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)

2010 Turkish Grand Prix

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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. Rubbish Dave
    4th June 2010, 15:37

    The basic point is that both McLarens were, by all accounts, very light on fuel (For example, see: and had they raced to the end neither would’ve made it.

    In that situation it makes sense the team would stop them racing. It’s not an everyday situation, and it doesn’t mean they’re not free to race usually.

  2. Similar things have been said but here’s my take on the Lewis /Jenson issue:
    Lewis was told “Save fuel” and “both cars are the same”. (He was apparently also given a lap time target.)
    He queried the instruction, “Is Jenson going to pass me or not?” His tone of voice and the emphasis on “or not” makes it clear that the question really is ” Are we playing it safe by holding station and making sure we both get to the finish or do I have worry about Jenson?”
    He was given an emphatic “No” which he took to mean they were playing safe.
    The team either mismanaged the communication so Jenson was not aware of the subtext OR Jenson did know and chose to make an opportunistic move. I prefer to believe the former.
    The passing battle was for real with (luckily for the avoidance of a war at MacLaren ) Lewis regaining the lead.
    Jenson was then told “Fuel critical” and “Save tyres” which I think may well have been a ‘hold station’ message but in any case Jenson may also have figured it would not be worth risking another go, given Lewis’s robust response to the first attempt.
    Lewis’s demeanour post race seemed to me not so much that of an angry guy but rather one who felt he had been sucker punched by someone he trusted. Witness that he asked Jenson “What was going on there?” An unecessary question unless he had believed they both were holding station.

    As for ‘no team orders’ this is a nonsense. Time after time we hear the commentators openly say that, despite the rule, orders are common place. Towards the end of a season they openly ask managers when they will make the decision to favour the guy in front in the championship. Brundle and others have often said that a team would be crazy to jeapordise the manufactures points by letting their drivers race to the end. It may not be as blatent as in the Schumacher ascendancy days but it is widely acknowledged (except in official team statements) that it still goes on.

    1. Enrique Miguel
      7th June 2010, 15:27

      For that the team could be in breach with Article 39.1 in the sporting regulations which states: ‘team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.’

  3. How sad. The best wheel-to-wheel racing only came about due to miscommunication of team orders.

    1. I think it just goes that way: even in rain-races, the interesting things happen because people are making mistakes; and then others react and become heroes, or not.

  4. It may sound crazy but what will happen if radio communication be banned

    just as they did with Moto GP, as there is no refueling the drivers only

    needs to change tyres they can decide whenever they want may be with a

    button on the steering wheel so the teams will know when is the car coming

    as there are already plenty of buttons on them.

    This way it will stop the teams to give any order to the drivers but there

    are many disadvantages of this that if the car have some damage then the

    teams won’t be able to tell the drivers & let the drivers know about the

    weather & even to save the fuels. Sometimes the back-maker will won’t know

    that the cars behind them is really lapping them instead they race with


  5. Button’s using psychology to irritate Lewis knowing he’s a hot headed young lad.
    This will then upset Lewis thinking the team is not favouring him. I’m sure Lewis would have thought this incident over and over again. Before the podium ceremony it was very obvious Button was consoling Lewis with shoulder hugs. Button mind games is working. He’s been in F1 a long time. Let’s observe what will happen in Canada.

    If not for Vettel and Webber’s grand incident and Button and Lewis brief encounter the race was really boring.

    1. If Suzuka 2005 didn’t have all that overtaking and a pass for the lead on the final lap it would have been pretty boring too.

  6. Is the blogger trying to confuse these crazy people who want to beleive whatever they want. Maybe things should be made more clearer to them on a lap by lap bases, cos they are missing to read
    A(Lap 44): Hamilton(1) received “Fuel critical message”.
    B(Lap 48): Button(1) passes Hamilton(2) while on “Save Fuel” mode
    C(Lap 49): Hamilton(1) gathers pace to retake his stolen position from Button(2)
    D(Lap 50):Then team is reported to be on radio to both drivers
    E(Lap 52): Button(2) receives the “Save fuel” message while already falling backwards.

    Couldn’t Button do anything about HAM in all those laps before lap 52 if he is so wonderful and masterful?

    1. Isn’t he saving fuel anyway?

      1. I do hope that one driver isn’t being penalised because one driver uses more fuel than the other over the coarse of a GP.

        1. You know they have the option to put different amounts of fuel in each car. Also each driver with his mechanic can choose the fuel strategy they want. They can run fast then fuel save at the end, or run the same settings on each lap. It’s just all part of the strategy.

  7. if this is not team orders i dont know what is.

  8. What are team orders?
    This isn’t one in my book.
    Team orders is when for example you let the faster driver (on that day) slow down, to let the other overtake.

    Redbull wanted vettel in first because he was faster and webber was holding him up, and that wasn’t a good thing with the Mclaren boys right behind.

    Mclaren then had a big lead and Hamilton was looking to be the fastest of the two the whole weekend.
    So to then just save fuel/car till the end is the sensible and smart thing to do!

    1. it just stinks of hypocricy, the majority of people (in this country) would be screaming “foul” if Ferrari told one of their drivers the other one wasnt going to try and pass him so he could back off.

      But this is squeaky clean Mclaren so its different

    2. “Team orders is when for example you let the faster driver (on that day) slow down, to let the other overtake.”

      Err, Isn’t this exactly what happened at McLaren??

  9. In the video it looks like Button and Hamilton didn’t make a contact in turn 1 – looks like Button steered right when Hamilton was very close to touching him.

    1. Rubbish Dave
      4th June 2010, 19:32

      The view overhead from the right clearly shows contact at the apex of turn 1 from the way Buttons car jumps. It’s less obvious from the onboard shot, but you can see it when the car moves.

  10. What I find annoying about these pseudo team orders is that we get a nice close competitive race, only to have team principals on the pit wall trying to fix the results of the race, based on what suits sponsors.

    Yet, then you get the same team principals who will claim that F1 needs to improve the show. You don’t go about improving the show by taking the top four cars and giving them different orders about fuel mix, giving two cars an advantage, and two a disadvantage.

    Surely the best way to improve the show is to let the four guys honestly race?

    1. Rubbish Dave
      4th June 2010, 19:36

      Because in McLarens case, if you’d let them race, both would’ve failed to reach it to the end, and you can’t expect the guy who’s been in front for the race to give up position in that case.

  11. Charlie holdford
    4th June 2010, 19:12

    Let’s be fair RBR messed up big time
    mcLaren and Lewis have never won this race
    would you best be remembered of winning because the better guys took each other out or fight for position
    ie be overtaken then claw it back?

  12. polishboy808
    4th June 2010, 19:26

    Aren’t team orders like that illegal? If it did happen that Button was told to give the position back to Hamilton then I believe they should be penalized!

    1. Well, I guess that after Spygate years McLaren woud be careful saying things directly like that to their drivers over radio. Liegate happened because they were too conservative in advising Hamilton to give position back to Trulli that he lost himself.

      If there had been any evidence of team orders like that to Button on radio, the stewarts would have acted, most likely.

      But if they tell Button “listen, Lewis can try to pass you again right now, if so, give each other space, but after that you both should calm down and safe fuel”, that might be code for “let Lewis past, and cruise to the finish”, but no one would be able to prove it, especially if they are rather light on fuel at the end of the race.

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    4th June 2010, 20:05

    Does anyone know if the weights of the cars at the finish of the race are available anywhere?
    Obviously the cars go to post-race scrutineering, and are measured, weighed and checked against the rules, but are the result published?
    I’d love to know th difference in weight between the top three finishers.

    Supposing Webber’s car had been too badly damaged to continue, and supposing Lewis and Jenson had taken each other out, too . . . Michael would have won.
    Lord Voldemort returns!

    1. They must have all met the 605kg limit Hounslow. I don’t really want to watch a sport on fuel efficency I would rather watch people race. You and I have watched long enough to know that. I have a 1968 Alfa 1750 that does less km between services and uses less tyres than modern F1 cars.

  14. Looks like Button is another Didier Pironi!

  15. Team orders are the boss’ orders. You belong to a team, you follow the orders. There’s nothing to whinge about. If you are the second driver you take it or you pick a new team.
    My belief is that Button was racing but he backed off otherwise Hamilton was in the wall. So it’s better to have a Button than a Webber in your team.
    Apart from that it seems to me that without team orders or team strategies Vettel or Button were to win the race simply because Hamilton and Webber did not make any savings on fuel until the pitstops.

  16. Drivers should be allowed to manage their own fuel – maybe via a readout on the dash. If they end up having to back off, or run out of fuel toward the end of the race – well, it’s their own fault. Push too hard early – pay the price later. No different to managing tyres and brakes.

    1. Wrong.
      You can FEEL how your tires and/or brakes behave over the course of race. You cannot do the same about your fuel reserve.
      Managing fuel from the pit wall is way more efficient. Racing engineer is there for a reason. That guy sits there, looks at the numbers (the ones drivers shouldn’t care about, but race instead) and tells his driver, for how many more laps can he go all out and when does he have to cool off. Simple, efficient, logical.

      1. There is no need for the driver to FEEL how much fuel is left. The info is at hand to the point they can give a lap delta time. I admit I don’t know how they get the fuel info, I assumed a sensor in the tank?

        A simple system on the dash tells the driver at his current speed and fuel level how many laps he can do (like they have in road cars – but miles not laps, obviously). At least he’ll have some idea himself how fast he can go. Remember the confusion from both Lewis and Jenson that they didn’t know how much to slow down? Conserve fuel – yeah, but how much???

        Having the race engineer manage fuel maybe more efficient, but the current system leaves the door open for covert team orders. Whitmarsh has a word in the ear of both race engineers – who then get their drivers to back off by telling them fuel is critical. The lack of fuel information is a way of controlling them, to implement team orders.

        1. Still, i’m 100% sure i’d rather see those guys race instead of running math calculations in their heads.

          Teams should have SOME impact on their drivers, that one is actually quite balanced.

          About the “Conserve fuel – yeah, but how much???”: go learn to communicate with your racing engineer is all the hint i can give you.

          1. “Still, i’m 100% sure i’d rather see those guys race..”

            Me too.. but that’s exactly what we DIDN’T get to see! We saw them hold station on instruction from the team. The only action we got was due to Jenson ‘mis-understanding’ the situation.

            The team wanted them to cruise to the line in formation for the final 18 laps. Who wants to see that?!

  17. Everyone needs to keep in mind that radio transmissions are not in real time. This is the reason why during a radio transmission you often hear that the engine is out of sync with what the driver is actually doing on track. You simply cannot rely on the timing of the radio transmissions to discern what is actually going at that exact second. It could very well have been that the transmission for Button to conserve fuel was, in actuality, communicated while both of the McLarens were on the straight, but we may never know.

    The simple fact is that both drivers were told to conserve fuel at different times, and thus the bit of a battle between Jenson and Lewis in the closing laps. Lewis clearly thought that both he and Jenson were on fuel conservation mode, as that is what his engineer told him; however, evidently Jenson was told about the critical situation after Lewis.

    My opinion is that Hamilton had pushed the car harder than Button did over the course of the race so that he could get past Vettel, and therefore after the Red Bulls tangled was told to conserve fuel. Button on the other hand hadn’t worked as hard to close the gap on the front runners, and thus would theoretically have more fuel on board for the closing laps. After the yellow flags cleared surely Button went for first, as he knew that he was in front of Webber, and most likely knew about Hamilton’s fuel issue.

    Everyone has their own opinion about these developments, but I’m convinced that Button would have won the race had he not been instructed to “conserve” fuel. That being said, Hamilton deserved that win for how hard he fought the Bulls, while Button was equally as deserving for the strategic race.

    McLaren for the win in Canada!

  18. I find it incredulous that anyone would think Button gained a psychological edge of any sort on Hamilton in Istanbul. Button’s inability to hold his line into turn one was foolish, and Hamilton’s ability to snatch the position back wasn’t so much greatness as it was opportunity given.

    The worst position in this sport is to be the 2 on a 1-2 Grand Prix. Hamilton got a huge win over Button, no doubt about it.

  19. Nice article keith. I posted this comment on the thread ‘Hamilton praises “incredible development’ hours ago, before you posted this thread. Very similar thoughts.

    My comment: “Thanks for providing the link Capefear. Didn’t know it was available on the official website.
    Lewis: If i back off, Jenson is going to pass me or not?
    Team: No Lewis. No
    Didn’t hear that on TV. Now i understood why Lewis was not in so good mood. Just seconds later Jenson tried to overtake Hamilton and was clearly not backing off/saving fuel as much as Lewis.
    I have to say i was not agreeing with people saying Mclaren is favouring Jenson but now i have some doubts.”

    So what do you think Keith? Is Mclaren starting to favour Jenson over Lewis?
    I think Mclaren should have given advantage to Lewis who was their leading driver in the race. OK Mclaren shouldn’t give advantage to any driver as they always say, but at least they should have said “No Lewis, no” after they have received confirmation from Button that he isn’t going to overtake and from now on it is going to be curse to the finish. Serious mistake by Mclaren there and thankfully they got away with it or Mclaren drivers could have done what happened with Red bull drivers seconds before.

    I would love to see Mclaren drivers fighting and overtaking again but fair and open fight. Not that one driver is told to overtake and the other to back off…etc. No wrong information. Clear message…’fight on the track for position’.

    1. To me, it looks like you’re pushing it too far. I really fail to see how is McLaren “starting to favour Jenson over Lewis”.

      It seems like it was an honest mistake, that was quickly fixed – JB backed really easy for a guy fighting for P1. Minor communication glitch, period. If you have the footage from the race, watch how Whitmarsh along entire pit wall starts talking fast right after Jenson passes, then calms when Hamilton takes back the lead. It really never, i repeat, NEVER looked like anyone at McLaren (save Button) wanted to change the driver order.

      Also, how did you come up with “one driver is told to overtake”? There’s absolutely no proof whatsoever that Button was told to overtake Hamilton, actually, quite the contrary.

  20. Hamilton asked the team
    “If I back off is Jenson going to pass me or not’”
    He was told
    “No Lewis, no.”

    Button was told to back off, but he had a plan of his own.

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