Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button

They became team mates at McLaren last year – but their F1 careers up to that point were very different.

Both made their F1 debuts with top British teams – although Williams had gone two years without a win when Jenson Button made his debut with them in 2000.

He was something of a stop-gap appointment by the team who had just lost Alessandro Zanardi but had Juan Pablo Montoya arriving for 2001. That left Button on his way to Benetton where he had a poor second season.

Despite a better year in 2002 alongside Jarno Trulli, Button was dropped by the team. He switched to BAR, beginning a seven-year stint with the team which would change names twice.

He finished runner-up to the dominant Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in 2004. Two years later, after the team became Honda, he broke his Grand Prix duck in a wet race at the Hungaroring having started 14th.

Hamilton arrived in Formula 1 the following year – and their fortunes during that season couldn’t have been more different.

The McLaren driver had a championship-contending car at his disposal and used it to great effect. He finished his first nine races on the podium, matched world champion team mate Fernando Alonso blow for blow and came within a point and a gearbox glitch of winning the title.

Meanwhile Honda produced a disastrous car and Button usually languished at the rear of the field. The following year brought more of the same, but this time Hamilton went all the way and clinched the title in the final race of the year.

But their fortunes reversed in 2009. McLaren lost their way and only a late-season recovery allowed Hamilton to win twice.

Meanwhile Button’s uncompetitive Honda metamorphosed into the stunningly quick Brawn. He won six of the first seven races of the year, putting him so far ahead in the championship that even as other teams caught up with them Button couldn’t be surpassed.

For 2010 the pair teamed up at McLaren. Although Button was perceived by some to be joining ‘Hamilton’s team’ he won two of the first four races of the year.

Hamilton pegged him back as the season went on with three wins of his own, and ended the year ahead of Button in the championship.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2010 Jenson Button, McLaren, Interlagos, 2010
Titles 2008 2009
Second in title year/s Felipe Massa Sebastian Vettel
Teams McLaren Williams, Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn, McLaren
Notable team mates Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button Jacques Villeneuve, Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton
Starts 71 189
Wins 14 (19.72%) 9 (4.76%)
Poles 18 (25.35%) 7 (3.70%)
Modern points per start1 12.31 6.16
% car failures2 2.82 13.76
Modern points per finish3 12.67 7.15
Notes Finished on podium on debut and won his sixth race Impressed in debut season for Williams
Became champion in his second season after narrowly missing rookie title win Broke Grand Prix duck at Hungary in 2006
Formerly the youngest ever world champion Surprise championship winner in 2009 for one-hit-wonders Brawn
Bio Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Lewis Hamilton (73%)
  • Jenson Button (27%)

Total Voters: 810

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357 comments on Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button

  1. SilverArrowStefBill (@silverarrowstefbill) said on 16th January 2011, 12:26

    This is unfair. F1Fanatic matches Farina with Schumacher, two drivers from total different worlds and now Button against Hamilton? This is a shame. Because McLaren has better and more good drivers, one of them will not continue. And Button was not in the same car with Hamilton. This was the car of Kovalainen. His car was in Brawn, which has problem Schumacher because was not his car. Some people must know more things about each drivers cars.

  2. Leo-The-Red (@leo-the-red) said on 16th January 2011, 12:32

    Hamilton every day. I’m not disputing Button’s ability as a driver, that’s evident, but he’s not in the same class as Lewis.
    Now, it must be admitted that Button’s championship win was founded on the fact that he had an incredible car for the first half of the season where any others were struggling, but after that he didn’t lead a single lap of the season, surely this is proof enough that Button’s championship was merely down to the car.
    In 2010 we saw the chance to see Lewis and Jenson in equal machinery, yes Hamilton did put more work into the car but Jenson won in China and Australia so it clearly wasn’t that much of a difference, and Button did prove that he is a very good driver finishing fifth in the championship, however he was outclassed by Hamilton for the vast majority of the season. Personally I think there is no question in this vote.

  3. Dipak T said on 16th January 2011, 12:35

    Ah, Button, the nearly man for so long. Nearly as good as driver X or driver Y in car Z. Effectively in 2004, the best of the rest without that Ferrari, one place ahead of Alonso, with 6 more podiums. Six.

    Sure, hes not as good as Hamilton, But its a lot closer than people seem to be making out. I mean come on, people surely remember taht season. Or how he completely embarrased Villeneuve. Hes no louch or a poor driver. Hamilton shaves it, just.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 16th January 2011, 14:24

      The most sensible post I’ve read on this thread.

      Button’s performances in 2004 (and 2005 and 2006 to an extent) were fantastic, so all of this talk of him being an average driver is complete nonsense. That said, I still voted for Lewis, but it was a VERY close thing.

  4. jihelle (@jihelle) said on 16th January 2011, 12:35

    Hamilton is a great driver, much faster than Button, but has made through his brief career quite a big number of driving errors and sort of got lucky in 2008. I would say that in this point in time, Hamilton is a better driver but Button is a better world chammpion and this what we’re talking about. So I voted for him.

    • Samuel (@) said on 16th January 2011, 12:43

      I always believe Lewis’s ‘errors’ were magnified unnecessarily because he was in a competitive car from the get-go as a ROOKIE and/or second-year driver.
      It doesnt matter what sort of talent you are, there is a learning curve in any professional sport, and Lewis, understandably, went through some growing pains in F1.
      The only major gaffes that Lewis has made would have been Fuji and Canada 2008…pretty good for a second-year guy.
      I dont know that anyone on the current grade save for Fernando would have the intestinal fortitude to win a championship while unpopular among fans and his fellow drivers.
      One needs only to watch China 2008 to observe the pure class of Hammy.

      • Yeah Sam, and Rosberg (Britney as some call him) did the same “mistake” in Canada 08 but not pig talks of that:(

      • Oliver said on 16th January 2011, 16:56

        Canada was an unusual situation, drivers respond to red flags not red lights. I keep saying this, If Kimi didn’t inch forward at the very last moment, to get an advantage over Kubica, Hamilton would never have run into him.
        When Kimi made that small move Hamilton assumed Kimi was moving away. Same reason why Rosberg rammed Hamilton.
        Thank goodness that stupid system is done with.

  5. Biancaf1 (@) said on 16th January 2011, 12:38

    I just voted! But i would have preferred an Alonso vs Hamilton poll!hehe Jenson Button needs to sort out his quali problem to be considered a top driver. And he’s only good when the car 100% suits him. If there’s a little problem, he’s lost. That’s the difference between good or great driver, IMO.

  6. Funkyf1 said on 16th January 2011, 12:45

    @David, to class Button and Webber as average drivers shows your lack of drivers knowledge. There are different ways to drive a car, while I respect the attacking style of Hamilton, there’s no need to dimiss Jensons style. Both himself and Webber nearly completed a full GP on one set of tyres this year, that’s not average driving.

  7. matt88 (@matt88) said on 16th January 2011, 12:46

    no way, Hamilton is clearly better than Button. Hamilton was competitive in every season he took part (except 2009, due to the car), while Jenson won in a clearly superior car and managed his advantage in the second part of the season.

    • Brandz (@brandz) said on 16th January 2011, 13:05

      even in 2009 he got good results :)

    • When you say “clearly superior car”, you may want to look at the actual qualifying times from even the early part of that season. There wasn’t actually much in it compared to the Red Bull, which was also a “clearly superior car” in the second half of the season.

      When you say “managed his advantage”, well, he’s clearly was better at that than Hamilton was.

    • Dipak T said on 16th January 2011, 13:24

      A “clearly superior car” in a field which at most for 4 tenths apart in a car which was a massive compromise and with basic development as the team had no money, as opposed to a Red Bull this year which was fter half a second clear of its nearest challenger. Hmm.

      • Oliver said on 16th January 2011, 17:10

        And now they have more money, look at what they came up with. Money doesn’t necessarily equate to innovation or quality.
        That aside, Brawn actually had more money than you assume. Honda left the team with enough money to pay wage bills for a year plus some change. And Hundreds of millions had already gone into designing and building the cars before Honda pulled out.
        Don’t make it look like the car was a spur of the moment miracle.

  8. Hamilton by miles. Button’s a very good driver, no doubt, but Hamilton is just utter class.

  9. Word is that if Button gets the tyres that Pirelli are supposed to be developing for the ‘show’, Hamilton won’t see which way he went.

    I don’t rate either one as a ‘Champion of Champions’, so whichever way you vote in this one it’s not going to, or shouldn’t, make much difference to the end result.

  10. Hamilton but to be honest I think Jenson is a really good champion. This year in a car that wasn’t built for him and he didn’t even fit properly in it at the beginning he won two races with absolute class, he was magnificent at Monza and on race day he was a match for Hamilton’s pace and was incredible at Brazil to finish just behind his team mate after a dreadful qualifying. The problem with Jenson is his qualifying. In the Michelin days that used to be his strength but last year he really struggled.

    At the beginning of 09 I was really critical of Jenson. Actually, I was a really annoyed moron. I was bored of him winning and the Brawn seemed like a rocket but it probably wasn’t compared to the RB6 of last year and for the majority of 2009 Red Bull were actually the quickest. Jenson did the job and deserved his title even if it wasn’t as good as Alonso’s textbook 06 campaign. He beat Rubens when he had to even when Rubens liked the car he would still make mistakes and end up behind Jenson. Noone else did as good a job as Button that year and the next year he showed on occassion he could beat a great talent like Hamilton.

    All champions have ended up in the right car at the right time it could be argued; Hamilton won his title with 0 car failures, Schumi had dominant cars in 02 and 04, Vettel had an RB6 that was a second quicker at times in qualifying but at the end of the day they have to get the job done. There are so many variables. Heikki was usually closer to Lewis when the car was rubbish in 09 and when Lewis teamed up against Fernando the Spaniard hated the brakes and was getting used to the tyres but when Lewis tested on Michelin he didn’t like that as much but that isn’t against Lewis it just shows that things have to come to a driver if they’re to win and they have done for every champion and driver at some stage.

    Lewis could be a mega talent but he’s nowhere near the complete package Button is. Button can think and Lewis can’t. Lewis and Jenson are similar in the race but Hamilton nails qualifying. Thinking about it actually makes this more difficult than I thought. Lewis can learn and grow though and he’s already a star so I’ve voted him but if Jenson can fix his qualifying woes then he could threaten Hamilton a lot more this year.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th January 2011, 13:28

      Very well said Steph, thanks. I had many of the same thoughts. I think ideally Hamilton will learn from Button how to think a bit more and I believe we saw him noticing how important it was early in the season, losing the race against his teammate.

      Button also seemed to do better at “managing his advantage” as VXR so aptly explains in a post higher up the page. Sure Button thought he could have done that better than he did in ’09, but Hamilton seems to start overdriving under strain – he should learn to stay a bit calmer from Button.

      Still, like you, I went with Hamilton because those things can be learned to some degree, while Button’s lack of finding pace on off days seems harder to repair.

      • Oliver said on 16th January 2011, 17:32

        Utter farce you can’t learn how to think.
        Mclaren trust that Hamilton can be on the limit all the time, hence they adopt the riskier strategy for him.
        They often give Hamilton the simulator option to execute. Which is why he is hardly ever in a position to change strategy.

        • I think its very possible. Senna was the perfect example of a driver who learned how to think more and keep himself out of trouble. His earlier years in F1 were punctuated by races where he overdrove and cost himself. I do however get the feeling that Lewis is not going to change.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 19th January 2011, 10:34

            Thanks for that example. Yes, I don’t know that Hamilton will become like that, but he might get the direction.

  11. Brandz (@brandz) said on 16th January 2011, 13:04

    easily hamilton

    • I’d say “easily” Alonso compared to Massa, who, if we remember, was just as good as Hamilton in 2008.

      If it were not for Timo Glock’s last lap performance in Brazil 08, we wouldn’t even be having this comparison.

      • Samuel (@) said on 16th January 2011, 14:20

        If timo had pitted for Inters as most everyone had done at that time, he wouldnt have been in that position in the first place.
        Try to be objective and clear-headed.

        • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 16th January 2011, 14:51

          And if Honda didn’t get saved by Brawn Button wouldn’t have been champion.

          If Alonso hadn’t have got the Renault drive he wouldn’t have been champion.

          If Ayrton Senna hadn’t been born he wouldn’t have been champion.

          If, buts and maybes. Fact is he won the championship. You could argue if it wasn’t for all the penalties and the Spa incident, Hamilton would have won the title much earlier than Brazil.

        • Oliver said on 16th January 2011, 17:46

          It was Kubica who almost caused Hamilton the championship. He almost seemed to brake test Hamilton when he was unlapped himself.

  12. Biancaf1 (@) said on 16th January 2011, 13:09

    How many time Mclaren has to say they don’t built car around drivers so people can’t stop with “the car wasn’t built around button” card to justify his limitation? Last year was Alonso first yeart at Ferrari and he trashed Massa.

    • It’s the tyres, not the car.

    • judo chop said on 16th January 2011, 18:16


      Raikkonen said something similar. Basically that all this blather about drivers developing cars and designers designing cars to suit drivers is nonsense. Teams build the fastest car possible and drivers drive what they’re given.

  13. Michael Griffin said on 16th January 2011, 13:18

    I voted for Button, because I can, lol.

    Sadly Button was never going to win this. He’s hated far more than Lewis, probably for beating Vettel in 09…

    • Michael Griffin said on 16th January 2011, 13:25

      Big difference between Button’s win and every other win from the last 25 years-ish is the Brawn got hardly no development whatsoever, compared with Hamilton in 08 where every race saw new components making the car even faster.

      I think a lot of haters don’t care that he won six from the first seven in 09. That’s Schumacher-esque stuff.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th January 2011, 13:32

        I do have to admit that at the end of those seven races I was hoping there would be an end to it, yes. Nothing against Button though, and didn’t expect such a clear lack of improvement from the Brawn to bring it about – if he hadn’t won so much, Vettel would have probably breezed to a boring WCC with just as many one-man/team wins, so I guess it is good he did win them after all.

      • jimscreechy (@) said on 17th January 2011, 13:38

        Firstly your point is incorrect, Brawn had a truck load of developments like every other team all throughout the seasons. its just that quite often they didn’t do what was expected and sometime didn’t work at all. If your point is to ssay that he won it with a car that performed without development, it is still a bad one to make. Particularly given the brawn had such a superior performance advantage for the first seven races of the chapionship.

    • Biancaf1 (@) said on 16th January 2011, 13:27

      I don’t hate Jenson Button but it does irritate me when the british media wants to compare him with Lewis. Some even have the nerves to say he’s better. Can you imagine 24 drivers like Button? nursing tyres waiting for the ones ahead to pit to make flying laps in clean air? That’s all Jenson Button is good at.

      • I’m sorry, but in previous seasons, didn’t drivers do exactly the same thing?

      • Michael Griffin said on 16th January 2011, 13:55

        You say it like it’s a bad thing.

        It’s called tactical thinking, something Button excels at, and lest we forget how Hamilton used to be awesome at destroying tyres, and now he can make them last.

        Odds are that he’s learned a thing or two from Button in that department.

        • TBH, last seasons tyred didn’t really need ‘looking after’. Maybe this seasons Pirelli tyre will be more marginal. We can only hope.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th January 2011, 15:51

        Button sure isn’t as exciting as Hamilton, but he really does some great overtaking.

        Actually it’s how Button won the 2009 championship. Often Button and Vettel found themselves overtaken at the start by a KERS car. Button DID manage to overtake these while Vettel was not (until the pitstops).

        At the end of the 2009 season Button had some problems qualifying, but he managed to gain places at the races just by applying risky overtakes when needed and keeping his nose clean when that was better.

    • Yeah, imagine that. Button beating Vettel. LOL

      Hamilton won (but only just) his championship when his team mate performed even poorer than Massa did last season. Hardly what you’d call a ‘competetive’ team mate. So it was no surprise that all of the ‘best bits’ found their way onto Hamilton’s car. Which, if truth be told, was a far superior car to the Ferrari’s. Ferrari only won the constructors championship that season because they had too decent drivers in their car.

      • Oliver said on 16th January 2011, 18:38

        The best bits probably found their way to Hamilton’s car, but only by one race not more, and for the better part of the season, the cars were on par. To the best of my knowledge, no part ever gave more than a tenth of a second in performance.

        If we put Hamilton at about the same level as Alonso, then we can assume Massa is not fully at the level of Hamilton based on Massa’s results against Alonso.
        We can then deduce that if Alonso is roughly 0.3 second’s faster than Massa, Hamilton is at least 0.2 seconds faster than Massa.

        From this assumption, we can safely conclude that Mclaren didn’t have the faster car in 2008 because Hamilton never had that much of an advantage over the Ferraris. More oftten it was the Ferrari that was ahead.

        So we can thus conclude that the Ferrari was actually much faster then the Mclaren. Heikki was driving the car at its true potential, Hamilton was taking it way beyond its potential, same way Alonso did in 2007 while at Mclare, and 2010 in a Ferrari.

  14. Ads21 (@ads21) said on 16th January 2011, 13:26

    How’s the next round match ups being decided? Will there be another draw or will it be Alonso vs Schumacher and Hamilton vs Brabham etc?

  15. ukk (@ukk) said on 16th January 2011, 13:43

    When I saw the title on the home page I thought “darn, this one will be a hard one, plus it is two of my favourites head to head”.
    But then it turned one of the easiest :-)
    When I think of it it is easy – Hamilton is much more of a fighter and winner than Button.

    And it is not the stats – the lousy Hondas skew the stats and make them look worse for Button.
    It is more than that – just look at their approach to races!

    Button seems to love the underdog position – was in an impossible situation, drove well, did not win because of the inferior machinery/luck/whatever.
    This is no champion mindset.

    A stark contrast to Hamilton, who usually loses because he fights a bit too much and really hates when the car is not up to scratch (“The tyres had gone off, I’m heavy like a behemot and can’t even keep up with the f… Renault” – think it was Turkey 2009, while really pushing as much as possible).

    More Hamiltons in F1, please :-)

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