Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Singapore, 2011

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

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. 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.


  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

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

          2. 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.

          3. @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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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:


    1. Yep but the vid was made BEFORE the 2011 season, now BUT has upped his game even more…

  11. Only Hamilton can beat Hamilton and this year he was not beat by Jenson Button, he was beat by himself.

    Lets face it. Button’s best ever year of driving and Hamilton’s worst, and Button is still going to lose end of year. And yes, Button has done the better job but he is still not as good as a 85% Hamilton.

  12. Button’s got this one.

    Next year should be a good battle!

  13. I certainly hope Button would win it, but I have my doubts about it, especially after seeing Hamilton’s great driving in Korea.

  14. Hamilton vs Button feels like Senna vs Prost
    Button the professor will win it this time agaist the 85% awake Hamilton.

    I still feel Hamilton needed a race ban for pushing Massa out of the circuit at the last corner on the last lap in Silverstone!

  15. I think Hamilton is an awesome racer, but his limitations out weigh Button’s

    Button would probably be about 20 more points ahead if not for the (not his fault) DNFs.

    Also consider Korea, Button was ‘seconds’ behind Lewis as they crossed the finish line (not say the distance between Massa and Alonso considering they spent the first half of the race next to each other), so if that is Button at his worst and a Lewis come back I cannot see Lewis doing it.

    1. It doesn’t matte how close behind you are, behind is still behind. Ask Alonso in 2007 or Massa in 2008. :)

      Button will have to drive his best to keep that lead. It won’t be easy. One little slip and he’s two or three places behind Hamilton, who is the faster qualify and racer – and Button’s gift at strategy won’t pay off as much as does in the early parts of the season.

      1. Behind, you mean like Lewis is behind Button?

        Hamilton is a fine racer and gets well applauded for it, but if you hadn’t noticed it pays off just as much as the ‘Button’ approach, sometimes he loses a wing part, suffers a punture, a drive through, because he chases the car in front like a rabid dog without any thought for the longterm race.

        1. Nah.. it’s just because he has personal issues in his private life. Those won’t last forever.

          I always believed that Jenson’s style is a “Vulture style,” he punishes you when you are at your weakest. A scavenger of sorts sometimes, capitalizing on the work of others and striking while you’re down. It has worked well this season though partly made easier due to Hamilton’s own deamons within himslef.

          Well, Hamilton is over his demons (he and his partner broke up) so Button’s time in the lights are over. Watch how service will resume as normal in India, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

          1. He could get back to his best for the rest of this season, but it’s not guaranteed.

            He had that awful run around Monaco and Canada, had one good performance in Germany, then didn’t recover until Korea.

  16. The gap was only 26 points at the end of the 2010 season, so if McLaren had not cooked Jensons engine for him at Monaco, and Vettel could have managed to not t-bone him while running behind him at Spa, he could well have beaten LH last year anyway.

    1. Yeah and if Hamilton wouldn’t have been hit by Webber in Singapore and Australia and his gearbox wouldn’t have failed in Hungary … In the IF game everyone’s a winner.

      1. Or lost 2nd in Barcelona, indeed. But I do agree that Hamilton himself has been the one to beat him, Button just drove on and didn’t wait for him to catch up, and I think it is unlikely he will do so this year.

  17. I’m hoping that Button retains his lead over Hamilton. Button has driven superbly and deserves all his plaudits. Hamilton hasn’t had the best year of his career naturally but I’m sure this is just a blip.

    Mainly I want Button to beat Hamilton so that in the ‘Who’s better – Alonso or Hamilton?’ argument, the Hamilton fanboys won’t be able to just say ‘2007’ as sole justification as to why they think Hamilton is better than Alonso (which I don’t believe he is – I believe Alonso is still the King). This will show that you cannot judge a driver’s ability, especially compared to another, based on one season alone. One must consider everything from a ‘holistic’ perspective.

    I personally believe that Hamilton has more natural talent than Button and a greater potential for greatness. I just want Hamilton fanboys to garner a little bit more perspective when assessing the good and bad qualities of not only Hamilton but when comparing Hamilton against other drivers. Unfortunately, I still find that Hamilton fans still show more bias than any other group of fans…..just my opinion….

  18. Hamilton challenging Button? He’s got to get past Webber and Alonso first, in points and on the track and he’s stuggled to do that for most of the year. Much as I enjoy the sizzle of a chase between teammates and the spirited discussion between all of us with too much time on their hands I think HAM has a bit of work to do to come any better than 5th in the points. Perhaps he should concentrate on just doing better than last year and aim for third. But then settling isn’t how World Champs are made.

  19. To be frank, I think it can work for Lewis if everything goes extremely lucky for him and very unlucky for Button, but I’d rather see Button keep the 2nd place, and Alonso 3rd in the WD ranking. Simply because they deserve it.

    1. But, but, but… if you have more points than the other guy, you do deserve it.

  20. If Jenson performs consistently as he has throughout the year and has no retirements then I don’t think Lewis will even come close.

    I don’t think Jenson’s and Lewis’ relationship is under strain. If they’re both mature they know that they are responsible for their own performances – and it’s not like they’ve purposely ruin each other’s race (like Alonso on Lewis and Villenueve on Jenson). Lewis knows he hasn’t had the best outcomes this year, but that’s not because of his team mate. In fact I would think Lewis would be happy to see his team mate performing well because it’s a good sign that the car can win races. The only thing he then needs to focus is his ability. If Jenson can get good performance out of his car then there is no reason why Lewis can’t think better – unless he has self doubt – which I doubt he has.

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