Jenson Button, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

Button holds back Alonso and Vettel for Japanese Grand Prix win

2011 Japanese GP reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011
Jenson Button, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

Jenson Button won his third race of the year but it wasn’t enough to keep Sebastian Vettel from securing the drivers championship title.

Vettel came home in third place having led the opening stages of the race. He and Fernando Alonso were bearing down on Button in the closing stages but the McLaren driver held on to win.

The race began with a wheel-to-wheel exchange between Vettel and Button as the latter made a better start from second on the grid.

He attempted to draw alongside Vettel but the Red Bull driver covered the inside line and as the track narrowed Button had to abandon the move. He was instantly on the radio to protest.

The stewards duly investigated but found nothing wrong with Vettel’s driving, which had not exceeded the limits of defensive driving that have been allowed before at the start of races.

Hamilton slips back

Lewis Hamilton took advantage of his team mate’s delay to take second place. Behind them Massa, Alonso and Webber continued in the order they’d qualified.

But within nine laps Hamilton was struggling for grip. He ran wide at Spoon curve and Button was instantly through into second place. Alonso hounded the McLaren as Hamilton dived for the pits.

Vettel pitted on the following lap, sacrificing a five-second margin over Button. The McLaren driver was on on the next lap, and returned to the circuit having taken a couple of second out of Vettel’s lead.

Alonso came it at the same time and returned to the pits ahead of Hamilton. The McLaren driver was now under pressure from the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa who pitted on lap 12. Webber joined them, the trio covered by just over a second-and-a-half by lap 16.

Six laps later Massa pulled alongside Hamilton on the outside as they headed towards the chicane. Hamilton kept moving left and squeezed the Ferrari, plucking a vane off its front wing.

“I can’t see anything out of my mirrors,” admitted Hamilton afterwards. Fortunately for him the stewards chose not to hand down a penalty after investigating the contact.

Button takes the lead

Button caught Vettel briefly at the beginning of the second stint, the gap briefly stabilised, but as the stint wore on Button began to make progress again.

On lap 20 Vettel suddenly appeared in the pits again. Button reeled off a speedy in-lap, came in on the next tour, and got to turn one before the Red Bull arrived on the scene.

Despite following his team mate into the pits Webber was able to leapfrog the battling Hamilton and Massa with his stop. Massa also jumped past Hamilton after pitting on lap 23.

The order at the front was now Button, Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa and Hamilton. Race control summoned the safety car onto the track while marshals salvaged he remains of Massa’s front wing plus some other debris at the Dunlop curve from contact between Webber and Michael Schumacher.

Button toyed with Vettel at the restart, inally making a break for it just before they reached the chicane. He kept his lead and Vettel now came under pressure from Alonso.

Vettel falls to third

Vettel was struggling to make his soft tyres last – six laps after the safety car came in he was back in to switch from soft to medium tyres, his team reminding him they had to last until the end of the race.

Button and Alonso’s rubber was lasting longer, and the Ferrari driver leapfrogged Vettel at his final pit stop, pushing the Red Bull down to third.

Vettel only needed tenth place to win the championship, but he went after Alonso as if the title depended on it, drawing alongside the Ferrari at turn one on the outside when using his DRS.

As the laps ticked down and the championship conclusion came into focus, his team urged caution, particularly after an agitated encounter with a lapped car who didn’t get out of the way quickly enough for him.

Alonso took advantage of Vettel’s delay to break out of DRS range and go after Button. He took a second out of the McLaren on lap 46 to pull within four seconds of the leader. By lap 50, the gap was a little over a second-and-a-half and the next time by Alonso had it down to a second.

Now Button responded, using a little performance he had kept in reserve to edge out out a few tenths of a second over his pursuers. At the chequered flag, Button crossed the line with Alonso and Vettel within two seconds of him.

Webber crossed the line in fourth in front of Hamilton, whose race had improved in the final stint as he put passes on Massa and Nico Rosberg to make progress.

Sixth for Schumacher

Schumacher briefly led the race – the first time for him since this race five years ago – and took advantage of Massa being delayed by Rosberg to come out of the pits in front of the Ferrari.

Rosberg salvaged a point for tenth after starting 23rd, and his team mate is now just three points behind him in the championship.

Between them were Massa, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov. Perez drove a fine race despite being unwell to claim eighth place.

The Force India pair slipped out of the top ten towards the end of the race despite Sutil putting an excellent move on Kamui Kobayasho at 130R earlier on. The home driver could only manage 13th after a poor start to the race.

The sole retirement of the race was Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso, which shed a wheel following his pit stop on lap 12.

Button congratulates Vettel

Button paid tribute to the new world champion after his win, saying Vettel “totally deserved his world championship” – and adding that it made it all the sweeter to beat him on a true driver’s track like Suzuka.

Vettel did more than enough to clinch the championship and did so in emphatic fashion, putting a lock on his second title with four races to go.

But he admitted afterwards he wanted the race to keep going: “To be honest I wasn’t thinking about the championship at all.

“I lost a bit of the connection to Fernando and it was difficult to get back again. And when I saw we were closing in on Jenson I thought ‘this is going to be fun the last laps’ and I was as hungry as I ever have been. I’d love the race to continue a little it more.”

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119 comments on “Button holds back Alonso and Vettel for Japanese Grand Prix win”

  1. So glad that the “stewarts” didn’t affect the outcome. Congrats to SV, but I was happy to see Alonso peg him back to P3!

    1. I can only agree wiith that dirgegirl.

    2. I guess Alonso reminded Dr. Marko and Vettel “which way the wind blows” .

  2. Once again, Button puts in a performance that really shows why he is at McLaren.

    1. Probably meant McLarens best driver …….witout a shadow of a doubt. What a championship this could have been if he had Webber’s ride !!!

      1. If he had Webber’s ride, then he would be “Webber” since there are team orders more strongly applied in RBR and Ferrari than they are in Mclaren if any at all.

        1. Even when I agree with you on that about “team orders” at RBR, @suka, you can’t state Vettel’s SECOND championship is just because of team orders, otherwise Alonso would be the champion. The caaar is great but we have seen all year how Webber is unable to get the most of it.

          1. I nowhere “stated” nor implied “Vettel’s second championship is just because of team orders”.

  3. Button did a great race again, Schumi did well to beat Massa as it was close a the end. Hoping Lewis gets his mojo back next week – he really needs a clean race!

  4. The most disspointing part for me of the race was the start when Kobayashi lost hugely,but the whole race was good lot was happening in the mid field. The TV coverage I had was poor not sure about all but I missed Hamilton’s off track action & the contact between Webber & Schumacher. The last 10 laps were great,Massa showed great pace but he was stuck behind Schumacher for the rest of his life as although he had the opportunity to use the DRS almost every lap he was behind Schumi but couldn’t make use of it.

    Massive congratulation to Vettel for winning the WC AGAIN!

    1. The last 10 laps were great,Massa showed great pace but he was stuck behind Schumacher for the rest of his life as although he had the opportunity to use the DRS almost every lap he was behind Schumi but couldn’t make use of it.

      The BBC coverage (at least one aired in AUS) didn’t show any of the racing between Massa and Schumacher. Absolutely dreadful. All you could see was that Massa was 0.5 – 0.6 behind… What we need is an F1 channel in itself, one which shows several camera shots at the same time so we can choose what we want to see… better yet make it in 3D ;) now that would be awesome .. One day this may be possible

      1. Fuji Television are responsible for the coverage, FOM usually do the race coverage for most races, expect Monaco and Japan. Your idea has actually been tried, and it failed, as nobody cared for it and it was expensive.

      2. @Maksutov Same here,Star Sports in Asia also didn’t showed the fight but just like you looking at the numbers at the bottom of the screen I could say he had many opportunities. I think the TV coverage is done by the people in Japan other then FOM? They missed many things.

      3. Monaco and Japan are the only tracks where their own directors choose what goes on tv. The danish comentators kept apologising that the coverage wasnt as good as were used too.

        1. Interesting to hear about the use of different TV directors for this race; the coverage was far worse than what we normally get (which itself should be a lot better). There was loads and loads of action in that race that we never saw, and will likely never see.

      4. the BBC don’t don’t provide the images , they have to take the feed like everybody else

      5. I’d have liked focus on Massa vs. Schumacher as well, as he was at times within a few tenths of the German.

  5. I don’t want to put a downer on Seb because I love him and I’ve just watched the forum and I’m positively delighted for him but I thought he was a bit crazy at the start. He developed a nasty habit last year of chopping people at the start and trying to scare them out of the way (Germany for example) and I thought he had grown out of it but it wasn’t nice to see it make a comeback today. He’s been so, so close to perfection all year and fully deserves this title but that really annoyed me at the start.

    JB’s win was my favourite ever of his. He was very calm after the start and got his revenge in great style. I’ve said before that I wanted to see him win in dry conditions and showcase his speed and that’s exactly what he did. I may be a Ferrari fan and he’s a in a Mclaren but I really enjoyed watching him.

    I’m delighted for Alonso. He’s my driver of the day (JB for the weekend). The way he managed his race and set the car up was just so smart. It’s like he came out of nowhere, steadily climbed up while others made mistakes and somehow managed to push JB a bit too in that awful car.

    Lewis has made the same mistake twice now. It was almost exactly the same as the incident with Kobayashi except, fortunately, the corner was a lot slower so it didn’t end in carnage for either one of them. I gave him the benefit of the doubt with Kamui but to make the same mistake twice is careless and even though the damage was less it was for that reason that I expected a penalty. If he couldn’t see in his mirrors and this keeps happening to him you’d expect Mclaren to keep him better informed particularly when they both seemed to have a bit of a communications breakdown yesterday. Massa was doing pretty good though for a while :)

    Congrats to all three podium occupants today. JB deserved his win, Alonso deserved 2nd place and Vettel more than deserved his title. It was beautiful to watch the celebrations and he fans were still there cheering! The Japanese fans are just diamonds. I was a bit surprised to see Mark wasn’t with the Red Bull team celebrating which is bad form and bad PR.

    1. I’m with you on the start @steph , those moves always remind me of the Schumacher days when that always used to be something of a trademark of his off pole.

      Although I didn’t like it much though, the stewards were right, Button wasn’t far enough alongside and Vettel didn’t make any sudden moves, so it was fair.

    2. Apart from the thing about the Seb’s start, I don’t need to say anything else because @Steph ‘s more or less said it all for me.

    3. In both those incidents, though, Hamilton was physically ahead, and followed the racing line into the corner. (With Kobayashi he was actually returning to the racing line, but still). He didn’t swerve into them, he didn’t hound them out of it, or push them wide.

      Both Kobayashi and Massa did the same thing: they sat, dumbly, with their car sitting on the outside of Lewis, halfway behind, without actually attempting a pass, as if to say “Oooh this looks like a comfy spot, I’ll leave my front wing here and have a little nap.”

      Massa literally did nothing at all with his car. There was only one line around the chicane, which Lewis was on. He didn’t attempt to back out of the move, or undercut Lewis around the other side, he didn’t attempt to get ahead, he didn’t take to the kerb, he just sat there. I have no idea what he thought was going to happen.

      1. Actually, what Kobayashi and Massa did was very similar to what Lewis did in Monza last year: He stuck the front of his car in the racing line, ignored that there was a car already following that line, and didn’t actually attempt the pass. He seemed to think in that case that “Oh my tyre’s there, the other driver’s car will magically disappear and I’ll gain a place”. As Brundle said at the time, “half hearted” passing attempts only lead to your car getting damaged.

        1. and no, it’s nothing like what Hamilton did at Monza..at Monza, Hamilton tried to pass..both Kobayashi and Massa were trying to make the corner, and Hamilton veered into them

          1. As DC proved on the slow mo footage yesterday, Kobayashi turned into Lewis, not the other way around.

          2. he was trying to make the bloody corner, why should he go straight on because Hamilton failed to recognize that he was there?

          3. @glue

            Thank you for the swearing, very helpful.

            How exactly was he going to “make the corner” when he was halfway behind the other driver, on the outside? By driving through the car that was in front of him?

      2. they were both braking, there wasn’t much more Massa could do, except take to the grass and potentially lose control of his car..Hamilton cannot grasp the fact that there are 24 drivers, not just him on the race track

      3. @Hairs_ they were still entitled to be there even if a pass was never going to work on the outside, even if it was completely the wrong side, even if they’d have a better chance of overtaking from Switzerland they still have a right to be on that part of the track without being driven into.

        1. @steph @glue
          “they’re entitled to be there” – and the other driver is entitled to follow the racing line. He doesn’t have to say “well I’m ahead here, and I’ve got the racing line, but the other guy wants me to let him past so I suppose I should back out of it and make my car disappear, even though he doesn’t have the speed or the ability to actually pass me on merit.”

          If Massa and Kobayashi had actually attempted to make a pass, then they’ve got some support for why they need to be on that bit of track. If they’re not, then they have a decision to make: “Do I leave my car here, and risk contact, or do I back out and try somewhere else?” Lewis had the same decision to make in Monza, did neither one thing or another, and crashed out. He got a load of criticism for it, as an unnecessary and dunderheaded “almost” move that was never going to come off.

          Massa was never going to get past, and he never attempted to get past. He just parked his car in the middle of the street and got hit. Don’t want to get hit? Don’t park there. Simple.

          1. @Hairs not if another car is in that bit of tarmac. Massa couldn’t just make himself invisible or was your opinion of Turkey 2010 that it was Mark’s fault? :P It’s not about the attempt at a pass it’s about one driver not being able to drive another off the road and imo Massa just wanted to hold onto the racing line and try to muscle through but it’s not really about what Massa was going to do. Monza was different because Hamilton went in too deep, wasn’t even really alongside Massa and went in a gap which was always going to go. I didn’t think Lewis at Monza was that bad it was just one of those things that easily happen.

          2. Massa wasn’t on the racing line. He was on the outside. And I don’t see him trying to muscle through either because a) he didn’t try it, and b) he doesn’t have the muscle on other drivers to attempt it.

            In Turkey, Vettel turned in on Webber. Kobayashi turned in on Lewis. Lewis didn’t turn in on Massa, he just followed the line he was on. Massa just sat there and did nothing. Maybe working for Ferrari, he’s too used to the idea that when you want to make a pass on someone, you just sit there and wait for the other driver to move over! *ooooh burn*

          3. Massa was on the racing line, but he was a bit to he outside. Why? Well, in order to avoid colliding with Hamilton, who was veering into the racing line after he had been on the inside.

          4. @hairs By making the lead driver take a tighter and dirtier line into the corner you create an opportunity to overtake on exit, especially when you have a DRS zone on the next straight. You cant just focus on a single braking zone and say ‘they were on the outside, it was their fault they got run into’, as soon as the lead driver covers the inside you think about how to get them at the next corner instead, and they’re perfectly entitled to position their car to disrupt the driver in front.

            Oh and I still dont buy the ‘Kobayashi turned into him’ argument, from the replay I saw it looked like Hamilton already hit him when the wheel turned, so it might have just been from the contact. Even if it wasn’t, Hamilton got his just deserts for squeezing him right up againt the grass.

          5. It was a race incident, but it is ridiculous how much you are trying to blame the Hamilton opponent, just to make it look as Hamilton did nothing wrong, is as if he is at blame and you are trying to justify him.
            Massa was not “parked in the middle of the track”. Where do you get this expression from!? The left tyres of Massa’s car where almost right on the line border of the track. And “he wasn’t attempting an overtake”? This is even more beatiful that the other expression. An overtake is an elaborated moves, corner after corner some times, specially in Suzuka. He couldn’t execute the overtake on that corner, but he was attempting to leave less room to Hamilton, so he could not take the perfect race line, and as you saw after the chicane Massa was right behind Hamilton in full speed ready for the overtake which would have take place if Hamilton wasn’t going to pit.

    4. I thought he was a bit crazy at the start.

      It was a little bit too far, but i think no further action was good decision by the stewards

      JB’s win was my favourite ever of his. He was very calm after the start and got his revenge in great style. I’ve said before that I wanted to see him win in dry conditions and showcase his speed and that’s exactly what he did.

      I agree,… JB is starting to become one of my favorite drivers, not only for his smooth and consistent driving but also his attitude towards driving and personality in general and the fact that he respects other drivers as well. He has matured alot over the years. I am sure it has something to do with his lovely girlfriend. ;) She makes him a better person im sure.

      Lewis has made the same mistake twice now. It was almost exactly the same as the incident with Kobayashi except, fortunately, the corner was a lot slower so it didn’t end in carnage for either one of them. I gave him the benefit of the doubt with Kamui but to make the same mistake twice is careless and even though the damage was less it was for that reason that I expected a penalty. If he couldn’t see in his mirrors and this keeps happening to him you’d expect Mclaren to keep him better informed particularly when they both seemed to have a bit of a communications breakdown yesterday.

      Hmm, interesting point. Initially i hadn’t thought of that but it is indeed similar to the Kobayashi incident at spa. I don’t think a penalty was deserved, but if some damage was incurred as a result then maybe yes. It was very tight but looked like Lewis did left just enough room for Massa, very very tight though.. i have to see the replay again

      I was a bit surprised to see Mark wasn’t with the Red Bull team celebrating which is bad form and bad PR.

      I am sure its got something to do with the team order towards the end. Well poor Webber, im not sure if next year is going to be any easier for him.

      1. He has matured alot over the years. I am sure it has something to do with his lovely girlfriend. She makes him a better person im sure.

        I’m sure she’d make me a better person too… but have you seen her sister, Angelica… OMG… If Jessica looks kinda angelic, her sister looks the devilish version – the kinda necessary mongrel (if you can call it) that is missing from Jessica… Angelica Michibata.

    5. Totally agree Steph, Perfect result, great drive by Jenson also a great show from Alonso, shame about Webber, he claimed he would wake up for this one? Vettel did well to preserve for third and Hamilton, well he just needs a new season, management or career.

    6. @steph We’re very much on the same page as each other on Webber and the team photos. He hasn’t been at one all year that I can remember, which is just petty, mean and extremely rude to all the hundreds of people who bust their chops all year round to give him a car.

      It’s a team photo, not a “winning driver’s” photo.

    7. I hadn’t noticed Webbers absence, that’s bad! I mean, I can understand that hè doesn’t like ‘maintain position’ half way in season, but his teammate was now almost champion. So you would expect that they really want to avoid all risks. And Webber should’ve expected this as well and should’ve been there celebrating, complete with fake smile and troubled eyes. Part of your job mr Webber.

      1. I suspect if Mark had gone to the celebrations he would be criticised for trying to claim undeserved glory. While I am at it I might as well point out that Vettels move against Button at the start was exactly what he did to Webber many times last year without criticism.

        1. Not to mention the ‘hard but fair’ moves of a certain who-he-must-not-be-named and its not Schumacher

        2. No, if Webber had gone to the celebrations, it would have made him look like a good sport. Much as it does when Hamilton goes to celebrations of Button’s wins.

          Then again, Webber is not very adept, to say the least, at pretending to be happy for someone when he isn’t, so maybe it’s for the best.

          1. Webber seems unable to be happy for someone who isn’t himself. Even Lewis shows up at Button’s celebration (Canada comes to mind) when you know he’s not the happiest person in the world.

            As for being told to hold position, it was clear in the message to him that Vettel was also told to hold position with Alonso. If Webber needs to throw a pout because of that, losing sight of the larger picture, then he has deeper issues with himself.

            Kudos to Vettel for mentioning specifically thanking Mark in the drivers’ conference (the only other person he named by name was his physio).

        3. I think MW has had pretty much all year to get used to the fact that VET was going to be champ and that WEB would be left in the dust. So I don’t believe there’s any huffy-hissy fit going on. There’s most likely a very simple reason – he might have been in the dunny for all we know. He’s a big boy and has had a lot of disappointments so he’s learnt how to deal with them.

    8. If i’m right though,it was the first ‘chop’ ihe’s done all season. and that ignores all the chopping and weaving down the field, he’s not the onl one who changed direction from time to time

  6. Congratulations to Vettel for WDC. Hamilton needs to seriously think about how he wants to be remembered as a F1 driver. I’m not able to tell if it is girlfriend distracting him, poor management or some other off-track unbalance – but he is so far from his real pace. I don’t know what affects him the most, but in my honest opinion he should ditch the girlfriend, get his dad back in the garage and start focusing on his racing again. He has proven, especially in his first season, several times that he belongs to an entirely different league of racing drivers, but he is not fulfilling his potential. I know I shouldn’t be turning this thread into a debate about Hamilton, but it just saddens me to see how poorly he is driving this season (China being the only real display of his strength).

    1. but it just saddens me to see how poorly he is driving this season (China being the only real display of his strength).

      Actually I would say his drive in Germany was probably the best race of any driver this season, imo he’s only been really going off the rails for the last couple of races, before that he had speed but was making mistakes, now his speed is starting to desert him (or Button is getting faster).

      Personally I dont think his off-track life is the reason he’s falling back this year. I think with the new highly strategic formula he’s struggling to keep up in terms of brain power, natural speed isn’t the be-all and end-all any more, which coincides with Button’s rise to prominence.

      1. Maybe Lewis should change his race engineer/people responsible for his strategy…etc. Also tyres are degrading just too much and penalizing Lewis-like drivers. Lewis is an old school racer who pushes from start to finish and would shine in more relaxed rules like he did in 2007 and 2008 so tyres should not be stopping him from pushing from start to finish.

        Nowadays too much saving is going on, drivers already saving engines, transmission and now tyres. Tyre rules were rightly changed after Bridgetsone made tyres used to lasted the whole race but i think F1 has gone too far on the opposite side now.

        New F1 has become more of tyres vs tyres than driver vs driver or team vs team. From the start drivers start saving tyres. Tyres should be a factor but not this much, that the whole race is about managing tyres and who saved the tyres best get the better results.

        In the first stint Ham opened up a gap to Button like 2-3 seconds, that shows that he was pushing extremely hard but Button wasn’t as much that resulted in Ham’s tyres going off on lap 9. Drivers should be more free and should have confidence that softer option tyres will perform at their peak for like 15 laps but than should drop off very rapidly and force drivers to make a stop around lap 20. Because we don’t want Bridgestone like 1 stop races.

        I hope pirelli makes more reliable tyres with respect to degradation next year with the data and experience they gathered this year. And most races should be 2 stopper with occasional 3 stopper race. The DRS and KERS are enough to make races exiting and passing possible.

        First stint—-Softer tyres—-Peak performance for 15 laps but should last like 20-22 laps.

        Second stint—Harder tyres—-Peak Performance for 25 laps but should last 32-35 laps.

        1. Very good analysis. That might very well be the reason. However, then McLaren needs to appoint a new race engineer who is not afraid of telling Hamilton to do this or that if wants to win. He has the speed, he just needs the strategy and someone needs to tell him how to use his speed with bullcrapping him. Maybe McLaren are afraid of losing Hamilton (and thus does a lot to please him) as he has previously said he will not stay at McLaren forever if they can not provide a good enough car.

          1. *without bullcrapping* is what it was meant to say.

        2. In the first stint Ham opened up a gap to Button like 2-3 seconds, that shows that he was pushing extremely hard but Button wasn’t as much that resulted in Ham’s tyres going off on lap 9.

          Lewis had a puncture towards the end of lap 9.

          1. @vho

            Lewis had a puncture towards the end of lap 9.

            A few people brought this up (see other comments below) and it highlights the importance of not jumping to conclusions.

            Pirelli have confirmed Hamilton did not have a puncture during the race:

            Hamilton did not have a puncture at Suzuka

          2. @Keith Collentine

            A few people brought this up (see other comments below) and it highlights the importance of not jumping to conclusions.

            Pirelli have confirmed Hamilton did not have a puncture during the race:

            Hamilton did not have a puncture at Suzuka

            When the information is placed before you by reputable sources – the BBC, during the live race commentary, and Martin Whitmarsh even commented on the Daily Telegraph about the puncture, you can only work with what information is brought before you. Also in another article on ESPN F1 , McLaren MD Jonathan Neale also commented on Lewis’ puncture.

            So I don’t think at the time I was jumping to conclusions given that was the information being provided by arguably reliable sources.

            In your article about Lewis’ comment in Korea, you provided a link from an article from the BBC – in the article it didn’t mention anything about Lewis commenting about his tyres.

            You mentioned that a

            A Pirelli spokesperson confirmed to F1 Fanatic the McLaren driver did not suffer a puncture.

            , but I have yet to find any other sites (including ESPNF1) comment about Lewis NOT having a puncture. Jonathan Neales’ comment was posted on the 12 October – defended Lewis’ performance in Suzuka by saying his strategy was ruined by a puncture in his first stint.

          3. @vho See my response to your comment on that article.

          4. Nevertheless, it can be hardly called jumping to conclusions given the the MD of McLaren believed it was a puncture as at 12 October.

            Not sure about others but I do try to check all my sources of information before I start posting anything. And even if the reputable sources get it wrong, there’s little point shooting the messenger.

        3. It’s the same tires for everyone else. If the tires are better, then pretty much everyone will be pushing. I don’t see Hamilton making any major progress with that.

    2. @gustav This really gets my goat.

      I’m not able to tell if it is girlfriend distracting him, poor management or some other off-track unbalance – but he is so far from his real pace. I don’t know what affects him the most, but in my honest opinion he should ditch the girlfriend, get his dad back in the garage and start focusing on his racing again.

      What a load of claptrap. For all you know, his girlfriend is the only stabilising influence on his life, a great source of support, and is keeping him focussed on his racing every time she’s with him.

      Unless someone’s got close personal experience of a driver’s personal relationships, they’ve got no right to pass comment. That applies to lazy print journalists (and BadgerGp was guilty of it recently too) as well as forum posters.

      1. Pretty girls were the end of Tiger Woods’ dominance. But who knows, he might always have been a jerk.

        1. Wrong. Taking away the pretty girls ended his dominance!

          1. Wrong. Taking away the pretty girls ended his dominance!

            Hahahaha… so true

          2. Maybe it was getting married that did him in – not enough free access to the fillies.

      2. @Hairs

        Unless someone’s got close personal experience of a driver’s personal relationships, they’ve got no right to pass comment. That applies to lazy print journalists (and BadgerGp was guilty of it recently too) as well as forum posters.

        I assume we are talking about Hamilton. I personally don’t think his performance has anything to do with his girlfriend or family per se, but I don’t think one needs to have a personal relationship to see changes. Besides, Hamilton has shown quite a lot of his personality and attitude on track alone. I think it is perfectly appropriate, as an observer, to conclude that his performance was best during his rookie years at the time when he’s attitude was still in “learning” phase. It is very possible that the “fame” and celebrity image, has influenced him a little more than expected following his WDC victory.

        I always say that it is damaging to think too highly of oneself …

        1. What’s that got to do with his girlfriend, though? Absolutely nothing, as far as any of us know.

      3. True, she might be. I have to refer to JUGNU’s analysis of the whole situation and say it could be on-track changes instead. My original post was written asuming he has no on-track disadvantage and he needed to go back to his roots. Of course I have no right to comment on his relationship with his girlfriend, for that I apologize, but I still believe he should change his management, only backed by a lot of weird off-track incidents as well.

  7. Congratulation button, you have definitely proved many people wrong including myself with regards going to Mclaren. I can’t defend Lewis anymore, today he should have got a penalty and so should have Vettel. The fact he lied to button after the race reminded me why I don’t really like the guy, but hats off to him all the same.

    Driver of the day though was Alonso.

    1. What did he lie about?

      1. He said to Jenson after the race that he didn’t see him when he put him on the grass. The on board footage clearly shows him looking in his mirrors as he turns more and more to the right. Jenson was quite miffed about it on the BBC Forum, describing it as a “negative” for Vettel.

        Reminded me of Schumacher.

  8. FI slipped out of points this race, but have their pride at stake for the Indian GP.

    1. Can you expand on that thought? I’m a little slow.

      1. Force India. At the Indian Grand Prix. 2+2 ;)

  9. I think the rules are wrong reg the Button/Vettel start. If you get a better start from 2nd and have to lift early to avoid a slower starter from 1st who decides to cut in as the only way to stay in front, it defeats the object of calling this a sport. I hope Button returns the courtesy but knowing him he will rise above it. It made the world champion look cheap IMO.

    1. No, dishing out penalties for defending your position at the start is cheap. Vettel was harsh but fair.

  10. Jenson spoke on the track with McLaren from last year, more so in 2011. The huge criticisms of getting chewed up by Lewis is now the opposite.
    Button is now the lead driver and team leader. So much tears were shed between Jessica and himself, an uplifting spirit for the people of Japan, I bet his dad cried too despite denying it.

    Where did Alonso come from today? Was delighted with his well managed race. Fernando was close to catching Jenson but the old fox responded, two foxes kept me glued to the spilt timing for the last 5 laps, loved every bit of it.

    Vettel win in style was not achieved but Sebastian deserved the WDC without a doubt. His maturity is amazing and Sebastian is such a good bloke, his smile as ever, childlike is what I like most. Surprisingly the RB7 was chewing up more tyres than expected. Suzuka shows no mercy with an average speed way above 200 kph. Good that stewards did not penalise Vettel for the start, great to see dust getting kicked up, we had quite a few this year.

  11. Button was impeccable today, he just kept going despite the start incident and really showed why he is a team leader, as a mclaren fan (mainly hamilton) it pains me to see lewis so far down but i dont think it is as bad as it seems.

    Lewis got a puncture which sent him wide and he duly lost 6 or 7 seconds recovering back to the pits, this had a knock on effect as he then had to eek out 2 extra laps more than he would have wanted on the second set of options to offset the early stop. So all in all those events lost him around 15 seconds which would have put him in front of webber. The incident with massa was a racing incident and i think was not much different to the starting incident between vet and but.

    Im not making excuses here, hamilton has made a lot of mistakes, but i just think that its not as bad as it looks at the moment, im pretty sure he’ll have his mojo back by the end of the year.

    Great drive from alonso today too and vettel was classy as per, he really deserves the championship and just by the way he has driven this season, he deserves many more

    1. This is comment from Martin, i guess this sums Lewis’s race

      Lewis had a more difficult afternoon. We weren’t immediately aware that Lewis appeared to suffer a slow puncture to the right-rear in the first stint. That created a growing pressure differential across the rear axle, and potentially led us to add too much front wing to compensate for the lack of balance at the rear. In hindsight, that may have led to Lewis fighting to find a satisfactory balance for the next two stints as we attempted to restore the set-up he’d enjoyed during the previous two days. It was a challenging afternoon for Lewis, but he never gave up, kept pushing and scored some strong points for the team. He had the pace this weekend, so I’m sure he’ll be as tough as ever in Korea next weekend.

  12. What was the massa’s ‘thing with the rear wing’ for? That msg sounded like he needs to do something for Alonso again O_o

    1. Most likely they were referring to the removal of the Gurney flap, that has been the only adjustment you can do to the rear wing during the race in the past. Not sure with today’s DRS wings though.

  13. Little off-topic, but here are my thoughts anyway: after FP2 everybody was saying “why would Red Bull take fuel out of their car”, but clearly they were. On their long-run stints they were doing high 1m37s consistently, but I don’t think we saw any 37s until mid-distance.

    Of course, the soft tyre is typically run for the first three stints, so I guess it makes sense to try them out with a more average fuel load.

    1. @adrianmorse Not at all off-topic!

      It’s like I said in the second practice and the pre-race analysis, we don’t know what fuel loads they were running so you look at the change in lap time.

      Both Red Bulls looked good and so did Button, but Hamilton’s didn’t. And that was borne out in the race:

      As we don’t know what fuel loads the cars run, we can compare how their lap times change over a stint to get an idea of their performance over a stint. By this measure, Jenson Button seemed to do better than Hamilton. The Red Bull pair were evenly matched, but Button’s pace indicates the McLarens may be able to race with them.

      2011 Japanese GP FP2 analysis Red Bull look quick but McLaren aren’t far behind

      Friday practice indicated Red Bull have good long stint performance and tyre life. Button seemed to as well but Hamilton’s lap times dropped off quite quickly.

      2011 Japanese GP pre-race analysis: Vettel poised to clinch title with tenth win

      1. Always a good feeling when what you see from analysing the session is close to how it panned out!

  14. …within 9 laps struggling for rear grip…….
    keith, Hamilton had a puncture.
    Then he was kept out for too long, losing so much time to the drivers ahead.
    I thought usually when Button was running behind Hamilton, the usual practice was to get the Mclaren driver behind to make up ground, but I guess that only applies when it is Button.
    Hamilton is now doomed at Mclaren but only he doesn’t know it. He is better off racing at Williams.

    1. Lewis’s tyres at the beginning of the race we’re the oldest on the grid. He qualified on them from his time in Q3 which he had also used in Q2 too. Everyone else had tyres on that was used in Q3 only. Its harsh to point out that his tyres lasted less then others, as they covered more laps before the race.
      Lewis is in a rut right now, no doubt. But form is tempory whilst class is permanent.

      1. And that is why Button continues to be a class act despite being written off so many times. Once Lewis’s hero in the junior formulas, Lewis continues to heap praise on him despite being dismally underrated by many F1 fans.

    2. “Better of at Williams” let’s get a little perspective here .

  15. On Lewis Hamilton’s performance this season, personally, I’d hate to see Hamilton change his driving style as much as anyone, but I sense that he will have to add a teaspoon of Prost to his future races to ensure future titles for himself. Let’s face it, Formula 1 today isn’t the same as Formula 1 pre-2009. It’s still a test of driving brilliance, but with a wealth of rewards for mental brilliance. This is the direction the sport has had to take to ensure it’s future, and the drivers will have to follow suit.

    1. @ScuderiaVincero – Agreed. In a world where everything seems to be dumbed down more and more (I’m pretty certain I’m not getting brighter every year, not with all this red wine) it’s good to see F1 buck the trend and increasingly reward the strategic and tactical nous of the driver as well as the team. And this year it’s been a great show too.

      1. @dirgegirl Alain Prost was right to approve of the 2010 rule changes. Brilliant man, brilliant driver. :)

  16. Even though Hamilton has been in the wrong for some of their comings together I find it really hard to sympathise with Massa because he is such a Whiner. Waa Waa someone should call Massa a wambulance!

  17. Vettel’s 2nd stint jump on Jenson was marred by slower cars in front of him – possibly a RB error by pitting him and getting him out behind several slower cars – will have to look at my recording to see who it was – could’ve been Kobayashi. Hence, Jenson was able to gain over a second by the time he completed his pit stop. Nevertheless, I believe Jenson had enough pace to chase Vettel down and eventually pass.

  18. But didnt schumacher lead the race brielfy in hungary this year also?

    1. “Schumacher briefly led the race – the first time for him since this race five years ago”

    2. @ritvik-vinodkumar Not officially – you have to cross the finishing line while leading to officially lead a lap.

      See: 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix lap chart – he officially peaked at second.

  19. “Rosberg salvaged a point for tenth after starting 23rd, and his team mate is now just three points behind him in the championship.”

    Don’t you mean 1 point?

    1. @kingshark I don’t see what’s wrong with the bit you’ve quoted.

  20. I was away for the Weekend so i couldnt watch Qualifying or the Race(I just watched the re-run now).

    All I’ve got to say is Congrats Seb for becoming the Youngest ever World Champion,thoroughly deserved he’s been argubly the best driver on the grid this season & i believe a intelligent, satisfying 3rd Place drive is a way to grab your 2nd World Title.

    Furthermore,A string of Podiums is added with a Brilliant & Intelligent Victory from Jenson(his first in Fully Dry Conditions),Clearly out performed Lewis this weekend in fact this is the first time i’ve seen him do that the ENTIRE Weekend.I think everyone would agree with me that Button has been the best driver after Vettel.

    Speaking of Lewis; Well Another collision with Felipe & generally a poor drive since his Puncture.Needs to pick himself up again & return to the Driver that the majority of F1 Fanatics admire & enjoy.

    Back to the Positives,Schumi & Fernando have done they’re best with the equipment they’ve been given and its a utter shame that they dont the car capable of challenging for Victories let alone attemping to win the Title because they would have been right up there had they been in a Red Bull.

    Yes i sound like this season has officially finished but it actually is from McLaren & Ferrari’s POV.Roll on 2012 & Congratulations Sebastian Vettel on another stunning season

  21. Great win for Jenson. Finally winning a dry race for Mclaren. That should quiet any remaining doubters that say he can only win in changeable conditions.

    1. No doubt his critics will point to the fact that it will have been raining somewhere in the world and thus the Japanese race could easily be described as changeable conditions and that Button was once again lucky.

      1. I so hope this run of form continues; would be great to finally put paid to the infamous Lucky Button fallacy.

  22. Could someone post a youtube video of the last five laps…thanks

  23. it amazes me button’s form. He is like the good wine, better with time. He must be one of the happiest men in the world today, after vettel of course.
    Alonso is driving at his very best, and that makes me happy.
    Hamilton, we will have to wait a little longer to see him on the top of the rostrum. And be sure he will, soon. The mclaren is a rocket, and he is one of the best.

  24. I shouldn’t be surprised that essentially no one is commenting on the stonking race Fernando had. He drives the wheels off that Ferrari in a way only he can! I honestly was not expecting him to get a podium today. Very good job from him!

    1. A solid ride by Alonso once again with just an average ride. He sure is scoring some valuable points for Ferrari which are somewhat undeserving – they need to give him a better car.

  25. Perhaps the downside of DRS, when the hierarchy is a bit too well set as it is this year, is that when cars find themselves out of position on a track where it is difficult to pass, DRS makes it too easy for them to resume their usual place, such that DRS actually robs us of action.

    1. Disagree. At least DRS allows us to see th overtakes taking place on track. In the past a faster car would just tuck in behind until the pitstops and then use superior pace in clean air to put in a quick in lap to emerge from the pits ahead of the car that was holding him up.

  26. Jenson have suddenly picked up pace and for the last few races matching Hamilton and also beating him with some help from Hamilton’s mistakes.

    Jenson was happy all weekend and topped all sessions except qualifying which was little surprising to see Hamilton ahead of Button on the first lap of Q3. Hamilton didn’t look comfortable through out the weekend but surprisingly had great qualifying, without the last lap error he would have been on pole. But we know Hamilton has always been able to produce one great lap like in last years Japan qualifying too.

    Fact is Jenson was happy through out the weekend and was confident about race pace but Hamilton not so much and was struggling especially race pace.

    I think reason might be that for the last few months development of mp4-26 is now MORE towards Jenson’s liking that is why he is suddenly matching Hamilton’s pace and Hamilton is struggling. Maybe Mclaren think that even if they don’t have the quickest car but making it gentle on it’s tyres like the Ferrari, they still have a chance of beating RBR so if to take that route, the car should be more biased towards Jenson than Hamilton.

    Hamilton has to change his driving style little bit, be more gentle on these new Pirelli tyres at least for the first stint and i am sure he will win more races before the season end and convince Mclaren that his input is equally important and car should be developed MORE towards his liking too. I think few people at Mclaren think if not all that with these new Pirelli tyres, input of Jenson is more important and beneficial overall compare to Hamilton’s.

    Hamilton has to respond with great results off course that he too can fight till the end, preserve tyres like he did in China, Germany and also Spain fighting till the end with Vettel.

    “I think it’s me, how I dial the car in. I don’t know if I’ve dialled the car in as good as he [Button] has, maybe. Who knows? I’m clearly not driving as well as he is”

    Lewis talking to BBC.

    BTW Hamilton had slow puncture before he collided with Massa or because of the collision? Or was he carrying slow puncture from the beginning?

    1. I read in interview with Martin Whitmarsh where he talked about the changes they began making to the car when Jenson came on board. Where Lewis would simply drive the car he was given, Jenson requires a car more suited to the way he likes to drive.

      As a result they have engineered more flexibility into the car’s setup, allowing Jenson to find a balance that suits him during practice. This flexibility is also available to Lewis, so there is no preferential treatment going on. However it took time in 2010 before Jenson became happy with the car, and 2011 even more so.

      It would also appear that while providing feedback to find this balance, the engineers learn more about the way the car behaves. This I guess would naturally mean the engineers would then develop the car in Jenson’s direction.

      This doesn’t mean a problem for Lewis as his driving style is more flexible. It might also mean that Lewis would be getting a much better car to handle helping him out too.

      But unfortunately Lewis has now got to handle the psychological impact of a team mate that is influencing the car more than him, and now out performing him also.

      1. Great comment! Really incisive and thought-provoking insight into the situation. This bodes well for Button’s contribution to development over the winter toward the 2012 car. IMO, Lewis has 2 jobs ahead of him during the winter. First, he has to do significant work in the area of his mental approach. Secondly, given the situation you describe and the nature of the Pirelli tires, he is going to have to “do a Schumacher” and live at McLaren over the winter, so he can augment his ability to properly “dial in” the car by taking a postgraduate course from his engineers. Otherwise, he will not be able to exploit the enhanced flexibility of setup of the car and Button will outperform him again. Being a champion means consistently enlarging the envelope of your performance and potential.

      2. “But unfortunately Lewis has now got to handle the psychological impact of a team mate that is influencing the car more than him, and now out performing him also”

        But wasn’t Lewis in the same position when him and Alonso were in the team. Admittedly they were both in the team as new drivers, but I’m sure it was Alonso that the engineers would have listened to.

        And with regard Button it’s only since Monaco he’s really been outperforming Hamilton, so lets hold judgement and who’s the better of the two.

        1. @Clive, I’m not suggesting that one is better than the other. As you point out, since Monaco Jenson has been getting better results, and is it just a coincidence that since Monaco Lewis has been having more and more incidents.

          Also when Lewis was teamed with Alonso you will remember that towards the end of the season Alonso demanded that his setup information was hidden from Lewis, as he thought Lewis was taking advantage of his experience.

          1. @Ady, I don’t disagree with you on said points.
            With regard Lewis taking advantage of Alonso’s experience on car set up, wasn’t that the idea behind the pairing. A double world champion to mentor the Mclaren prodigy for a few years.
            I don’t think Alonso or Mclaren expected such a fast and competitive LH in the first season.

          2. @cunningplan I’m sure that was the intention at McLaren, but Alonso didn’t like that too much :)

            Maybe Lewis’ raw talent and ability to drive almost anything he’s given might be a hindrance to car development. Perhaps that was the idea behind Jenson’s original signing (use Jenson to develop a car for Lewis to win the WC).

  27. Cant say I`am over excited by a for gone conclusion, but congratulations where there due. He`s a toast to the head of materials an aero for a stunning SMA Alloy. The best place to hide wood is in the woods.

  28. How come Lewis’s puncture was not mentioned in the article? It was clear thats why he dramatically lost his pace at lap 9 plus all the places and not simply because he wore out his tyres.

    With out the puncture i am sure he would have made it to the podium.

    Just more bad luck for him.

  29. @keithcollantine don’t forget Hamilton didn’t simply ‘run out of grip’ during the 1st stint, he had a slow puncture.

  30. I have to say that was some really interesting post-race soundbytes. Between Vettel sounding frankly almost bored over the radio having won his second championship and then the dialogue between drivers in the waiting room before the podium, I was really bemused. I literally laughed out loud at Alonso’s “we better get a move on.”

    1. alonso didn’t say that. the ‘hats and watches’ guy did.

  31. Great result for the race and a great result for the championship. Button thoroughly deserved that victory, he drove very well. Vettel did a good job of making the best out of a bad situation with the tyres and Alonso similarly, getting on with it with tyres that do not suit their car.

    It was good to see Schumacher back on form. This was a real test for him, to see if he could continue recent success despite his crash in Singapore.Rosberg needs to up his game and quick.

    Great result for Perez also.

  32. Good race, another professional job from Jenson Button despite the fact that he knew Vettel was always going to get that one point he needed to become champion. As for our new double world champion he does look pretty flawless at the moment. The grands prix felt to me like it was the season finale, possibly because it was Suzuka and for years was the finale, but the next four races are all going to be face saving ‘points for the team’ affairs. As a fan, its never nice to see the championship end so early, but for that you cannot blame Vettel. The man has been by far and wide the best driver this season, despite the fact the Red Bull is such a good machine, the German has made so few mistakes and has devastated the opposition.
    If anybody is to blame, it is the likes of McLaren and especially Ferrari who have fallen far short of the bar. For all of Fernando Alonso’s skill behind the wheel, the Ferrari this year was a massive disappointment despite being so fast pre-season.
    As for Hamilton, things do not seem to be improving. The incident on Saturday involving Webber and Schumacher highlighted perfectly just how at sea the 2008 world champion is. And yet again, as everybody points fingers at Lewis and the media chews over the latest controversy, Jenson Button cruises to yet another great result. No wonder McLaren were so hasty to sign him up to such a lucrative contract!

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