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. Mr.Zing Zang said on 24th October 2011, 0:42

    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.

  2. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 24th October 2011, 0:48

    Button’s got this one.

    Next year should be a good battle!

  3. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 24th October 2011, 0:53

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

    • Mr.Zing Zang said on 24th October 2011, 1:35

      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.

      • 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.

        • Mr.Zing Zang said on 24th October 2011, 3:24

          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.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2011, 8:39

            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.

  6. Phil T (@phil-t) said on 24th October 2011, 2:33

    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.

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 24th October 2011, 8:02

      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.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 24th October 2011, 9:42

        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.

  7. Squib said on 24th October 2011, 3:11

    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….

  8. Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 24th October 2011, 3:50

    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.

  9. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 24th October 2011, 4:56

    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.

  10. vho (@) said on 24th October 2011, 5:26

    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.

  11. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 24th October 2011, 6:27

    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.

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

  13. gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 24th October 2011, 9:57

    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.

  14. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 24th October 2011, 10:48

    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!

  15. mcmclaren said on 24th October 2011, 11:08

    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

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2011, 12:58

      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.

      • mcmclaren said on 24th October 2011, 17:18

        @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

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2011, 20:54

          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.

          • The Edge (@the-edge) said on 25th October 2011, 12:18

            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!

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th October 2011, 18:48

            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.

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