Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011

Whitmarsh: Hamilton ‘underestimated Button’

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011
Hamilton and Button battle for position in Hungary

Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton underestimated the threat posed by Jenson Button.

Button joined the team last year and this season became the first of Hamilton’s team mates to beat him in the championship standings in F1.

Asked by the official F1 website if Hamilton underestimated Button, the McLaren team principal said: “Possibly. He probably did, yes.

“Let?s be open about it. Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every team mate that?s come his way.

“Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie. He did the same with Nico Rosberg in karting frankly – and every other team mate on his way into Formula 1.

“He was disarmed by Jenson at the beginning and he probably thought that he was a nice guy, but he?d beat him. And he was probably surprised. Jenson on the other hand is of course also keen to beat his team mate but he would never do it in an underhand manner.

“For both drivers it?s true that there are no politics involved and both want to contribute equally to the team. Of course when you join a team as a driver and know that I have known Lewis since he was 11 you might question whether you would be treated equally.

“But all the talk about who is the number one driver in the team is media-made, as McLaren have always been a team that let their drivers race. That is our spirit and we remain true to it.”

Whitmarsh added: “for Lewis, by his own extraordinary standards, it?s been a disappointing year. Lewis expects more from himself and the world expects more from Lewis, so this season has been very challenging for him. There?s been a lot going on in his life.”

He said Button’s style leads people to underestimate him: “Jenson on the other hand is a person that is easily underestimated.

“You could ask whether he really is a fighter and whether he has the hunger, because he has such superb manner. Sometimes that might be a worry before you know him better, but I have to say that I know him a lot better now.

“You only have to stand back to see how hard he?s raced and how hard he pushed in Canada for his incredible win. It was raw determination.

“He has his battles with Lewis and wants to beat Lewis and that?s as we want it to be. I think we have a very good dynamic in the team because I know that teams can often talk about tranquillity and relationships in a team and put some spin on it, but I think that anyone who witnesses our drivers sees that there is genuine respect there.

“Even in the heat of the moment like in Canada where Lewis could have been easy meat for the media he showed extraordinary maturity and the way it was handled spoke volumes about the relationship in the team and especially between the two guys.”

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188 comments on “Whitmarsh: Hamilton ‘underestimated Button’”

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  1. I think there has been things going on in the team between Whitmarsh and Lewis and I believe one day the true story will come out. Yes, Lewis says he has had relationship and family problems to deal but I think it has not been good inside the team

  2. For the life of me I don’t why he said that

    Lewis’s response to being told that he was feeling pressure from Button by Whitmarsh. This came after the “rubbish” statement earlier.

    What does it all mean, who knows? However, when it’s printed for all to see people will perceive it to mean something is not right between Whitmarsh and Hamilton.

  3. Reading between the lines, I think Whitmarsh likes Jenson Button more as a person than he does Hamilton. Its true that Whitmarsh has known Lewis for years, but Hamilton was Ron Dennis’ find. It was Ron Dennis who aided Hamilton’s career from 1995 onwards, and who paired him with Fernando Alonso.
    Hamilton and Button are two very different personalities. Hamilton likes the limelight and all the kudos, Button appears far more reserved and likes to play everything down. The reason Alonso and Hamilton clashed in 2007 is that they both wanted the same thing, team domination, but Dennis chose his ‘boy wonder’ over the Spaniard and all hell broke loose. They are two men who have ‘too’ much in common, and that often ends in disaster.
    Button has managed to gel with the team in a way that Alonso was unable to do, and everytime Hamilton has screwed up this year, it has made Button all the more stronger. He hasn’t thrown any tantrums in public, even after a bad result, and he hasn’t made the mistakes. Only Maldonado has more penalties than Hamilton this year, and that speaks for itself.
    Its not just the fact that Button has beaten him that must rankle Lewis, but the fact that he isn’t the star of the team anymore, its epicentre. He lost that when Ron Dennis stood down in 2009.

  4. kenneth Ntulume
    19th November 2011, 8:27

    With all due honesty, its hard not to see that Whitmarsh, consistently and continuously makes comments that are not exactly favorable for Lewis, on the other-hand he consistently talks up Button, whatever the case its logical to conclude that he favors Button over Lewis, unfortunately though for Mclaren, and the chances of them winning a championship
    I hope they see that beating a team mate is not Lewis’s preoccupation, but to win the championship, thats the kind of car he could need(and i hope Button too), so much so that the inter-team fight is for the championship not who comes a head, between the two, its mediocre that Whitmarsh has reduced the team to this!!!
    Again i agree as earlier posted, it would be a huge mistake, if Mclaren is built around Button rather than Lewis…….

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