Hamilton vs Button: Who will win the battle of the McLarens?

2011 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Singapore, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Singapore, 2011

Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a five-race losing streak against team mate Jenson Button in the Korean Grand Prix.

Hamilton has never been beaten by a team mate over the course of a season, but is 26 points behind Button with three races to go.

Who will come out on top?

Lewis Hamilton: Down but not out

The reasons for Hamilton’s recent troubles have been much speculated on. Whatever the root cause, he’s had several poor results this year.

While his qualifying pace has tended to be better than Button’s, at times he’s struggled to get good life from his tyres in the races. Frustration in the races has led to costly collisions and penalties.

Hamilton went into the Korean Grand Prix weekend having been beaten by Button in the five previous races. He bounced back, becoming the first driver to beat Red Bull to pole position.

He wasn’t able to convert that into victory in the race, but was able to take his first podium finish since his German Grand Prix win.

It’s been a season of extreme highs and lows for Hamilton. He needs more of the former and less of the latter in the final three races to safeguard his record of never losing to a team mate in F1.

Jenson Button: His best season yet?

When Button arrived at McLaren in 2010, even with the number one on his car, he was widely expected to come out second best, taking on Hamilton at the team he’d made his own.

That was the case last year. But in 2011 Button has gained much credit – perhaps more than he got for winning the 2009 title – for taking on and often beating Hamilton with equal equipment.

As usual he’s excelled in wet/dry races, taking a pair of excellent wins in Canada and Hungary. But his third win in Japan was something else – proof that he could take on and beat Red Bull in dry conditions.

Had it not been for his enforced retirements at Silverstone andthe Nurburgring – neither of which were his fault – he would be even further ahead of Hamilton.

Can he hold on and become the first of Hamilton’s team mates to inflict defeat on him in F1?

Or was Hamilton’s drive in Korea the first sign of a late-season surge?

Have your say in the comments.

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129 comments on Hamilton vs Button: Who will win the battle of the McLarens?

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  1. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:07

    It’s going to be tough for Lewis to catch Jenson. But it’s still possible.
    It might depend on tyres and how they will work.
    I think on the harder tyres Hamilton can do a great stint. But the super soft/soft combination isn’t his best I think.

  2. Manuel said on 23rd October 2011, 18:11

    My money always on Lewis Hamilton . But this one is a difficult one. He will need cars between him and Button to beat him.

  3. Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:13

    but was able to take his first pole position since his German Grand Prix win.

    I think you meant “podium finish” instead of pole position there Keith.

  4. FullSpe3d (@dryyoshi) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:14

    Hockenheim was last year.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:33

      @DryYoshi Are you suggesting team orders? Or something else? If it’s team orders, I doubt that would happen.

    • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:21

      2011 has been Jenson’s best year in Formula 1. With age he seems to go faster and become more and more mature in his approach.

      Lewis is the faster of the two and he wins hands down. Lewis is a ‘special’ talent. If we (or Lewis rather…) starts to iron out his errors, he can easily beat Jenson (destroy is a harsh word). The problem is, he needs to iron out.

      This season, Jenson has been the better driver (no matter the end result), something also admitted by Lewis himself.

      So frankly the standings won’t matter. Lewis is a better driver but this season belong’s to Jenson.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 24th October 2011, 15:12

        I’m not convinced LH is the better driver. He has made a ton of mistakes this year, he also threw away 2 WDC opportunities and almost a third one, the one that he did win just barely. I think LH cracks under pressure when all the stars aren’t lined up in a row. So to me showing pace is only one ingredient. It is what you do with that pace that also matters very much. Similar to MS this year.

  5. remembering super sic 58 said on 23rd October 2011, 18:15

    i have to admit i underestimated button in the last two seasons. Eventhough without the unnecesary load nicole sure put on lewis, and counting he is in good spirits after the brake up, he’ll finish in front of button in the wdc.

  6. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:15

    Firstly,A Victory from Hamilton & a Retirement from Button in India(Vice Versa) could have a significant impact in the battle due to the Points system as of today.

    We all know Lewis is still the faster of the two in Qualifying but Jenson has stepped his game recently especially in qualifying & has more or less beaten if not pegged Lewis on Race pace.Right now & rightfully so i think he’s the current leader for McLaren.

    Hamilton’s response in Korea might be too little too late to save his ‘record’ of out-performing his team-mates but with the current Points System, the way the remaining three races are shaping up,Never say never & i can see Lewis picking up another victory(or even another pole) this season rather India next weekend,where McLaren are expected to go well on or in Abu Dhabi,a track that suits his Driving style really well & has gone well on(if you put aside his Brake Problem in 09 which lead him to retirement & him losing time behind Kubica last year).

    Tyre Wear could be vital as well & this is where Jenson comes into his own;combining his ability to preserve the Tyres,Race pace & decent qualifying performances AND his lead there’s no way you can rule him out to beat argubly his faster team-mate

    What do you think guys,I think its going to be a cracking battle.Great Topic!!!!

    • Nick F said on 23rd October 2011, 20:29

      26 points is a lot. Realistically Hamilton is looking for a Button retirement or a race where button does terribly. Barring that Hamilton has to actually win races with button coming 3rd or lower. That of course is possible, but that’s going to depend on the car Mclaren put out for the last 3 races.

      I couldn’t quite remember all the points for each position so I wrote them down to work out what Hamilton had to do. I might as well leave them in my message. If Hamilton finishes 2nd in each race, then Button has to finish 6th, 6th and 4th for Hamilton just to draw level. Other combinations are of course possible. It’s just an example.

      Race: 1st 2nd 3rd
      Points needed: 9 9 9
      (to beat button)

      position: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
      points: 25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1
      gap: 7 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 1

  7. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:21

    I wish Jenson does it. This is by far the best season he’s ever had (including 2009), and he’s delivering his best at almost every weekend. I guess last year he wasn’t able to give his all due to the designing happening with Hamilton in mind.

    I guess for Lewis it’ll be good to lose against a team mate for the first time. Maybe he’ll become stronger after this, keeping his raw speed and cutting down the amount of mistakes.

    Most of all, it’ll be extremely interesting next year.

    • sumedh said on 23rd October 2011, 18:30

      This!

      For Hamilton’s sake, I hope he loses this year. He will come out more stronger in 2012 if he loses to Jenson this year, no doubt.

      If HAM loses this year and then goes on to win multiple Championships in the future (which we all know, he is capable of), 2011 will be looked back as the year when Hamilton paid the price for over-aggressive driving and then learned how to drive smartly and not just aggressively and hence became a more complete driver.

    • timi (@timi) said on 24th October 2011, 10:34

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m one of the biggest hamilton fans there is, just short of worshipping the man, but you’re right.

      Jenson beating Hmilton this year would do wonders for Lewis. Having to work to up his game, not only to beat vettel next year, but also his team-mate. It will help him to mature, and have better, cleaner races next year. Ooooooh Im buzzing for next year now!!

      This season is just boring for me now, it’s just a string of consolation races for the top teams bar red bull. Although India should be interesting because it’s a new track!!

  8. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:31

    Over the course of the season Button has been the better driver – consistent, fast and aggressive when he needed to be.As a result I hope that Button beats Hamilton this year, but Lewis is still extremely quick and I expect at least one win from him over the next three races.

    If Button does beat Hamilton this year it’ll be fascinating to see the psychological impact if any it has on both drivers and also if it changes the dynamic between the two next season.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 24th October 2011, 10:00

      Button being beaten, considering current standings, would not be good for his psyche. The thing is, Button cannot let Lewis beat him in a year everybody says has been Lewis’ worst…

  9. Klaas (@klaas) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:33

    Who will win the battle of the McLarens? – It doesn’t really matter, Hamilton will still be considered a better driver than Button.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:12

      Hamilton’s last race showed he can beat Button – but with only three races left it may be too late, unless Button suffers another failure or crashes.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:58

      @Klaas Honestly, I don’t think one driver is necessarily better than the other. Their styles are so different.

    • David BR (@david-br) said on 24th October 2011, 14:23

      Because Hamilton bad year plus Button good year = almost equal points (I’d guess by the end of the season).

      We could discuss their different styles, strengths and weaknesses, ad infinitum, but if you think about it, it boils down to this equation. Everyone thinks Hamilton has had practically a career meltdown for a big stretch of this year, while Button has been performing at his best (in conditions that favour his style). And yet they’re virtually in the same place.

    • javlinsharp (@javlinsharp) said on 24th October 2011, 20:40

      For me, performance boils down to just one thing… points. I dont care about 1 lap pace, or quali, or racecraft. The results are the SOLE measure of quality.

      LH is having a bad year. He seems to off his mental game. It is exactly that ability to overcome and adapt that seperates the men from the Lewis’s, er, I mean boys.

  10. Hairs (@hairs) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:50

    I think Hamilton has already answered this question for us: Button has done a better job this year, no matter what the results of the last few races are. He’s been more consistent, more reliable, quick everywhere, and an opportunistic overtaker. The team have taken to him like a brother, and everything’s gone as well as it could.

    Hamilton is still the better driver, in the raw, though. As impressive as Button has been, and he’s had some storming races this year, you will never find Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel ever saying something like “This isn’t one of my best circuits”. They don’t need to make compensations like that.

    • Canuck said on 24th October 2011, 0:35

      Hami is not the better driver – I beg to differ. He can be quicker at times and very exciting to watch but is a complete boob with regard to race management. He’s often very careless and very accident prone and often a detriment or just simply a moving hazard for other drivers. Unless he can radically modify is racing management / acumen …….he will always come up short and will be a negative energy to any team. This sums up why McLarens has taking a shining to Button ……obviously the more mature and team reliable driver !!!

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 27th October 2011, 15:32

        Agreed Canuck, and if LH has his plate full again next year with JB, which to me seems a very good chance, then how long does the ‘Hamilton is the better driver’ quote that has gotten repeated time and time again this year, go on for before it just sounds silly? Especially given that JB will likely outpoint LH by this season’s end and carry that momentum into next year.

  11. lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 23rd October 2011, 18:56

    The only way that Jenson will win another WDC for himself and Mclaren, is when Woking produces a car that is far superior to the rest of the field…ie…Brawn at the start of the 2009 season. Lewis on the other hand only needs a car that can compete at the front, in order for him to win another WDC.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:19

      so how come he’s behind in the standings this year? Considering he had a car capable of competing at the front in different periods during this season, he blew it, unlike Button.

      The only way Jenson will win another WDC is for the car to be very good, and raise his qualy-speed a bit more. Then, he has everything needed to succed again (consistency, race speed, etc). On the other hand, Lewis needs less of a car compared to Button, but if he keeps those mistakes coming, it’ll be very difficult.

    • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:20

      oh ohhh… Truth has been spoken !

      Hmmm Let’s be serious ! This year’s car can’t compete at the front ? JB has proven from Hungary to Suzuka that The McLaren was on par with the RB (he’s got almost as many points, Vettel is “the new Schmi” and he is supposed to be rubbish himself).
      So why can’t LH bring home a WDC ???
      Maybe he is not 64 times better than JB after all ? But your avatar and nickname tell me you won’t admit it.

      • lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 23rd October 2011, 21:25

        I never thought or felt that Lewis was 64 times better, or far superior to Jenson, just better. Mistakes made by both the team and Hamilton, caused him possible more wins this year.

        • Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 23rd October 2011, 21:43

          Mistakes made by both the team and Hamilton, caused him possible more wins this year.

          That’s the point. Lewis has made several big mistakes this season. Button’s only retirement have been entirely the fault of the team.

          • S-D (@s-d) said on 24th October 2011, 3:20

            I wonder how long it has been since JB retired through driver error…

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th October 2011, 7:05

            Button’s worst mistake would probably have been the one that arguably cost him fictory in China and gave Hamilton the chance to get that one.

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 24th October 2011, 10:06

            I’m one of those who think that McLaren could not win the championship despite Lewis mistakes. Like you say, Jenson has been more consistent but Vettel still took that with 4 to go.

  12. Sebring Mike (@sebring-mike) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:07

    Its a big ask to claw back 26+ points in three races against a driver of Button’s calibre. Being beaten by his team mate might just be the extra spur for Hamilton to increase focus on own his prodigious talent. Either way its win win for this season and extra spice for 2012

  13. BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:07

    As ever, a driver is as good as their last race. That would mean Hamilton is back and will be beating Button again. But I do think Button has really upped his game recently and will be able to get another few good results out of it, maybe they can even get a 1-2 ahead of the Bulls on pace out of it.

    I think its going to be Button this year, but it will be close.

  14. sid_prasher (@) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:25

    While Hamilton has been a bit quicker than Jenson, Jenson has been a bit smarter in execution.
    Hamilton can still come back and finish ahead of Jenson though.

  15. Girts (@girts) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:39

    I have actually never thought of Jenson Button as a mediocre driver who was simply lucky to get a superior car in 2009 and otherwise would never have had a chance of winning the title. He had a couple of other very strong seasons already before 2009, particularly 2004. What is more, quality of a driver isn’t constant, it changes all the time and Button seems to have become a much stronger driver over the last 3 years. He is mature, self-confident and knows how to use his strengths to achieve the best possible result. I don’t believe he will ever constantly beat Hamilton in qualifying but the race performance is a different issue. So I think Button is going to finish ahead of Hamilton in the 2011 world championship standings and might win another DWC for McLaren before he retires.

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:49

      This might sound weird, but I think 2004 was Jenson’s best season yet. He performed phenomenal that year, better than either 2009 or 2011 imo.

      • UKFan (@) said on 24th October 2011, 3:41

        He was thought to drive an underdeveloped car, after the arrival of drivers such as Hamilton Alonso and Vettel I keep wondering how far teams like Bar, Honda and Toyota could have gone.

      • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 24th October 2011, 12:47

        I agree that it was a great year for him especially considering the Ferrari’s dominance, and the BAR was a pretty good car, but he wasn’t as tested by Sato as he is by Hamilton. I still think this is his best year yet.

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