McLaren told Hamilton Button wouldn’t pass him during the Turkish Grand Prix

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton asked 'Is Jenson going to pass me?' and was told 'No'
Hamilton asked 'Is Jenson going to pass me?' and was told 'No'

McLaren told Lewis Hamilton that Jenson Button would not pass him during the Turkish Grand Prix.

New footage of the Turkish Grand Prix posted on the official F1 website reveals Hamilton asked the team “If I back off is Jenson going to pass me or not?”

He was told “No Lewis, no.” This audio clip is shown before the footage of Button overtaking Hamilton, suggesting the exchange took place before the pass was made.

The exchange – which was not aired during the race broadcast – is as follows:

Lewis Hamilton: Jenson’s closing in me you guys.
McLaren: Understood, Lewis.
Lewis Hamilton: If I back off is Jenson going to pass me or not?
McLaren: No Lewis, no

After the race Hamilton said he was “surprised” Button had passed him. Now we know why.

The question now is, was Button ordered to hand the place back?

The following radio exchanges from McLaren were broadcast during the race. We do not know what the time gap was between them being said to the drivers and being broadcast on television:

Lap 44: Hamilton told to “save fuel” and advised that both cars received the same instruction.
Lap 50: BBC reported that Martin Whitmarsh and Phil Prew were on the radio to both drivers.
Lap 52: Button told “We need more fuel saving. Fuel is critical. Save tyres in turn eight.”

Button passed Hamilton at the end of lap 48 and Hamilton re-passed him at the start of lap 49.

Read more: Hamilton ??surprised?? by Button?s pass (Turkish Grand Prix team-by-team)

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269 comments on “McLaren told Hamilton Button wouldn’t pass him during the Turkish Grand Prix”

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  1. There are 3 things we can take from this:
    1- After the pits, it seems no one can overtake his team mate. It happened with RBR and Mclaren even in Ferrari, only Alonso overtook Massa in China because Massa and Ferrari were took by surprise. It was a gusty move by Alonso.
    2- It will allways have orders from the teams to the drivers.
    3- The most important one is that, if fights like turkey will hapen again, we will see 1 or 2 F1 cars not finishing the race because of fuel issues.
    So one one, even Renaut engine can´t go the distance at full speed till the end of the race.
    This brings something more to the race we weren´t expecting.

    1. The fuel issue is more of a case of teams seeing where the absolute limit is in terms of fuel consumption. In future I think the teams will probably put a bit more fuel in just to be on the safe side.

    2. Teams have to use multiple parts across several races so there is always going to be the incentive to slow the cars down near the end of the race. Also there will be an incentive to run the least amount of fuel possible and fuel save near the end of the race. I think these are just inevitable consequences of the current rules in F1. If you wanted to change it then I guess you would have to mandate the amount of fuel they started the race with and allow them to run a new engine each race. That’s not going to happen though for obvious reasons.

    3. “You’re just a complete and utter idiot.”

      Totally agree! BeenDun…..what are you on mate?

  2. I am very disappointed this was the case :-(

    Although I thought at time this could not have been so amicable as was portrayed by both drivers.

    In all my comments this week, I had always advised LH to watch his back! And the voice that told him JB will not overtake him was that of Whitmarsh …… very worrying I must say. If Martin Whitmarsh continues this way, he will not stay long in that position.

    1. Martin probably thought that he had made sure to both drivers that they were to save fuel (regardless of if that meant “stay put” or save fuel). Hamilton seemingly has been a good boy about listening to the pits (not always to his advantage). I guess they need to get used to Button having more of a mind of his own.

      1. Probably get slated for saying this but…

        I think Lewis was Ron’s “special one” now he’s gone I don’t think Lewis gets the same treatment as he did when Ron was in charge.

        I personally think Whitmarsh is in favour of Jenson a bit more now, probably after his two wins (and as Whitmarsh bought him to the team) I think he’d have felt like Jenson had done him well. I don’t think it’s favouritism in the fact they’d let him win over Lewis though.

        1. Lewis and Ron definately had a special relationship – Ron did tend to favour one driver over another and even though they were both given equal treatment, it tended to alienate their team-mate.

          In light of that, and the way that Heikki felt very much a Number 2 to Lewis, I think Whitmarsh is trying to prove that McLaren isn’t all about Lewis, but he’s overcompensating a bit too much.

        2. Exactly. Whitmarsh favours Button although they give the drivers the same material and the same opportunities.

        3. Withmarsh might favour Jenson as a person or whatever… but they got the numbers and they know Lewis is the fastest of the 2 this year.
          I that’s what you will see when you look at laptimes and not just the end result!

          1. The end result is all that matters. Fastest lap times are meaningless if you can’t win.

        4. No Tommy I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Whitmarsh cried when Jenson won, man is clearly a fan. Still I think he has noticed he’s overcompensating an I don’t think he wants to loose Lewis.

          Who would?

          1. I think McLaren have been impressed with maturity of Button. Hamilton has been caught out now several times by just trusting his team instead of doing like Button and trusting his instincts with strategy, gaining them two wins, while Hamilton has been impressively busy, but with less to show in points.

            For the team it is great to have this combination of drivers, and I think this is what they sorely missed. Whitmarsh may have been so happy because it showed they do need a mix of experience and young talent.

            But they also need to change the way they deal with driver rivalry, now both can fight for a win on merit. With Kovalainen that wasn’t an issue.

  3. So much for McLarens “our drivers are free to race policy”.

    When are we going to get rid of the stupid “team orders” rule in F1 anyways. Anyone with half a brain can see it’s still happening but no-one is getting punished for it, so why have the rule?

    1. You seem to have missed the point. No team orders is exactly what did happen at McLaren.

      Team orders is what was attempted at Redbull. The driver given the order wasn’t having any of it and forced the issue.

  4. I suppose this explains Hamilton’s subdued reaction when he got out of the car after the race.

    He was told to ease up to look after the car and wanted to check Button would be doing the same thing and so that it was safe to slow a bit.

    I am sure it would be a surprise to anyone if after being told that both cars were being ordered to slow to suddenly have your teammate pass you.

    At least he didn’t mention it after the race in public and waited until he could talk privately with the team.

    Also it is a shame McLaren don’t include all their radio communications on their commentary log, as the one for Turkey doesn’t seem to have the exchange mentioned in the article or the bits broadcast to the world during the race.

    1. Yeah I was wondering what the point of that site was. I was watching it for radio traffic, but not even all the messages on TV appear on that site.

      Utterly useless unfortunately.

      And what’s the point of hiding it? Of course all the teams are listening in to their competitors radio transmissions.

      1. I had a look at those messages as well. A shame they only play to be open, not showing everything. Lewis commenting in Melbourne was also not shown, that’s a shame, because it might have been a great feature on their website.

        On the other point – the teams are not listening into their radio, as those are encrypted. The teams only have the FIA listening in on everything (FOM as well, judging from this video).

        1. The radio transmissions are no crypted when the car is on track.

  5. After witnessing Vettel/Webber, I guess Lewis thought: hang on, won’t that happen to us too if I stop pushing.

    Also explains why Button thought Lewis was meaning him when hearing “did that to me too” pre-podium – someone felt a bit guilty it seems (but not sorry, I think).

    1. I do think Button told him he was sorry for catchin Lewis suprised by it, not by doing the move as such.

      1. yes, that was what I meant, he wasn’t sorry for making a move, but for the circumstances. And Hamilton seemed relieved to know it was not staged but just a chance taken by Button, in combination with unclear communication by the team.

  6. Lewis should have never asked the question “is Jenson going to overtake me”. As that would imply team orders from the resulting “no”. I think Lewis should never assume Jenson is going to stop racing him and instead asked for information on how close Jenson was to him sector by sector/lap by lap if necessary.
    This is what Jenson did in China when Lewis was closing in on him.

    BTW, the idea that McLaren are trying to fix it so Lewis is disadvantaged is silly. The fact is one driver uses his brain a little more than the other when he goes racing. The other takes everything from the pitwall as gospel.

    1. I would rather obey team order than go against it LJ. And by “using of brain” does that mean an incapacity to think? Or just bigotry on your part?

  7. Can I remind people on this site of all the claims that racing would be better without fuel stops? Drivers are protecting tyres after 2 laps and with 25 laps to go they are on fuel saving mode. When I said pre season that I did not want to see cars running out of fuel during a race it was because I’d seen it all before. The key difference is drivers raced then and hoped they had the fuel to finish. With the info they have now even that has gone. We have had some good races so far but Turkey has been the only real race on the track without outside influence.
    Team bosses know how much fuel a car needs and if with 20 odd laps to go a driver is told to save gas he is being told don’t pass your team mate. Are we to believe car are not filled to the end with the hope of SC’s and weather to help them get there?

    1. Thats not true is it? In the refueling era, would we have had four cars racing within 3 seconds of each other flat out for 40 laps?

      Putting less fuel in is an interesting risk an further element into the equation. All in the name of performance. Whats really wrong is the quali tyre rule, it just means races follow the same pattern.

      1. Well that’s rampante’s point isn’t it? There were not going to be racing flat out for the duration. There were going to be sort of creeping around possibly waiting to see whose fuel math was fuzzy and whether the tires would truly last for 2/3rds of the race. If there were stops, we would in fact have seen the cars going full out the whole race trying to create pace, and we would have had the drama of the overlaps and the test of skill of cold tire out laps. The refueling ban is a failure.

        Lets not forget that Turkey is relatively unique in fuel consumption. Turkey and Malaysia use a lot of fuel and the cars are designed to carry only the amount of fuel needed for the highest-consumption track—minus some margin in favor of the other tracks, knowing some measures are possible at those two tracks to finish the race. Anyway, we won’t see this fuel drama at Canada.

        1. Refueling ban is not a faliure. Managing fuel and tyre ware adds a further element of skill for the drivers and another layer of intrigue for the veiwers. We wouldn’t have got close racing like we saw in Turkey during the refuling era because it would have been all about fuel strategy decided on computers in Woking and Milton Keynes.

          Drivers at the front could control a race from the front much easier during the refueling era, squables over position are ten times more tense and exciting now refulings been banned because it means something.

          Turkeys fuel isn’t unique either, Barcelona, Bahrain and as you said Malaysia all require simular loads.

          The drama of overlaps was rubbish, much better force it onto the track. An tyre skill, meh, there under blankets, it rarley comes to anything on track.

          Refueling era F1 was just a series of sprints between stops. Now F1 has become much more difficult for both driver and team, an as the teams have now cut out the endurance mentality seen in Bahrain, F1 is becoming far more exciting as the teams cut it finer an finer. Turkey was a marvelous race that we almost certainly couldn’t of seen during the refueling era.

  8. We all knew when the team said, “save fuel,” that they were really saying back off and dont pass. It took the media how many years to realize and complain about Ferrari’s Marlboro subliminal advertising.. how long is it going to take them to realize that “save fuel” is really a team order not to pass!

    You don’t calculate fuel saving into your race strategy. What if the McLarens had to fight the Red Bulls to the end with no chance to save fuel.. would they have run out of gas? Not likely.

    1. LeRoy, both cars had barely enough fuel at the end to provide a sample at the end for the FIA. All teams are trying to find the limit for fuel, McLaren have definitely found theirs.

      But yeah, in most case save fuel is usually hold position.

      1. Not anymore, with refuelling gone, the teams are cutting it so marginal it’s funny. Read James Allens section on strategy, it’s facinaiting.

  9. So McLaren did deny us a thrilling end to the grand prix with both drivers fighting tooth and nail until the flag.

    Thought so… great, just want we want to see; follow-the-leader until the chequers. Cheers guys.

    1. You would probably have to go back to the 80’s to find a case where two teammates have been allowed to fight “tooth and nail” right up to the flag.

      …and I’ve no problem with this, Formula 1 is a team sport… with teams of hundreds of players.

      1. ps. I think for the drivers within a team the fight is in Qualy mostly, and in the race up to a point, thereafter it is about bringing it home, especially if gaining positions over other teams is not a possibility.

    2. Or maybe just fighting on track to within a few yards of the finish line, continuing the fight right next to the track! :o

    3. Yeah because with a 30 to 40 second lead it makes sense for a team to risk losing a 1-2 finish just because someone wants to see some action.

      It’s a (team) sport, not a circus.

  10. Just Remember When They Say Back Off They Mean By A Few Tenths, And It Will Still Be Full Throttle On The Straights… Just Go Bit Slower Through This Corner, Brake Earlier Here Etc.

  11. The comparison some people are making here to the Red Bull incident is madness.

    Red Bull orchestrated a “change of position”, which is against the rules and, when it backfired, they showed complete favouritism to the “at fault” driver.

    McLaren just attempted to orchestrate a “hold position” and had not communicated it clearly enough to Jenson. Once Lewis immediately retook the place it was made clear what was required. No favouritism for either driver here. If it has been Jenson then Lewis, the same “hold position” would have been communicated.

    1. Completely agree.

      I just wish that people wouldn’t act so freakishly paniced over “team orders” in the sense that teams tell their drivers to back off.

      Those orders are pretty common.

      Besides, if they had told Hamilton that he could expect Button to make a pass, he would obviously have been driving more defensively.

    2. I agree with your analysis. Jenson would not have tried the move if he knew what the score was.

      Like many others I’m also very disappointed. Especially after listening to Whitmarsh gloat to the world how his drivers are free to race, after Turkey and China.

      If this is the case for the rest of the season, then my money is on Lewis. He’ll likely qualify ahead of Jenson more often, giving him track position and priority in the pitstops and will not get jumped. (even if it means keeping Jenson out a lap longer -see Turkey). Any advantage Jenson might gain from conserving his car will be negated when he’s told to hold station.

      1. Well I disagree, Jenson would have tried a moove if he thought it the least bit possible, man is a racing driver, the mistake was that the fact that he could, wasn’t communicated to Hamilton clearly enough.

        I also think McLaren is being incredbily free with it’s drivers racing each other. Jenson won’t be told to hold station because he never has been, an McLaren arn’t in that game anymore.

    3. Let’s hope that is true. Not sure if LH would have respected the “hold position” communication if he was in second and Button first.

    4. Completely disagree!!

      Mclaren “did not communicated it clearly enough to Jenson” you say. I don’t agree to this at all. This ‘miscommunication’ is just a camouflage to get their favored driver in lead of the race. How else do you explain Lewis being lied to by his own team?

      I think Mclaren are trying to help Button as much as they can covertly.

      1. Well, you are allowed your opinion, clearly.

        It is a lot easier in general to believe that people make mistakes than that there is a covert 5th column working to overthrow a racing driver.

        But, as the saying goes “just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean you are not being followed”; meaning in this context that a lack of evidence (not opinion) does not, can not, prove there is nothing going on.

      2. sumedh, i don’t know if your read my post but I thought Jenson wasn’t the problem. The miscomunication was with Lewis. Lewis wasn’t given the full infomation on Jenson, an therfore got miffed.

        Jenson got told to fuel save, but the team seems to take a slightly more hands off approach with him, an he did as much fuel saving as he thought nessaccary.

        I don’t think McLaren could really be trying to sabotage Hamilton, why would anyteam try an do that, especially as Jenson, obviously a good racing driver, clearly aint quite as good.

  12. I wish the Teams would stick to building cars and leave the racing up to the drivers.

    If Button’s catching Lewis, of course he will try and pass him. It’s his job. It’s total, absolute nonsense to go and tell Lewis “no he won’t”.

    By trying to tell the drivers how to race, clueless, self-centered team management are turning wonderful racing manoeuvres into confusing and petty situations which end up turning drivers against each other.

    1. The team doesn’t want their drivers to risk it all.

      1. Then “The team” should run a Taxi company, not an F1 squad.

        1. yes because drivers in the wall is exactly what F1 teams want to see.

          1. Well if we’re all here to please the teams, we should just randomly pic a world champion in March every year.

            It would be much safer and cheaper. Indeed, driving cars at such dangerous speeds is ludicrous, and overtaking, that’s just insane. This barbaric behaviour must be stopped at once.

          2. alright take it out of context if you want too. Lets be clear

            What do F1 teams want to see?
            :Their drivers finsih 1-2

            What do F1 teams not want to see?
            :Their drivers crash, at all.

            Problem with that?

            To get there drivers 1-2 obviosly the teams are prepared to take some big risks including all the fun stuff we like to see. But why on earth would any team want to risk it’s drivers taking each other out so they could fight over who is 1 and who is 2?

            That’s right, no reason. There here to win the races first, not entertain us, watching them all atempt to acheive the same goal against each other, is where the entertainment is. An if you don’t understand that, your probably in the wrong sport.

  13. I think that this is all a storm in a teacup personally. I do not think that there were any “team orders” other than telling both drivers to save fuel till the end. Button saw that he had a very small window in which to make a move (not dissimilar to the “Golden Lap” talked about with regard to Sebastian Vettel which I have read elsewhere), and made his move. Unfortunately for him he didn’t make it stick

  14. This adds a useful margin of information. This makes the facts even more straight forward. Hamilton asked whether Button would be following suit if he went into fuel-saving mode. Remember, he previously had been told that “both cars are the same.” I think any sensible person would want to clarify that opague statement and that’s what Hamilton did, using, as it were, his brain. The answer was affirmative.

    The fact that Button then passed him, thus supports my decision to henceforce call Jenson Button the Artful Dodger.

    The suggestion that Button was told something different is, sorry, laughable. It goes againts every shred of evidence we have. It assumes that the pits would have failed to tell Button that his fuel was also critical, which would have been no favor to him—even if you assume that the hold-station order would have come post-pass.

    The idea that the team made Jack Dawkins give way again in favor of Hamilton is totally bizarre to anyone who watched Hamilton prize his assailant’s fingers one by one from the stolen position.

    This doesnt put RBR on the same plane as VMM. The orders to Hamilton and Dawkins were made to ensure that both drivers made it to the end. If they raced each other, we assume that this would not have happened. This is precisly what made RBR’s planned change of position—to leverage one liter of fuel–so profoundly stupid. Notwithstanding that it was a plain black and white case of team orders: a violation of the Schumacher-Oesterreichring Rule.

    What all of this proves, to go off topic, is the Hamilton needs a manager. The team manages him now, which is a conflict of interest. We only need to look at the chronicles of Briatore to see that. He needs someone to be in the garage focusing on situations when the teams’ interestes are not precisely his own.

  15. I am not sure about this, but i am pretty certain that there was some radio communication on the lap back to the pits where Button actually apologized for the situation.

    Next to that it goes to show that Lewis and Mark had the same thoughts when turning the engine down: will this make the next car faster and bring my lead in danger?

    They had to tell all of them to turn it down, otherwise the teams would probalby have looked stupid with cars stranded a few hundred meters before the finsh!

  16. Even I was surprised that Button attacked Hamilton on lap 49 as on lap 44 both were instructed to back off & save fuel. Another thing watching the race again today if I remember correctly then I think on the very lap Hamilton was 1.3 second slower than Button especially Button closed him down on corner 9 so I think whether Hamilton had a very slow lap or Button just found out a bit extra.

    But I will hate if Mclaren asked Button to give that place back as I think it is injustice to him. But by the look of it I think it was more about Hamilton taking the place back from Button down to turn 1.

    1. Of course they didn’t ask Button to give the place back – did you not watch the wheel to wheel racing? Unlike the sneaky pass of Button on an unsuspecting Hamilton.

      1. Was Jenson told to not pass? We don’t know. Without knowing what information JB had at the time I don’t think you can call him sneaky. At the end of the day, Jenson is a racing driver and if there’s an opportunity to pass, he’s going to take it. Anyone would.

        1. Regardless, Jenson Button was clearly not a man handing his teamate the lead, apart from anything else they probably wouldn’t have had the time.

        2. Agree. If Hamilton was in Button’s place, there was no way he would have a go at taking the lead.

          1. he wouldn’t have a go. Typo

    2. “I think on the very lap Hamilton was 1.3 second slower than Button especially Button closed him down on corner 9 so I think whether Hamilton had a very slow lap or Button just found out a bit extra.”

      Err, you dont just find an “extra” 1.3 secs on your team mate after 49 laps of a 58 lap race!

  17. Those low fuel comments might be the new way to give team orders. Red Bull tried to use it so Vettel could take lead which failed against Webber’s defensive skills while McLaren used it to ensure Button gave back the position to Lewis who had been assured wouldn’t be passed by his teammate. Look on the podium, Button does not look happy at all because he knew he had to hand in the position to avoid a team drift.

  18. This team orders thing will be the new hot topic, not least because it’s Jean Todt who is FIA president! It’s also becuase with the fuel saving issues it kind of brings it to the fore.

    I predict his approval rating to fall in the next couple of months.

  19. cars should have enough fuel full stop. What happens when a car is 2nd and 20sec’s behind 1st place and the driver in front has a problem, he can’t chase him down because he has not got the fuel to do so? This is not racing. If one of the top drivers makes a mistake in quali and is 8th on the grid I want to see him put in 50 or so fast laps without him not having the tyres or gas to do so.

    1. But every Kg of Fuel costs a lot of time, It’s better for them to be scant of fuel, and be faster at the start of the race, when advancement through the filed is relatively easy, than be quick later, when it’s unlikely.

      I agree though in principle. But I have no Idea how that could make it desirable for the cars to have more fuel on board.

    2. It is possible for the team to take a chance on doing just that, but to do that they have 2 ways at it.
      First they can put a little bit more fuel in the car before the start, making it slower all race, or they try saving a little bit of fuel during the race to have it at the end. That looks somewhat like Ferrari wanted to do in Bahrain.
      But in both cenarios, doing this to save fuel earlier makes it harder to be close in the first place and have a chance of getting back to the front.

      Sorry i am of a different opinion here. In other sports fitness and durability is a factor as well. In football sometimes the fitter team can win, when they have something left for the last 10 minutes, beating better teams with slightly less fittnes.

      1. Not to mention boxing.

        It seems clear that in this season, the best times to overtake are a) at the start, b) via pit-stops, or d) at the end of the race, hoping for fragility or degradation in your opponents car or concentration. As overtaking in normal circumstances is difficult, in between you try to save your car/tires/fuel as much as possible so that you are ready for the next phase, or unexpected events.

        It is interesting that McLaren did not really do this: instead they (Hamilton?) felt that keeping pressure would allow them to use their “good front end” (still not sure what that means) to make a pass. … And it resulted in those 4 cars becoming rather scarce on fuel near 2/3 of the race.

  20. This is annoying….. The team told them both to slow down, Button didn’t….

    No Favourites, no conspiracy, The team, In the interest of not having the same thing happen to them that happened to Red Bull, Told both drivers to hold station.
    Button, Wanted to win, so he ignored the team and passed.

    What is wrong with this??? nothing.
    Team orders are bad as long as the drivers are punished for ignoring them, But as long as Button has the choice to pass or not, There is no reason why team orders/requests are harmful to the sport. Hamilton shouldn’t have the idea that he is safe from his team mate, That isn’t so cool, Or do we all want an F1 where team mates won’t dare fight each other? But that’s countered by Button not playing nice, just like alonso in China.

    Good on Mclaren for telling the drivers to do what is best for the team.
    Good on Button for doing what is in his interest, and attempting a pass.
    And Good on Lewis for trying to stop him.

    A great bit of racing by great drivers in a great team…

    1. Hamilton double checking with the team if Button was on the same strategy, ie. saving fuel, seems a wise precaution. Especially in light of him having just seen Webber slowing a bit only for Vettel to attempt an overtake – I think he could guess how the speed difference happened.

      During this season we have seen several times that he questioned (and rightfully, it turned out!) the team tactics – maybe he is learning from Button to not trust the team blindly, and they did sometimes give unclear information to him. So him asking the team for confirmation on Buttons fuel situation is quite normal.

      But the team did advise Hamilton, yet again, unwisely. I cannot help but feel that they really really meant for the drivers to save that fuel to get to the finish.

      If they would have said: Well, Button might have a bit more fuel left, so could close up, but don’t worry, it will work out, then Hamilton clearly would have kept his pace up a bit – we just won’t ever know if that would have meant him stopping in the last corner before the finish.

      1. Right, next time Hamilton goes on the radio to demand to know “whose idea was it” we know it won’t be a rhetorical question. And maybe Matchett will shut his trap about how a driver never ever questions a team lest the pit wall burst into tears.

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