Hamilton “surprised” by Button’s pass (Turkish Grand Prix team-by-team)

The McLarens very nearly finished in the opposite order

The McLarens very nearly finished in the opposite order

While the drama at Red Bull was impossible to miss, McLaren’s one-two win at Istanbul wasn’t a straightforward affair either.

After the race there was talk of “confusion” over the drivers’ instructions to save fuel. Lewis Hamilton spoke of being “surprised” that Jenson Button caught and passed him – before Hamilton reversed the move.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 4 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’26.781 (+0.348) 1’26.433
Race position 2 1
Average race lap 1’31.901 (+0.046) 1’31.856
Laps 58/58 58/58
Pit stops 1 1

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Jenson Button

McLaren enjoyed far better performance after a poor weekend in Monaco – and Button benefited from a problem-free race after suffering car trouble in the last two rounds.

Had it not been for Michael Schumacher’s spin in qualifying Button might well have taken third off Vettel in qualifying. Unfortunately Button had let Schumacher past before starting his final flying lap.

Schumacher got past Button at the first corner as Button took care not to run into his team mate. Unlike in Spain, this time Button made short work of Schumacher, passing him on the run to turn 12.

He never looked like passing Vettel in the opening stint, nor putting a move on his team mate – until the Red Bulls went out.

After that Button first closed on Hamilton, then passed him on lap 48, only for Hamilton to reverse the move at the next corner. Button then slipped back from his team mate – as the lap time chart above shows he was suddenly around half a second per lap slower.

Compare Jenson Button’s form against his team mate in 2010

Lewis Hamilton

Bounced back from a lurid spin at turn eight in final practice – partly thanks to him dragging the car back to the pits on at least two punctured tyres.

Hamilton split the Red Bulls in qualifying and put a handy pass on Vettel on the first lap to hold onto his second place at the start.

He fell back behind Vettel due to a slow pit stop and was close behind the two RB6s when they collided on lap 41.

It’s clear from the lap times that both McLarens began – or increased – their efforts to preserve their cars from that moment on. But Hamilton slowed down more than Button as he explained after the race:

I felt confident we could get a potential one-two, and we were trying to look after the tyres and save the fuel to the finish. The [lap time] target they gave me was perhaps a little bit slower than they?d meant, so Jenson was suddenly on my tail. I had a great battle with him, and was happy to get past because it was quite a surprise.
Lewis Hamilton

Reading between the lines it seems likely the pair were told to back off, the team wishing to avoid a repeat of what had happened to Red Bull.

But it’s unlikely that having Button pass Hamilton and then be re-taken by him figured in the team’s game plan at all, and they can consider themselves lucky it didn’t end in tears.

Compare Lewis Hamilton’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Turkish Grand Prix

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202 comments on Hamilton “surprised” by Button’s pass (Turkish Grand Prix team-by-team)

  1. kbdvies said on 31st May 2010, 16:07

    There was definitely no “miscommunication, and i don’t thing Jenson pulled a sly one.

    McLaren deliberately slowed Lewis down with the “save fuel” and both cars are the same” instruction, whilst telling Jenson nothing at that point, so Jenson would overtake, and subsequently go on to win the race. i doubt Jenson was aware of the reason Lewis slowed down so much. He simply saw an opportunity. For all he knew, Lewis could have been nursing a problem. This seems to be verified later by Jenson actually slowing down, when told he was fuel critical.

    Though McLaren achieved a 1-2, they got it in the wrong order than they would have preferred. If Jenson had won, Macca would be leading both championships now by 5 points – which may prove crucial at the end of the season. A better place to be going to Canada. It makes sense to have a driver win, whose win elevates him to the top of the standings, than whose win only elevates him to 3rd in the standings.

  2. F1 Novice said on 31st May 2010, 16:20

    Who decides which snippets we get to hear on the TV anyway ?

    The edited bits we get to hear don’t paint the full picture and open up the potential for these conspiracy theories – with the technology available these days and if F1 really wants to get closer to the FANS then we should be able to tune into whichever team radios we want to and review them at our leisure at a later date if & when we want to – first and foremost the sport is there for us the FANS who have stuck by the sport through some pretty unsavoury episodes – so give us what we want.

  3. Luke said on 31st May 2010, 16:40

    All of this speculation is nonsense in my opinion. From what i make of it, both drivers were ordered to save fuel and from this, Button decided to try and make a sneaky move and catch Hamilton unaware after he was under the impression that Button was having to do exactly the same as himself. Hamilton then quickly retook the lead and looked comfortable there. Ultimately, i feel this whole thing is just a simple misunderstanding that more than likely has been resolved, or is in the process of being resolved right now. Do i think Button was wrong for doing this? No, its racing, and i’m a Hamilton fan saying this.

    Claiming favouritism is pointless based on this season’s races. Both drivers have had calls, decisions and mistakes that have gone against them and then indirectly, aided the other driver.

    McLaren are fine in terms of driver relationship i feel. Red Bull on the other hand…

  4. tinfoilhat said on 31st May 2010, 19:46

    The conspiracy theorists and Button-haters on this site are just sickening. I need to remember to just read the awesome editorial content and event coverage here on F1 Fanatic and just skip the comment section completely.

    Yes, I support Button. Why? Because he -isn’t- the absolute best all-out driver on the grid. It’s too easy to cheer for Vettel or Alonso or Hamilton. Where’s the fun in that?

    • John H said on 31st May 2010, 19:54

      While your first comment I could not agree more with, your second is a little questionable:

      Supporting a driver because he “isn’t absolute best all-out driver on the grid” is a little strange, although what ever floats your boat I guess!

      I think many support certain drivers because of my own opinions, regardless of how ‘easy’ it is to cheer them on… well I’d like to hope so anyway!

  5. Icthyes said on 31st May 2010, 20:35

    Conspiracy theories and reactionary replies to them aside…

    There’s one interesting parallel I can think of, which was the end of the San Marino Grand Prix when Pironi took the lead away from Villeneuve. Gilles’ reason for being angry? An order from the team telling them to SLOW.

    Someone yestersay (can’t remember your exact username but you have the legen – wait for it – dary Barney Stinson gravatar) made a comment about Button and Hamilton having shades of Pironi and Villeneuve. It was a very accurate observation, it seems!

  6. DaveW said on 31st May 2010, 20:42

    Button’s a great racer and a very quick guy. But I find it amusing that the proof that Button was better yesterday was precisely because he was behind Hamilton, except for after the fuel-saving instructions came in. Because he was lying in wait: he was scientifically preserving his tires and fuel, or something, working out super hard alegebra in his large brain. What exactly was he waiting for anyway—was he going to leap suddenly upon his teammate and then two RedBulls in the closing stages, with fresh-ish tires and loads of fuel, and pass them all on the track? Sounds like a brilliant plan to me. All weekend, he was not fully on par with the three cars ahead and that did not suddenly change on race day.

    Here is some news. The driver’s job is to try to win the race. That means getting out front, or putting the lead guy(s) under so much pressure they crack, while making sure you can hold your position if you don’t get ahead. Hamilton completed his mission. Vettel and arguably Webber failed the mission. And Jenson was out in the back of the lead pack doing his car preservation thing—until he saw an open handbag and thought he would have a reach in.

    • Oliver said on 31st May 2010, 21:50

      This is just too funny. :-)
      Great post mate !!!

    • kbdavies said on 1st June 2010, 9:17

      DaveW – I also find that assertion ridiculous. If you look at the lap times between all 4, they were all doing 1:30′s, separated by tenths. There is no evidence of Jenson “scientifically preserving his tires and fuel”.
      Jenson fanboys have always used this in defence of Jensons inconsistent race pace. The question is – when has he ever used this so called skill of tyre preservation to hunt down anyone on the racetrack, and take a place? Absolute ********!

  7. Patrickl said on 31st May 2010, 21:43

    In the post race press conference Button and Hamilton talked about the “save fuel” messages that they received.

    Hamilton:
    “They set a target for me lap time wise and I tried to stick to that. The target was definitely a bit too slow, so I was slowing down to keep that target and all of a sudden Jenson was right up my tail.”

    Button:
    “I don’t know. For about four or five laps beforehand they were saying you have to save fuel. They didn’t put a lap time on it. They just said you have got to save a bit of fuel.”

    An article in the Guardian gives an extra quote from Tim Goss (McLaren’s chief engineer):
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/may/30/lewis-hamilton-jenson-button-turkey

    Tim Goss:
    “We were running quite an aggressive fuel strategy to get good pace early in the race. We gave both drivers identical target lap times. And as you can see from the evidence Jenson managed to close on Lewis”

    The reality was that Hamilton was slowing down to achieve a “slow” laptime, while Button was not aware that he really needed to slow down.

    So there obviously is something wrong with communication there. Or someone is deaf or lying. Which also would count as communication problems I guess :)

    • Oliver said on 31st May 2010, 22:46

      Very interesting PatrickL,

      The easiest way to save fuel is to turn down the engines or run a different engine map.
      As we know, we can achieve a very slow lap time by running at a very fast pace round the circuit, and coming to a stand still at the start finish line. That wont save much fuel would it.

      Anyhow, giving both drivers identical laptimes and Jenson being able to close on Lewis, doesn’t make sense.

      I just feel someone in the team decided to just try and sneak one past Lewis hoping, since they are pals after all, he would let it go. :-)
      But when Lewis fought back, Whitmarsh had premonition of expensive silver coloured carbon fiber all over the track and made frantic calls for them to save fuel

      • Patrickl said on 1st June 2010, 20:46

        I really doubt there was foul play involved from the team.

        It could be that Button decided not to see when he was told to slow down :)

        I doubt that too though. Probably just a mistake that Button’s engineer actually didn’t give Button a time or maybe Button isn’t familiar with the car yet. I assume this laptime is displayed on the dash. Which is where Webber received his engine mapping message.

  8. jess said on 31st May 2010, 23:00

    Maybe It is cause I am American and I started watching racing in NASCAR first. I just dont get the issue here. Vettle had a shot to lead and it did not work out and he and Webber spun. Then Button has a shot at Hamilton and goes for it. Well I am glad for it. This is about the win and who wants it. That is what racing is about. If you dont want two good drivers battling then get your one and find a guy who you tell him up front “you are # 2 and that is all you are”. I think this was a case of drivers going for the win and the rest is history. I know rule one is dont wreck your team mate, but hey it happens. This is racing anc racing is about winning. I feel this is also about showing us “hey I driving too”. Vettle and Hamilton were always looked at as the favoite but Button and Webber were thought to be second fiddle, guess that did not work out to my great suprise. Let them race and enjoy the show. IMO that is how you fix F1.

  9. M0tion said on 1st June 2010, 5:39

    One thing I was wondering about was the ride height issue (Button said he was bottoming during qualifying) and whether that would have been a reason to run Button a little lighter on fuel. He definitely was using less fuel during the race and “standing off” to be most efficient.

    People should remember that the driver controls the engine settings in the car.

    But I do think they clearly told Button not to attack after the incident, but they needed the points more than the risk of them getting together and I think that is all there is to it. And I’m one who thinks Button was faster this particular weekend and he shaded Lewis despite Lewis’s natural speed (maybe Lewis was adjusting his driving style a bit there as well due to his history on this track. But like last year I am becoming more and more impressed by Button.

    • Oliver said on 1st June 2010, 7:42

      Were you watching the race weekend in chinese?
      Setting a faster lap than your team mate during the race doesn’t make you faster all weekend.
      At the time Button set his lap times, he had plenty of room ahead, Hamilton had only a small gap to Webber’s diffuser.

      • M0tion said on 1st June 2010, 11:52

        I was watching sector times all through practice and qualifying as well as the race. No doubt following Lewis was hindered but if the both unleashed I saw more pace in Button. Not saying anything relative pace than that and couldn’t point to it in other races.

  10. quick_kill said on 1st June 2010, 7:55

    just to add fire..
    early part of the race.. Was jenson not told to
    push/race vettel? NO. Seems like hamilton was left
    to fend for himself while jenson was to go on
    with his own race. Conserving & waiting to pounce,
    button cruises behind the three.. a decent gap..
    he didnt even came close to challenge vettel’s
    place on the first round of pitstop. If he were
    on the same pace as the three he couldve leap
    frog seb hence protected their position or even
    be infront..

    • Burt said on 1st June 2010, 9:56

      If you watched the race and followed live timing…

      Jensen was on the same pace as the first three.. he was saving his tyres because he knew he would not be allowed to pit before Lewis and jump him. So his only chance to get ahead was to do blinding laps while the others pitted. He set 2 fastest laps, but it still wasn’t enough.

      McLaren made a big mistake by not covering Webber’s pitstop and then Lewis lost his position to Vettel when they pitted together. Jensen got the worst end of the deal by pitting last of the top four.

      There was no way he could have leap frogged Vettel unless he pitted before him, but then he would have leap frogged Lewis too.

      • Burt said on 1st June 2010, 10:07

        Sorry – correction. Got the RBs pitstops wrong way.

        Meant to say McLaren mad a big mistake not covering Vettel’s stop allowing him to jump Lewis who stopped with Webber the following lap.

  11. LG said on 1st June 2010, 9:41

    F1 isn’t a team sport in terms of drivers, look at Schumacker, Alonso and Vettel and a long history of team mates coming together before this weekend. Priority 1 is winning, priority 2 is beating your team mate, priority 3 is making sure your team thinks you’re no1 and psych’ing out your team mate before you even take to the track, priority 4 is doing well for your team. Shame Lewis sacked his dad, the only one apart from possibly Ron Dennis that has his interest at heart, not surprising it’s a business and lots of people jobs depend on it. Hopefully he’ll put this behind him and get on with winning more races, it just part of life in F1 and good publicity. Don’t let people & outside incidents mess with your head lad.

  12. PJA said on 1st June 2010, 10:44

    What really surprised me was how subdued Hamilton was after he got out of the car even though he had got his first win of the season.

    I thought it may have been because of Button overtaking him because we heard on the team radio that Hamilton had been told to slow to preserve fuel and that both cars had been told the same thing, so to suddenly see your teammate close and overtake you would be a surprise.

    • Rob said on 1st June 2010, 11:07

      I thought that it was because he started to think that the team may have deceived him that both drivers were told to save fuel when it was only him, but Button was trying to say that it was just that he got a run at him and had to go for it. And there seems to be confusion with Hamilton talking to Webber about Vettel and Button misinterpreting that conversation.

      The way I read the podium was that Webber understandably was annoyed that his team-mate cost him a win (from his point of view at least); Button was worried that Hamilton was going to think he tried to stab him in the back (note the effort Button went to on the podium to show Hamilton how happy he was for him getting the win) and possibly that the team would give him a carpeting for pulling off a risky overtake just after the Red Bulls crashed; and Hamilton had the thought in his head that his team mate (possibly with the approval of the team) tried to take him after being told to ‘save fuel’ (regardless of whether that is code for something else), and whether he needs to watch him from now on.

      A couple of coincidences can become very significant in a sensitive or paranoid mind, as they seem to have done on this comment thread!

  13. BelBeau said on 1st June 2010, 13:08

    I think Hamilton will be the world champion this year and if he remains with at McLaren he will be champion again next year. Only another win will earn him real respect from Button and Button’s dad who is perhaps busy ‘optimising’ the team for his son.

    • mharries said on 1st June 2010, 21:48

      Unlike Anthony Hamilton (until recently), John Button is hands off his sons career – so I don’t see what your getting at.

  14. dsob said on 1st June 2010, 22:53

    Great Ceasar’s Ghost!

    Such a plethora of conspiracy theories. Such a huge load of pap. It is apparent by their remarks that most of the people commenting on Button/McLaren/Hamilton are recent fans of F1. Without a longer history following the sport, one can get some skewed notions, I suppose.

    Prisoner Monkeys wasn’t winding anyone up. Button in the early 2000′s proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could overtake with the best of them, and wring an underperforming car’s neck to get the most out of it. The last couple of years before Honda pulled out, Button was in a dog of a car that didn’t have the power to pull itself out of it’s own tracks. In 2009 with Brawn, yes Button had the fastest car on the grid. And he made the best use of it, winning all he could before the other team’s developement caught up with Brawn.

    But it is true, Hamilton has experienced prejudice and favoritism. McLaren favored him from his first race in 2007, and made all sorts of prejudiced decisions with their second driver. And make no mistake, rookie or not, Hamilton was McLaren’s #1 driver for 2007 and beyond. They(Ron Dennis) had just spent 10 years and several million pounds bringing him from karting up through the lower classes, building a driver for the McLaren F1 car, of course he was treated as #1. And that’s why Alonso tossed the toys out the pram and gladly returned to Renault for 2008.

    By the way, for those of you knocking Mansell, Mansell was spot on with his remarks. I actually READ the newspaper interview–did you???–and nowhere did he slag Hamilton. He talked about his concerns over the type of system that brought Hamilton into F1, from such a young age and didn’t allow the boy to be a boy. Even Matrin Whitmarsh recently commented that Lewis had been an “experiment” by McLaren, that Lewis’ upbringing was artificial and probably hadn’t allowed him the best chance to develope as a whole person. (Maybe that is why Lewis is upset recently? And why is no one slagging Whitmarsh for those remarks?)

    And claiming anti-Hamilton conspiracy because Hamilton is described as an aggressive driver while Button is described as smooth. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, have you not been paying attention over the last 3 years? Hamilton IS aggressive, and hard on tyres and brakes. Any intelligent person who actually has seen all the races and followed the media race results and discussion realizes that.

    Oh, yes, the big Malaysia Qualy Conspiracy. Sent Button out early but not Hamilton. Got Button pole did it? No, sure didn’t. Both Button and Hamilton out in Q1. So where is the conspiracy there? Somehow it escapes me.

    Blond-haired Button preferred over black-skinned Hamilton? Please. McLaren’s F1 effort has a different dynamic now that Ron Dennis is gone from F1. No longer is Hamilton automatically favored and coddled over the second driver. This is the first year of his F1 career that Lewis actually has to compete with his team-mate. Something which evidently is taking him a bit to get used to.

    The Hamilton FanBoys need to go lay down and give their necks a rest. Facts just don’t support your claims. As to Button passing Lewis at Turkey, well, that could have been a missed communication, or it could have been Button ignoring what he was told. I won’t speculate beyond that. Without being privy to McLaren’s radio transmissions and without actually clearly hearing the total converstion between Lewis and Jenson on the way to the podium, further speculation is useless.

    • HG said on 2nd June 2010, 0:52

      thank you dsob, you summarised my thoughts much better than i had ben struggling to. Good observations, you are spot on imho.

    • S Hughes said on 2nd June 2010, 11:14

      It is now established (see my post and link below) that the two McLaren drivers were given identical target lap times. Button is either lying about not hearing this, or there is astounding miscommunication going on in McLaren that is always favouring Button. I wonder if you would be so exasperated by the conspiracy theories if the situation had been reversed and Hamilton ignored lap time targets or lied.

      You seem fairly convinced of the “conspiracy theory” that Lewis was favoured in 2007 – or is it different when the negative connotations are re. Hamilton?

  15. Dorian said on 2nd June 2010, 1:34

    Excellent post there DSOB…..cracking!!….spot on!!!

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