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. In my view what we’re seeing at the moment is an on-form Button which is performing better than a not-on-form Lewis.

    Since Button’s championship this has been his key strength I feel – he’s always on-form, and rarely off form. His form, that is.

    But if you pit an on-form Button against an on-form Hamilton, there is no contest for me. Hamilton wins out.

    If Lewis can keep his form up; I think we will probably still see him beating Button in the points this year.

  2. @keithcollantine, shouldn’t there be a poll to go with this debate? My money is on Jenson, this time

  3. I just stumbled upon that video:
    Either they really get on well with another, or they’re both excellent actors. I hope that whatever the order is at the end of the season, they carry on having that great relation.

  4. For this year it’ll be Button.

    Maybe Button will also outperform Hamilton next year.
    He certainly did live up to the tyre-save-expectations some people had before the start of this season. Add his drying track superiority, racecraft and confidence after thyis year …

    Hamilton will really be challenged for next year!

  5. can Lewis beat Jenson…that’s a tall order with 3 to go

    but as I like 2 say ‘if any1 can its Lewis ham(ilton)

    has Jenson had a better season…i’d say it was about even so far to tell you the truth

    sure Jensons been more consistant but he’s still some way of Lewis’s ultimate pace

    of course jensons finished all his races…but then his tam mate hasn’t run him off the track like he did to lewis in canada has he?

    and as for spa…50/50 at best…what was that car doing on his outside in a corner like that?

    so…equal amount of race finishes and JB’s 20someting points ahead…as I said, pretty even so far

    sure lewis needs to improve his game…so does every other driver…in the world!, but he’s got a lot to be proud of this year (Monaco aside)

    2 wins in difficult races
    only non Redbull pole
    beat his team mate (ortaken out by team mate in every wheel 2 wheel battle)
    that epic battlw with mark last week

    I think theres a lot of drivers out there that wish they had as good a season as he has

    the only people who are knocking lewis are the story hungry press and vettel, massa & alonso lovers…just a pitty lewis can’t see through that and stop beating him self up

    1. If Kobayashi shouldn’t have been there in Belgium, then Hamilton shouldn’t have been there in Canada. He can’t be absolved of blame for both.

      1. @david-a the difference is lewis was on a straight making a pass that would have stuck, not just my opiinion but also that of the FIA

        Kobayashi make a clumsey dash up the outside into a corner in a move that he could never have pulled off, clearly because he outbreaked him self, then turned into lewis. not just my opiinion but also that of vettel hugging david coultard expressed during qualifying 2 weeks ago

        take a look for yourself on the F1.com race review…its shocking b ut the slowmo’ version is well worth a look, especially when his nose hits the barrier

        1. Kobayashi wasn’t clumsy, he merely had the speed to get alongside Lewis. Lewis turns away from the corner and into the other car. He admitted that the incident was his fault.

          1. and coulthard says otherwise…just cos lewis accepted blame doesn’t make him guilty

            the only reference i could find on the net was this

            What I found really interesting during the pre-race show (bbc – Japan) was that David Coulthard admitted that after he saw more footage of the Hamilton/Kobayashi Spa incident, he now fully blames Kobayashi for it.
            Its very interesting that both DC and Brundle have now changed their opinions of blame for a couple of Lewis’ incidents.
            Brundle originally blamed Lewis for the maldonado clash in monaco, but just a couple a days later after watching other footage…hechanged his mind & fully blamed maldonado for turning in too early and closing the door.
            …You can read it in Brundle’s post Monaco GP blog on the beeb.

            on here –


            so get over it!

          2. This part of the discussion has nothing to do with Monaco.

            Sure, Coulthard thinks Kobayashi is to blame, but just as you say Hamilton isn’t guilty because he admitted the mistake, Kobayashi isn’t guilty just because the omniscient being David Coulthard says so.

  6. 26 points.

    If this were for the WDC people would be button has a whole race in the bank.

    I think we have forgotten how big a 26 point deficit is to make up cause of Vettel’s winning by a huge margin.

    1. India.


      down to 14points



      That’s 8 points



      SCORE!! :)

      I only wish it was this good. we’ll see.

  7. There is still 3 race too go, 26 point deficit is not impossible to make up.

    Whatever Problems Hamilton had, I hope it’s over. IMO Hamilton is McLaren’s best bet, in similar cars Button will have no chance against Vettel, not in Qualifying, not in dry races. Japan was not a proof but an one off to me, because I think Vettel was pretty far from 100% in that race, all he needed was 1 point, and there’s no point for him to do qualifying laps in the race, risking any mistake.

    1. Didn’t he risk it at the first corner. If Button had not backed off, neither would have finished. Of course Vettel would have won the title, but hardly an elegant way to finish.

      And by Vettel’s own admission he likes to get fastest lap.

      Personally I don’t care who comes out on top the argument goes like this.

      Hamilton fans believe Hamilton is better even if he finishes behind. The rest are more impartial and are prepared to use rational arguments to decide how they feel about which is the better.

      Currently Button is ahead by quite a large margin. If Hamilton claws that back then he will have deserved it. If he doesn’t there is hardly any shame in ending lower in the points than a former world champion.

      The irony is, when Hamilton is poor, he’s unlucky, when Button is on form, he’s lucky. You just can’t win with some people. I just enjoy the racing.

  8. Keith conveniently leaves out that button is competing with a Lewis Hamilton who is well off form – this is Lewis’ worst ever year in F1.

    Had Lewis not have had his issues then he would be much further ahead of jenson.

    jenson can only beat Lewis when Lewis is having problems and a loss of form.

    Keith mentions in jensons defence that had he not had his retirements etc – But keith does not extend the same curtousy to Hamilton.

    Bottomline is jenson is only looking better at the moment thanks to Lewis being on the backfoot – its like trying to beat an opponent who has both hands tied behind his back.

    Keith also unfairly leaves out the emmence and unprecidented spotlight and OTT critisisms Lewis is under week after week for the whole season.
    -No other gets treated as nasty and if they did they would all buckle.

    In Korea, despite all that horrendous pressure & spotlight – Lewis absolutely redeemed himself and the media shouldve got off his back – BUT no….they decide to fabricate and make up more rubbish..this time about his personal relationship.
    -HOw sick for the media to try and stir things up more….especially after a redeeming performance – definately a campaign against Lewis.

    -This will also be a factor as to why Lewis is not allowed to pick himself up as the media are acting like vultures with him – He had a great comeback drive in Korea…which also confirmed how ordinary jenson is in comparisson.

    When Lewis is ‘on it’ he makes jenson’s drives look as dull as dishwater.

    Keith it all seems a little ‘one-sided’ of you to not be able to mention Lewis’ issues – And now the picture is being distorted to make it look as if Lewis is down because hes being beaten – which is far from the truth as Lewis was having his problems when he was ahead of jenson in the championship.

    Also its being made out that jenson has been out performing Lewis all season – What a load of tripe!

    The media (brit) are definately pro-button and anti-Hamilton.

    Queue Keith with his scathing response to deny…pity Keith cant be the one to stand up from the media vultures & show some support to Lewis.

    1. Keith conveniently leaves out that button is competing with a Lewis Hamilton who is well off form

      The very first line on Hamilton refers to his “recent troubles” – I couldn’t have made it any more obvious.

      Keith mentions in jensons defence that had he not had his retirements etc – But keith does not extend the same curtousy to Hamilton.

      Because Button has had two technical failures leading to retirements and Hamilton has had none.

    2. @SupaSix-1 – An astonishing diatribe, congrats. You make a Moebius strip look multi-faceted.

      1. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again…

        canada…lewis taken out by team mate (yes the magnificent button) – FIA stewards inquiery said lewis was faster off corner, got in the slipstream and quite legitimatley went up the outside where button admitted he didn’ see him and took him out

        spa…Lewis was taken out by kobayashi – david coulthards opinion after watching footage the rest of us have been denied

        it is strange therefore this is not mentioned in the article like buttons retierments as neither was their own fault

        that said I think @supasix-1 is guilty of an unjustified attack on keith, better to argue your point politely

        however there’s been nothing worst with Lewis’s driving this season than any1 elses and he is unquestionably getting unjustifiably attacked and miss-represented by the media who instead of sticking their head above the parapit often just write what they think people want to hear to save them selves being labled crazy or bias

        Lewis has however made more mistakes than button this season but they have occurred In qualifying and race stratagy decisions (which to be honest Mclaren as a team have been shockingly bad at) and it is here where he reaaly needs to pick his game up if he wants that second title

        Jenson on the other hand has again shown he is a master of stratagey but, as laid bare in the last 2 races, ultimatley lacks pace because of silly driving errors. in japan we saw comparrisons of jenson and vettels laps where jenson was on pole until he took a wider line out of th last corner and handed it to vettel by 0.009s and in korea he was second on the grid until again in the last corner he lost out to vettel…why has this man NEVER BEEN ON POLE FOR MCLAREN?

        its no wonder martin says he has the 2 best driver on the grid…he does, but they still have a lot to learn from each other

        I think what keiths article should point out is that out of the top 3 teams…

        webbers 140 point behind vettel

        massas is 111 points behind his team mate

        lewis 26 points behind his team mate

        i’m sure that speaks for its self, and would have made for a better article, still…

        saying that though, I guess the fact that there is an article about who’s better between lewis and jenson in its self proves just how close in skill the 2 are, we just have to accept these skills lay in different discaplines

        1. oo…I just remembered why jenson lost out to vettel in korea…

          he forgot to change up and hit the rev limiter…

          so, who’s better…?

          jenson who forgets to change gear but treats his tyres well


          Lewis who appears to be the only person other than vettel who can take pole (that is as long as he actualy remembers hes got to go out on track of course)

          1. Doesn’t matter where you start.. it’s where you finish that counts.

          2. @vho Obviously the former plays a significant role in determining the latter.

            Would Vettel have won ten races this year if he’d started from 24th place every time?

          3. Perhaps I should clarify my comment that it relates to the points table on the WDC and WCC.

  9. Lewis should have put the same presure he put on Alonso while in macleren. Maybe by now this question of who is a better driver should not have arise. He made Janson feel so so much at home that he (Janson ) has taken advantage of that. The moment Ham sees Janson as as dangerouse treath to his position in macleren the better for him.

    1. Man, that’s a team player for you !

    2. not at all, they need each other as they provide a bench mark for their own performances, which with the different equipment used by teams can be something very difficult to come by in f1

      the reason their faults is so often laid bare is because of the fact they are both very good (possibley the best) at what they do…but what they do is very different

      for 1 I hope their friendship stands the test of time

  10. LH is capable of producing some real magic in the cockpit. However, I have not seen an ability to learn from his mistakes. We’re too many years into his F1 career for me to think he will fundamentally change his approach.

    Perhaps the most damning thing we’ve seen is LH’s tendency to lash out at others, his team, other drivers and the officials. For example, I’ve heard that he called his team on the carpet for a mistake during qualifying and then went out in the race and drove poorly. Also, recall the Monaco fiasco.

    Button is a very smooth driver and can’t seem to carry a car by adapting his driving style like LH or Alonso. However, he does all the other things extremely well to get the most out of his team and develop the car.

    I just get the feeling that LH is more Montoya than Clark. He tends to thrash around when things don’t go his way. Ultimately, success in F1 requires a discipline LH can’t seem to muster, especially over a season. Vettel has upped his game in a way LH hasn’t shown.


  11. Hamilton is and will always be a better racer than JB. There are many references to JB being “smarter” thus accumulating more points – I would describe him more as a scavenger waiting behind for someone to make a mistake or for their tyres to wear out – hideous! Many of JB’s successes occurred as a result of LH’s errors/misfortunes. Perhaps if LH starts taking out the journalists for lunch, he’ll get better press.

    1. What’s with the pathetic scavenger comments.

      You might as well call Alonso for not being able to overtake his team mate with having to ask him to pull over. Or Hamilton for being unable to overtake with causing an incident. I’d rather call all of them fine racers for one reason or another and be entertained by great racing.

      I don’t need to think so negatively of other drivers to make the drivers I follow seem much better.

  12. As long as Whitmarsh is in charge, Button will win this one.

    1. @pking008 What makes you say that?

      1. Another conspiracy. If their favourite driver is not doing well, then blame it on the team, blame it on anyone else but the driver.

        I just hope these Lewis Fans don’t make me end up hating him like I do with Roger Federer. Roger is a great player but I’m just sick of the over praising he gets. Roger used to smash his racquets in the early days. He’s not demonstrating that when he is successful.

  13. I’m sorry, but hasn’t Hamilton specifically conceded the McLaren intra-team battle to Button? I swore it was on an F1F roundup.

    Not that it matters because Button would win that anyway.

  14. Button needs to beat Hamilton. He must prove that he is worth of doing more.
    Jenson already had 2 very good years at McLaren (2011 being arguably his best year in F1), he grew a lot as a driver! I hope he does it.

  15. They are both great drivers but with different styles & abilities. They are both world champions so they have beaten the best & its great to see them racing each other in identical cars.

    I admit to having a preference, but I look forward to many years of them racing together.

  16. There is no point in this sort of debate, as LH fans are such sensible, intelligent, rational people and they are always always right, and Lewis is the best driver ever to walk the planet, all the other drivers just keep getting in his way and making him crash into them, he can do no wrong. I love Lewis.

  17. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Hamilton publicly conceded that Button’s beaten him this season?

    I felt like it was a story on a F1FR one morning.

  18. Lewis was leading Jenson prior to Canada, then Lewis came back when Jenson took 2 retirements (they were tied on 109 points after the British GP). Jenson only overtook Lewis in the WDC after Spa. Jenson had better race results from there on up until Korea.

    Furthermore, leading up to Hungary, Lewis was 3rd on the WDC – 5 points behind Webber, and 25 points ahead of Jenson.

    So I’m not sure whether Lewis has had a completely disasterous year – only in the previous 5 races to Korea that he finished behind Jenson.

    It shall be an interesting year next year – no more excuses for neither of them. If Lewis has another bad year because of incidents and his inability to race in the current conditions then perhaps he’s not the much lauded racer that some have touted here. Jenson hasn’t made much mistakes in races this year and his retirements were caused by the team – demonstrating that he has a better understanding of the current conditions in F1.

  19. Button. Calmer, more experience and a lot smarter. Hamilton has the raw pace but… that’s it, really. Some people say Hamilton’s having an abnormally bad year. I say he’s being beaten by his team-mate.

  20. Australian GP 2012, JB 1st LH 3rd. nuff said…. seriously though I’m a big JB fan, have been for years, but these 2 are totally different drivers, both great, who will excel in different cars, circuits or even with differing FIA rules., though JB seems to have the edge over LH under current circumstances. I fuly expect LH will get his mojo back, though maybe not this year as I don’t think current rules suit his style as much as Button. Hopefully he is a big enough “Man” to realise he can learn a lot from JB ( as I think JB may have done in reverse, finding more speed by learning from his team mate??)
    Lewis has many years ahead of him in F1, he will have many more chances at becoming WDC, Button less so, possibly spurring him on to his recent form success, coupled with the years of experience he has picked up. Remember his playboy tag a few years ago?? Since then, he has matured and developed as a driver, something LH just needs time to do too. Instead of knocking this driver or that, we Brits should be grateful that we have 2 world class drivers representing us with PD in the wings too. Awesome for the future of British F1 racing.

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