him in the stat. tables…sadly, I’d be lying to myself!


“In the long-run, that has seen him outscore Hamilton.”

No it hasn’t, Button outscored Hamilton over three years because Lewis lost significantly more points out of his control due to mechanical/operational mistakes.


Andrew…. How many times does Hamilton have to crash, sometimes even without anyone else around…. before it’s accepted that he is driving closer to the ragged edge?

Yes, it makes him faster over the lap, but as history shows, means he finishes less races. a.k.a. less points.

Hamilton.. faster yes… entertaining yes, but better overall racer, I say the points tally puts them pretty damn even.


I hope so. I really wish that Mercedes will get their act together in a season or two.


The most telling thing about the partnership is that I have not seen Button out perform Hamiltion in any races (apart perhaps at the mid part of 2011 Season when Hamilton wasn’t on it at all).

Racing wise I have seen as a Mclaran fan Hamilton wipe the Floor with Button to be honest.

Stats only tell part of the story but watching the races tells you everything.

Hamilton will be a big miss next year to my team.


Hamilton is the greater talent