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?

  1. gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:41

    I like both of them, and I hope the δ will stay the same, ie JB ending 2nd and LH lower. That will maybe teach him some humility, it can only be good for him.
    And JB truly deserves some “factual recognition”, not only words.
    I’d love to see the both of them on a podium this year. I think it only happened once (?).

  2. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:44

    Button is on a real high and the form of his life. Judging on his results in the latter part of this season, and because he has nothing to lose, I would put my money on Jenson.

    However, it’s easier to chase than to be chased so I am by no means counting Hamilton out. The next race is crucial, if Button is on top, he’ll beat Hamilton. If Hamilton is on top, well… game on!

  3. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 23rd October 2011, 19:44

    Button. I think the gap is too big and I can’t see Button making any mistakes whereas Hamilton you really can.

  4. Before I would have said Lewis without a doubt but after he last three performances I’m doubtful. I think it’ll be JB and he deserves it because his head is in the right place but I’m surprised considering the good vibe around JB and the terrible vibe around Lewis that Hamilton is only 26points behind.

    • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:27

      JB comes from quite a way back in fact. After Germany he was a whole victory behind LH and managed in 6 races to get a 26 points leads !

      I ‘d like JB to come on top this time, but I also want Hamilton to have a strong end of the championship !

  5. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:02

    There should be a poll… See where the general consensus lies!

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 24th October 2011, 0:40

      Yes, I was actually looking for it myself!

      But I do think Button will beat Hamilton this year.

      And given what we’ve seen this year and last, it will still be very close between them next year, IMO.

  6. John H (@john-h) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:54

    I think Button might be too far clear now, but I’m sure Hamilton will be 100% determined not to let this happen. It’s the most interesting battle we have left this year, well for me anyway.

    There’s something to Hamilton’s attacking style (both overtaking and the way he sets up a car with a loose end) that’s always appealed to me and was so great to watch in 2007 & 2008. Button on the other hand I have to admit I don’t get such a thrill out of and never have. For some reason he never quite replaced Damon Hill when he retired… although I tried to get behind him with the same passion, I just didn’t get that nervous feeling before a Grand Prix willing Jenson to do well at the start. I still don’t now.

    He’s a nice bloke and a great driver, but perhaps not as complex a character as say Alonso or Hamilton – these drivers just have something about them that Button doesn’t that appeals… I’m just not sure what it is!

    So in summary, I think I’m going to say it will be a tie.

    Bracing.

  7. uan (@uan) said on 23rd October 2011, 20:59

    I think Webber is a wild card that will either help or hurt Button or Lewis. He’s motivated to catch Button and even take a win. I can see one of the McLarens in front of Webber and SV, but tough to see two. Definitely India will be key to Hamilton’s chances. Either way, it’ll be good to see Hamilton’s form and head space improve. I think there’s strong change for Vettel to run the table.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 24th October 2011, 9:29

      That would be interesting if Webber’s and Red Bull’s determination to beat Button in he WDC would allow Hamilton to end up ahead at the end of the year.

      I think Red Bull would deserve that, their words about “helping Webber” strongly gave the impression they weren’t exactly helping him before, if only with choice of strategy. But I don’t think Button would lose his sight of Hamilton that easily.

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd October 2011, 21:04

    I can see Button doing it this year. To be honest, I would like him to. I think it will create a bit of drama that will make McLaren a great watch next year.

    I don’t believe one race will have fixed Hamilton’s woes. That’s not to say I expect him to do terribly but Button is very much on form at the moment.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 24th October 2011, 9:37

      I think I agree.

      There is really no reason why Button would start doing worse now he has found his way to be quick in qualifying with the McLaren, so that means every race a possible podium, and maybe even a win.

      Now Hamilton might have found his racing skill agan, that fight for the podium will heat up, and if he is really on it, I can see him win, and end up ahead of Button in most of those last few races, but not far enough ahead to make up 26 points.

      And ultimately, whatever the standings, Hamilton already knows and admitted that Button did the better job so far this year; sure he’ll want to get as close as he can, but it won’t change that.

      I think that for both, that is the more important thing now, to fight and win the WDC next year, wanting a car that can do it from the word go.

      H.amilton will know that if he can cut out the mistakes of this year, he has a good change of beating Button next year, and have a go at Vettel; Button knows that if he keeps improving like he has been, with a fast car, he can show them all.

  9. Oliver said on 23rd October 2011, 22:51

    The first thing Hamilton needs is for Mclaren not to dilute his effort. Lets be honest, Mclaren more often than not, have put Hamilton at a disadvantage relative to his team mate, be it in qualifying, race strategy or priority and car setup.
    Withmarsh will be happy to see Button as the one ahead and is Button is running directly behind Hamilton, expect Hamlton to get the strategy that ends up being the slower option.
    For sure, Brundle will always find a way to include the fact in his commentaries, if Button were to finish ahead, be it relevant or not.

    Eventually Button is Happy to beat Hamilton, while Hamilton doesn’t care about finishing position but winning championships.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:34

      Hamilton may be more bothered than you think, solely because he knows it means a lot to Jenson. Their relationship is a little frostier these days it seems.

      • Oliver said on 24th October 2011, 10:09

        Perhaps you are right, seeing that Button calls himself the team leader.
        Funny thing is Hamilton has become more docile since Button joined Mclaren, perhaps he didn’t think there was any need to have a rivalry with a fellow British driver. Unfortunately, the side of the camp doesn’t exactly see things that way and don’t hesitate to patronise.

        • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 24th October 2011, 12:50

          Button calls himself the team leader

          I don’t think JB did call himself the team leader. He said in the same breath that LH would probably say the same too.

          Mclaren more often than not, have put Hamilton at a disadvantage relative to his team mate

          On the other hand, JB’s 2 DNFs this year were due to McLaren mistakes which definitely put him at a disadvantage compared to his team mate.

          • Oliver said on 24th October 2011, 20:07

            If you do follow F1 with dedication, you would have heard Button when he said that.

          • lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 24th October 2011, 23:03

            Lewis said a couple of years ago , that he wasn’t anybody’s #2 driver. I can imagine that he still hold’s those feelings, and to be at least of all a #2 to Jenson Button is simply just laughable.

          • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 25th October 2011, 0:08

            @Oliver – I love F1, watch every quali and race (and every practice session if I can), but would not claim to be obsessed – not even with Jenson Button.

            So if you can provide the link to this interview, I’d love to see it! Ta.

  10. Mild7nick (@mild7nick) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:03

    I think too much emphasis is being put on this battle, at the end of the day neither driver has looked like even remotely challenging for the title this year so by the time 2012 comes both drivers will have forgotten this season already.

    If this was the battle for the the title maybe you could attach the appropriate significance to it but its a battle for a very, very distant 2nd place and thats not what either driver races for.

  11. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:05

    I wish I could say easy peasy lemon squeezy and go for Lewis…. but I will still say it… It is going to be Lewis

  12. ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:09

    Personally hoping Button comes out on top, mainly because I never expected it to be so. That said, I don’t want Lewis to finish too far behind Button.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:15

    The smart money is on Button. He’s been much stronger all season long, and he has the advantage by twenty-six points; with three Grands Prix Hamilton needs to out-score him by eight points per race just to reel him in. And while Hamilton might have taken pole and a podium in Korea, I still remain unconvinced that the old Lewis Hamilton is back – after all, we saw a mid-season resurgence from him when he won the German Grand Prix, but he nosedived at the next race in Hungary. I’ll believe hs confidence is back when he starts stringing results together.

  14. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:23

    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.

  15. Mach1 (@mach1) said on 23rd October 2011, 23:35

    I think the only thing that can calmly weigh up this argument without any need to dramatise things in anyway is this totally rational youtube clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uviM8Rbq9ns

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