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

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  1. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 17th January 2011, 10:05

    This is a somewhat silly comparison.

    Because a lot of people will judge the fact that Hamilton came into F1 and was challenging for the title from the off, compare this to Button who was in some terrible cars over the years and his 2004 is often overlooked, who says he wouldn’t have done the same if he was given the same opportunity as Hamilton.

    Lewis won in a fast car, as did Jenson, and I value both their championship winning seasons equally.

    A lot of the times its hard to judge drivers on their whole careers, and the only time you can really judge is when they are in the same equipment.

    We saw that Hamilton just pipped Button this year. However saying all that, I will contradict myself and vote for Jenson, just because I like him more!

    p.s. Don’t shoot me Jenson haters, I know you’re out there

  2. Sasquatsch (@sasquatsch) said on 17th January 2011, 10:44

    Lewis Hamilton, because he is the faster driver (in the same car) as we saw in 2010.

    Although Button won a couple of races on strategy, Lewis is a pure racer, always on (and sometimes over) the limit.

  3. Marco said on 17th January 2011, 12:23

    I am a big fan of both drivers but once again I need to focus on the highlight reel. For Hamilton the Japanese 2007 and the British 2008 GPs were for me his most impressive. While his more illustrious compatriots were making mistakes, Lewis was the class of the field.

    For Jenson he has had some stellar drives but none lift him up in my mind to give me the feeling of ethereal qualities. There is no doubt that some of his drives for Honda through 2004 and the first half of 2009 were fantastic but as a pure talent that rises above and inspires the mind I am afraid we are lacking.

    For this reason and this reason alone, it has to be Lewis.

  4. topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 17th January 2011, 14:06

    Who would I prefer to race against in a kart and then have a few beers with? Button.

    Who will history remember as the greater driver? Hamilton.

    That said, it’s two full years since Hamilton won his title and if he doesn’t win another one soon his whinging may become irritating.

    • Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 17th January 2011, 17:03

      True, I really liked Lewis but there is something that is becoming slightly irritating about him. I’ve always been a Jenson fan, especially his style. But it’s not a who’s the nicest guy competition so just for pure pace my vote was cast firmly in Lewis’s corner.

  5. JohnGreen (@) said on 17th January 2011, 18:01


    JB like you but like Lewis just that little bit extra

  6. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th January 2011, 20:05

    (I had a little backlog here, no votes from iPhone.)

    After some deliberation, I voted for Hamilton. Although Jenson’s drives sometimes were very champion-of-champion, in the end Hamilton stands out as the best of the two.

    Maybe we’re all wrong and maybe it really comes down to the tyres for Button (and Massa and Schumacher). But for now Hamilton beats Button in the same car and that’s what made my choice definitive.

    However, Button drove fantastic:
    – in Hockeheim (2004?), one handed on the straits to get some air
    – in Brazil (2009)
    – this year in Australia
    to mention a few. So yes, it was a harder choice then at first glance.

  7. Newborn14 said on 17th January 2011, 20:36

    BUTTON…Clearly a more deserving champion worked harder for it. knows when to push and how hard to push at crucial moments including when to risk his car and when not too. Being a team player. He doesnt have just pure pace he has skill. Anyone can drive fast untill there car gives up or they over do it and crash or hit someone. Alonso can drive like this Hill could drive like this Mika could drive like this. hammy has great pace aggression fun to watch but that is all he has. Sorry hammy fans if he was so great he wouldnt have crashed into so many peeps this season and woulda won world championship cant handle pressure me thinks^^] …vettel shouldnt have won tbh was dissapointed by this. :-(

  8. The Ram (@the-ram) said on 18th January 2011, 1:53

    I will not stand back and allow a stoic driver like Jenson to win out over a true racer such as Hamilton!

  9. gak67 (@gak67) said on 18th January 2011, 3:32

    I’m gonna have my 2c worth too, and I can’t be bothered reading all of the other comments, so if this has already been said, I apologise.

    I voted for Hamilton because, to me, he is the better natural driver. He knows how to get speed out of a car, but he’s also still young and sometimes a little reckless (so therefore not wreck-less – sorry for the bad pun).

    That doesn’t mean I think Button is slow or a bad driver. Towards the end of 2009 it was only Button and Koyashi who seemed to be able to pass anybody else on the track. Commentators and fans often comment of his smoothness behind the wheel. Yes he has had some good equipment under him the last couple of years, but he has outperformed his team mate every year since 2002, except 2008 (Barrichello) and 2010 (Hamilton).

    Being a Kiwi, I am a huge McLaren fan, so I am hoping for a Hamilton title in 2011, but if he finishes second to his team mate I wont be disappointed.

  10. Damon said on 18th January 2011, 7:17

    I’m not bashing other drivers at all, If anything it’s you guys who try and bash Hamilton. Hamilton beat vettel in china when they were similar in performance in the race, that was due to his driving skills. Hamilton is easily the best overtaker in f1 even though you guys won’t admit it. He is lightning fast and probably the best defensive driver on the grid. He beat the so called greatest driver in f1 at the time fernando alonso in his first season, now I don’t know about you but I think that is astonishing. As for vettel he struggled to beat mark webber lol who could be champion in destruction derby, he had by far the best car of the year and was pretty fortunate to come away with the title. If Hamilton was in the same car he would have sewn it up much much earlier

  11. tharris19 said on 18th January 2011, 16:12

    I think we can review all the statistics and draw some conclusions but it comes down to who we like as a driver. It is easy to appreciate all the drivers exceptional drivers in this series of comparisons, but we cannot trully compare them to each other without having everyone racing in a spec car. That is the only way true driving skill and speed can be evaluated.

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