Hamilton vs Button: Four races left, five points in it

2012 F1 season

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 2012The Korean Grand Prix was a disaster for McLaren. The team came away with a single point, their worst result since the beginning of the partnership between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in 2010.

Afterwards Hamilton admitted he is “too far away now” in the championship. With Button even further behind, the best the pair can hope for now is to lift McLaren back in front of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

There is also the matter of personal pride at stake. With Hamilton off to Mercedes at the end of the season, the final races will decide which of Britain’s world champions gets bragging rights over the other from their time together at McLaren.

Hamilton beat Button in the championship in 2010 but the tables were turned last year – the first time Hamilton had ever been beaten by a team mate in F1.

When Button joined McLaren at the end of 2009 he had just clinched the world championship with Brawn. Even so many expected him to have a difficult time at the team where Hamilton had previously come out on top against two-times world champion Fernando Alonso.

But the points show the pair have been very evenly-matched. McLaren have not failed to score in a single race since the Button-Hamilton partnership was formed at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.

In their 54 races together Button and Hamilton have racked up 1,235 points between them. Hamilton is ahead by just five points – but will he still be when the partnership ends in four races’ time?

Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button: 2010-2012

Here’s how many points the pair have scored in the 54 races from the beginning of 2010 up to last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
Lewis Hamilton 15 23 31 49 49 59 84 109 127 145 157 157 182 182 182 192 210 222 240 258 262 287 299 317 325 325 337 349 374 386 386 398 408 418 436 442 467 467 482 497 512 516 520 530 555 555 559 559 584 584 609 609 619 620
Jenson Button 6 31 35 60 70 70 88 106 121 133 143 147 147 165 177 189 189 199 214 222 240 252 260 275 290 315 323 323 323 348 363 381 399 424 436 454 469 484 509 509 527 527 529 529 529 533 534 552 560 585 585 603 615 615

Technical failures

Lewis Hamilton


2010 Hungarian Grand Prix – Gearbox (was 4th)
2011 Brazilian Grand Prix – Gearbox (was 6th)
2012 German Grand Prix – Damage (was 16th)
2012 Singapore Grand Prix – Gearbox (was 1st)


2010 Japanese Grand Prix – Gearbox (five places)
2012 Chinese Grand Prix – Gearbox (five places)

NB. Hamilton had wheel failure during the 2010 Spanish Grand Prix while running second with two laps to go, but was classified 14th

Jenson Button


2010 Monaco Grand Prix – Overheating (was 11th)
2011 British Grand Prix – Wheel (was 2nd)
2011 German Grand Prix – Hydraulics (was 8th)
2012 Italian Grand Prix – Fuel pump (was 2nd)


2012 Japanese Grand Prix – Gearbox (five places)

Over to you

Which McLaren driver has impressed you most since the beginning of 2010? And who do you think will come out on top?

Have your say in the comments.

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164 comments on Hamilton vs Button: Four races left, five points in it

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  1. matt90 (@matt90) said on 18th October 2012, 11:30

    I think that Hamilton has had the rough end of the deal when it comes to luck. And if you counted up the points each driver has lost from all incidents that were out of their control- reliability, pit errors, competitors causing crashes- Hamilton would be more than those 4 points ahead. Nevertheless, Button has impressed, and came out ahead last year on merit.

    • adamf184 (@adamf184) said on 18th October 2012, 11:47

      Yeah I agree. The DNF stats dont really show up how many time LH has limped home with mechanical issues. E.g Loosing 3rd gear in Japan 2011 and letting JB past. Also he picked up the German GP puncture running a lot higher than the DNF position shows. Its right but doesnt really show a true reflection on the points lost due to bad luck.

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 18th October 2012, 11:57

      Give us some statistics. I’m having a hard time believing that Hamilton would’ve had that much more bad luck than Button. Hamilton is on the spot light, so when he has bad luck everyone remembers that. Just last race Kobayashi crashed into Button on the first corner, yet everyone is talking about how Hamilton fought himself to 10th place even though he had mechanical difficulties.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 18th October 2012, 14:09

        Hamilton was already ahead in that particular case, so it isn’t hard to imagine it staying that way. Hence it was talked about more. Hamilton has also lost two potential wins (Spain and Singapore this year) whereas Button hasn’t had such a high profile malfunction. I can’t really be bothered to look into statistics, but I am pretty certain that although Button hasn’t exactly gotten off lightly, it has been Hamilton bearing the brunt of his team’s and other’s mistakes.

        • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 18th October 2012, 14:44

          But we’re talking about 2010-2012. During that time, there has been 54 races and without statistics it’s hard to believe that Hamilton would’ve had more bad luck, since in the long run everyone has the same amount of luck. As we can see, they both have the same amount of technical retirements.

          Highlighting a couple of races doesn’t prove anything.

          • Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th October 2012, 14:47

            You could argue that Hamilton’s bad luck has been more costly. Also the errors probably balance, Lewis’ brain farts and crashes probably equal Jensons ‘bad setup days’, but the former will inevitably attract more criticism.

          • Theres problems Lewis had that arnt on that list because he still finished the race. Such as a gearbox problem in Suzuka 2011 where he had to yield to Button, and problems such as the last 2 races where he had broken suspension in both but still managed to finish the race.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 18th October 2012, 15:13

            in the long run everyone has the same amount of luck

            That is patently not true, whether you’re talking about racing or any aspect in life.

          • John H (@john-h) said on 18th October 2012, 16:56

            Luck remains Gaussian distributed when summed. See the central limit theorem for random walks. In plain English, this means that luck does not even out at all and you can be lucky or unlucky your whole life, its just unlikely.

          • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 18th October 2012, 17:13

            True. But at least we can say that no person is “lucky” or “unlucky” in a way that we could determine his future luck just by looking at past events. And I’ve been reading this “oh no, Hamilton is so unlucky” ever since 2007 every season. It’s very very very very unluckily that same person would be unlucky for six seasons in a row, right?

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 18th October 2012, 15:11

          @hotbottoms Off the top of my head, a round up for Hamilton this year:
          Australia- arguably quite unlucky to lose 2nd due to when the safety car came out. Would he have stayed ahead of Vettel? Who knows. Potential 3 points lost though.
          China- He should have started 2nd, ahead of Button. And Button should have challenged Rosberg more closely were it not for a for stop, so perhaps Hamilton could have done the same. Hamilton lost a likely 3 points, and possible 10 had he challenged for the win.
          Bahrain- I believe he was running 2nd when his first pitstop troubles happened. This was compounded later with another bad stop. He lost a possible 14 points if we’re being generous, only 8 if we assume both Lotus’ had the pace to beat him.
          Spain- Hard not to see him winning had he started from pole if he’d been correctly fuelled. 21 points lost (for the conservative estimate, we’ll call it 11 in case Alonso and Maldonado still beat him).
          Monaco- Very debatable, but Hamilton claims he wasn’t told to lap at a pace to cover off Vettel, so a possible 2 points lost from mismanagement.
          Europe- 15 if we assume Maldonado either failed to pass or still earned himself a penalty, 12 had he got past fairly.
          Germany- Very difficult again due to the incident being so early, but the puncture at the beginning may have cost him 15 points. Lets say 10 as a conservative estimate.
          Belgium- This is even more difficult. Vettel stormed through. Had Hamilton managed the same he could have potentially gotten a podium, or at least 4 points for finishing where he started.
          Singapore- 25 points, unless you really think Vettel had the beating of him.
          Korea- I’m not sure when the suspension problems started for Hamilton. But he could have possibly finished 3rd, surely 6th.

          Conservative estimate- 74 points lost this season due to misfortune.
          Ambitious estimate- 135 points.

          Either way, that is a lot from one season. Conversely, purely off the top of my head, Button lost 24 from Italy and Japan combined. Maybe he could have done better in China with a better pit stop, but as I said, so could Hamilton. Button could have finished 7th in Bahrain (ahead of Di Resta, behind Hamilton). So maybe around 30 points for Button.

          Taking misfortune into account does often have its drawbacks- with regards to reliability the point is often made that an unreliable car is often the price you pay for a fast car- but when comparing just the two drivers in the same cars, it is a fair measure. This year at least, Hamilton has vastly outperformed Button beyond what even the points table shows.

          • @matt90 – You can’t really argue the Australia, China & Monaco incidents, but yes, his team have rather thrown a lot of points away from stupid errors. I reckon he’s lost at least 50 from team errors.

          • You can’t really Australia?

            He lost 2nd purly because of the timing of the SC, which is dependant on when Whiting decides to press the SC button. That firmly comes under the ‘lucky/unlucky’ catagory.

            China he had to have an unschedueld gearbox change.

            Monaco, fair enough, thats not bad luck, the team didnt tell him, thats just bad management – but out of all the inncodents, this was the one of the ones he lost least from, so kind of irrelevent to the overall picture

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 19th October 2012, 12:18

            Why do you think you can’t argue Australia, China and Monaco? I think there is definitely a case for them, even if its slight. Not that I think China is slight- he would have been in much better contention, particularly not finding himself leaving the pits into traffic constantly had he actually started 2nd.

          • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 19th October 2012, 12:35

            This sort of analysis isn’t useful because it is put together with the aim of proving a point and is therefore highly unscientific (and that’s not reflecting the nature of the estimates of loss which you are correct in assuming is the only way to come up with a measure). The only way of going about it properly would be an analysis of every GP during the partnership and you would have to measure gains from the misfortune of others as well as losses from own misfortune.

            As @hotbottoms suggests the reality is that over such a large number of races the best assumption is that luck is more-or-less balanced and the points situation is a fair reflection unless anyone can properly disprove it.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 19th October 2012, 14:26

            I don’t see why in a comparison that is purely between these two team mates you would need to consider the misfortune of others. I would have looked at the other 2 years, but quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered.

        • tallbloke (@tallbloke) said on 26th November 2012, 17:59

          2nd place @ monza…… button has had his run of bad luck. Just as said hes out of the spotlight due to the lack of brain farts IMHO.

    • That’s just racing, safety cars are beyond the drivers’ or teams’ control; everyone is affected by a safety car. China, I suppose is partly bad luck but again that isn’t something the team have much control over; gearboxes sometimes fail (although I do believe that the Singapore incident could have been averted if he were to take a gearbox penalty, although I don’t know whether the team knew there was any fault), you just have to roll with the tide. Both Valencia and Belgium were racing incidents I shall add, and are again largely beyond his or the teams’ control (he could possibly have avoided both incidents had he been more forgiving, but why should he have, after all racing drivers aren’t signed to let people through without a fight).
      But yes, I don’t disagree with you that McLaren have rather ruined his championship chances. Even if we discount the events which were beyond his or the teams control (Belgium, Valencia, Australia and Singapore) the amount of points he has lost would have put him well within title contention (if McLaren could keep pace with Red Bull that is).

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 19th October 2012, 12:28

        I never said that the team was responsible for Belgium or Valencia. I wasn’t even talking about his championship ambitions, let alone how his team have stifled them. I was only talking about his general misfortune in comparison to Button, which puts their points tally much closer than it would be if the both had good luck.

    • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 18th October 2012, 20:38

      Let’s compare a head to head failures

      L. Hamilton J. Button


      Spain (tire failure) Monaco (engine failure)
      Hungary (drive shaft) Belgium (Vettel crashing)
      Japan (lost 3rd gear and let JB past)


      Monaco (poor strategic call in Q3) Turkey (delayed stop)
      Turkey (delayed stop) Britain (loose wheel)
      Britain (fuel saving lost him a place) Germany (hydraulics)
      Brazil (gearbox)


      China (gearbox penalty) Italy (gearbox)
      Bahrain (delayed pitstops) Japan (gearbox penalty)
      Spain (fuel problem in Q3) Korea (K. Kobayashi)
      Valencia (P. Maldonado)
      Germany (puncture)
      Belgium (R. Grosjean)
      Singapore (gearbox)
      Japan (rear suspension)
      Korea (rear anti roll bar and astro turf)

  2. Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 18th October 2012, 11:32

    Lewis kinda beat Button in 2011 season too in performance, just the points don’t show it

    • Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 18th October 2012, 11:37

      It’s the same in this season too, Lewis was always infront of Button, when he was behind it was because of team mistake, penalty, failed pitstop and so on…

      • Chris (@chriswayne1985c) said on 18th October 2012, 11:46

        Yes, because points are not a true indicator of performance

      • Mads (@mads) said on 18th October 2012, 16:21

        This season, then yes, Hamilton has been a LOT better then Button. And even if he still is quite a bit ahead on points (this year) it is still not representative of how much better he has driven. But 2011 was his own fault. There is a difference between being unlucky, and being stupid. Your performance cannot be better if you crash into someone on lap 17. Even if you by that time was 20 seconds ahead of your team mate.

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 19th October 2012, 7:21

          @mads . I agree about 2011… its hard to say Hamilton was unlucky because he drove stupidly and made errors of judgement that top drivers shouldn’t be making. Having said that, even in 2011, when Hamilton was at his worst and Button was at his best, they ended up with the same number of wins and not that far off in the points tally.

          In 2010, I think the points total was slightly flattering to Jenson. I remember Keith did an article on how many drivers would have lost or gained points if luck wasn’t a factor, and I remember Jenson was the only one that gained points from other people’s misfortunes while Vettel, Lewis and Fernando lost points. Jenson got a little lucky with his strategic gambles in Australia and China, or else he would have finished the season without a win. Honestly, in 2010 I’ve never seen a driver more content with finishing just behind his teammate than Jenson.. and that says a lot about the driver.

          In 2012, we cannot even compare the two. Hamilton has been light years ahead of his teammate on quali and race pace. If there was a worst driver of the weekend poll on this site, I think Button would be a common feature on there after his Monaco, Spanish, British GP performances. On the other hand, Lewis is enjoying one of his best seasons in the sport although the points tally may not reflect it.

          At the end of the day, I dont think the 4-5 points between them even matters. There is not a single fan in F1 who would doubt that Lewis was the better of the two drivers while they were teammates.

    • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th October 2012, 11:54

      Not really. In 2011, Hamilton threw away plenty of points through some jarring mistakes (read: his idiotic run-ins with Massa). Button was far more consistent that year, scoring 12 podium-finishes compared to Hamilton’s 6. The points show that.

      As for this year, I would agree that Hamilton has been ahead of Button for pretty much the entire year.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th October 2012, 13:45

      It wasnt even the whole of 2011, just the second half. If I remember correctly, Lewis was even ahead on points until Canada (can someone confirm?) but then he imploded, and it happened to coincide with Jenson suddenly hitting the sweet spot with the car. Just goes to show how half a season in 3 makes all the difference! I can’t accept the argument that on balance Jenson has performed better as a driver during any other period.

      Overall Lewis. I dislike the ‘consistency’ arguments, this season especially should have put that argument to bed. But points differences will never reflect that. If the car is only good enough for 5th then there is nothing to stop the two drivers finishing 5th and 6th and recording almost equal points, regardless of how hard whichever of them fought to get there.

      • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 18th October 2012, 15:37

        But consistency is part of the game. This isn’t an argument about who’s the faster driver, it’s about who’s the better driver overall. And if you can’t bring it home in the points consistently, then clearly something is missing in the package. Point in case would be Alonso leading the championship for so long without having the fastest car. On the days where he couldn’t capitalize on opportunities to win, he was scoring. It well and truly has an effect on things to be consistent without being the fastest. You need speed, but you don’t need the best speed.

        • leotef (@leotef) said on 18th October 2012, 15:43

          Good point. That’s I guess what Lewis grasped with bitter taste after finishing 2011 and its result was as shown this year though hampered severely by this or that problems mostly out of his control.

        • Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th October 2012, 16:34

          I think my point was that Lewis has actually been very consistent, the later part of 2011 aside… Surely this is apparent from 2010 and 2012. This is why I think the argument is baseless. I didn’t say anything about speed, not sure where you got that from.

          In any case the “speed vs consistency” argument has been done to death and I think we can all agree such a simplistic view does not reflect the two drivers.

          Consistency is also the aspect that button lacked this year with his setup issues, as another example. Finishing the race is no good if you haven’t done the homework beforehand to give you a good platform to compete for points.

      • leotef (@leotef) said on 18th October 2012, 15:40

        Up until Canada where Lewis was taken out by the crash with Jensen, he was leading 7pts. But don’t think it’s necessary to go over the data. Lewis did inflicted himself which I think part of learning too.
        As for the consistency, old saying of ‘ making faster driver to be consistent vs making consistent driver to be faster’ consideration would be enough. :)
        Ah, I’m not saying Lewis was inconsistent but saying in some aspect he seemed didn’t care that much about consistent point accumulation due to in and out of track issues.

      • panache (@panache) said on 18th October 2012, 16:52

        This comment is hilarious. First you imply that people rate Button higher than Hamilton for his second half of the 2011 season in isolation…then suggest that this season in isolation should debunk any questions over the consistency of Hamilton. Hypocricy much?

        That being said, I completely agree with your comments in response to Joey-Poey.

        • Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th October 2012, 18:11

          Lol too much time spent looking at (NOT posting in!) the planetf1 forums.

          Tbh I openly focus on the latter part of 2011 because thats what really brings the discussions up – take away lewis’ worse than usual form AND jenson’s better than usual form and what do you have? 2.5 years of lewis ahead of jenson. Not by much, but ahead nevertheless. Applies in 10, first half 11 and 12. Vs half a year of positions reversed.

          So yes, I absolutely believe that some people rate jenson higher than lewis because of 2nd half 2011! JB is undoubtedly a quality driver but IMO lewis edges him in their time as teammates.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 19th October 2012, 11:01

      Well said @wackyracer
      Comparing the two just seems like a no brainer.

  3. Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th October 2012, 11:41

    The two McLaren drivers have been remarkably similar in their results, albeit achieved in different ways. It seems that Hamilton is the faster driver on one-lap pace, generally out-qualifying Button, yet suffers from inconsistency, especially throughout 2011. Conversely, Button has arguably better race pace, and with the exception of his mid-2012 slump, has been quite consistent in his performances. Overall, it does make all the “Hamilton will utterly thrash Button” talk from 2010 look silly now.

    As for who will come out ahead at the end of this season, I would say Hamilton, for the reason that he’s been able to “switch-on” the car more often than Button – as of the Korean GP, Button still seems to struggle with qualifying pace. Nevertheless, 5 points is a very slender margin, and anything could happen.

  4. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 18th October 2012, 11:58

    I feel like it could go either way. One thing with Hamilton is that he often seems to slow down if his motivation drops. I could see him not having a particularly good end to the season how he feels he’s out of contention for the title. That said, this is Hamilton we’re talking about, who is notoriously unpredictable. he could just as well be totally dominant now he doesn’t have the pressure of winning the championship to deal with.

    One thing which does become clear is that McLaren have let their drivers down somewhat in terms of reliability and team management. Both drivers should have scored a lot more points in the last three years.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th October 2012, 11:59

      @mazdachris Particularly this year – you can see how their lines have started to dip.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 18th October 2012, 14:30

        indeed @keithcollantine, very clear to see that they progress in a sort of out of sync lock-step/staircase in these last few races; also, both LH and JB seem to have hit a false-flat 4-5 races into 2012 – yes, LH gets a few good points including the Canada win, and both gets some points, but not a lot all considered.

        Though of course, thanks to his bas last half of 2011 (looking at the scores, before that he was doing okay), LH’s line already started dipping before ;)

  5. sumedh said on 18th October 2012, 12:00

    This pairing reminds me so much of the Kimi-Felipe pairing. Kimi (Hamilton) was expected to trounce Felipe (Button) and did so in the first year. But in the second year, the other driver had the upper hand. And after the third season, the partnership ends with the faster driver making a bizarre career decision (Kimi leaving F1, Lewis going to Mercedes).

    Felipe beat Kimi. So, I will put my money on Button for the last 5 races.

    • sebsronnie (@sebsronnie) said on 19th October 2012, 6:02

      But Felipe was qualifying quite well. If Button doesn’t step up in that area for the remaining races, you’ll lose your money…

  6. Ilanin (@ilanin) said on 18th October 2012, 12:22

    I think it’s pretty clear that, no matter what happens over the next five races, the overall difference between Hamilton and Button in terms of their points-scoring ability is pretty small. They’ve each got strengths and weaknesses but the overall sums come out about the same. The difference between them is less than that between Piquet and Mansell at Williams (142-131 to Piquet) or Senna and Prost at McLaren (163-150 to Prost); and both of those comparisons were over two seasons and using old points systems which involved smaller numbers.

    It’s hard not to think that Lewis has more potential than he’s shown in these last three years, but he’s not fulfilling it. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on versus Rosberg; I’d claim he was performing to the level of his team-mate, but that’s only truly for Button and Alonso – he absolutely thrashed Kovalainen.

    • tvm (@) said on 18th October 2012, 16:58

      Actually it’s pretty clear that Hamilton would have had close to 100 points more than button this season were it not for team f ups.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 18th October 2012, 18:03

      Interesting though that the more spectacular driver (argued sometimes to be the better driver) tends to lose out in the end, not taken time to look in detail at the reasons why in each of those cases.

    • my maths has prost at 186 and senna at 154.

      on points they scored, rather than top 11 results thing we had at the time.

      if all points scored counted back then(like it does today) Prost was comfortably the superior of the 2.

  7. Mike (@mike) said on 18th October 2012, 12:23

    Awesome graph. :D

    I think what we can take from this, isn’t that Button is great, it’s that Lewis has let himself down. He should be ahead, he has the raw driving talent to be ahead and I don’t think he has any excuses why he isn’t.

    • Why should it be that? For some reason it seems really hard for people to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, Button is actually a great driver.

      Personally I think Button is just a bit more sensitive to car setup, and that Hamilton is better in a car which isn’t quite perfect. But on the other hand, I feel Button tends to stay out of trouble a bit more than Hamilton does. So it evens out.

      I must say I expected Hamilton to destroy Button as well, and kudos to Button for showing me, and pretty much everyone, wrong.

      • You would never have seen the horrendous run of races Button had earlier this season from Hamilton, where Button was downright slow for a number of grand prix in a row. Even when Hamilton was struggling last year he was always fast, he just kept tripping himself up by getting involved in unnecessary accidents.

        • And in the end it’s all about results and scoring points. And on that matter, Hamilton only outscored Button by 5 points so far… And that’s even with the new point system too.

          Perhaps Hamilton is quicker in the races, but that doesn’t get you far if you don’t finish. Each of them are strong in different areas, and it pretty much evens out.

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 19th October 2012, 11:23

        For some reason it seems really hard for people to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, Button is actually a great driver

        Most of us have watched him race his over the past 12 seasons .. so I guess we have enough reason to think he isn’t anything great.

  8. Stewart (@douglst) said on 18th October 2012, 12:29

    Personally I think the gap is much larger than the points difference indicates and think that Lewis has been more impressive than Jenson. If you exclude all of the out of car behaviour and look at each weekend allocated points and added them up and compared them I think it would be significantly in Lewis’s favour. I think Jenson has done a decent job but too many of his good results have come in mixed conditions (and there is a skill to exploiting that) but also a random element. If you look a “normal/dry” race conditions Lewis is well on top particularly if you look at where they were running at the time either of them had incidents. The gap is even bigger in “normal/dry” qualifying.

    In 2010 in a car that was long way from being the best Lewis was at least within 25 points of the championship going into the last race, Jenson was the first one of the big 5 out of the championship battle.

    In 2011 yes Jenson finished ahead but let’s be honest that championships was over in Valencia so coming second 400 points behind the winner in my opinion does not count for much. Yes Lewis let that frustration get the better of him and started crashing into everyone and he deserves a black mark for that but it made no difference whatsoever to the world championship.

    In 2012 I think the gap is the biggest it has ever been look at the Spain through to Hungry and the gap has been “Massa-esq” for several weekends and again who was the first of the five out of the championship running……..

    Ignore all the other crxp focus on the time in the car in normal conditions when the title has been a possibility and Lewis has comfortably been better.

    • leotef (@leotef) said on 18th October 2012, 14:22

      Yes comparing points each have earned may explain one thing, but not that much. It’s interesting that kinda early successful achiever with huge talent tends to deviate or distract away soon after the success made. And think we saw a lot of childish or arrogant and sometimes self oriented behavior all of which is typical phenomenon for those case. Then comes the gap between what he thought he was and the reality mostly from his own naive attitude or lack of concentration. Then comes the recognition and need to re-focus, regain, re-work etc.
      I reckon he is passing thru the last phase of these learning process, not just simply faster vs. consistent kind of virtue. If he really find way to keep his motivation high and keep hard working, he may return with way more stronger form and I bet he will partly ’cause I know this kind of people.

    • leepat0302 (@leepat0302) said on 19th October 2012, 2:51

      +1 If you were going to put your hard earned money on either driver to win the next race you would always put your money on Hamilton to win and anyone who says different is kidding themselves its as simple has that. Look back at your Pick the Pole and Podium predictions and you Button fans will find you chose Hamilton to to beat button everytime .

  9. ben (@dubaemon) said on 18th October 2012, 12:36

    Those are very interesting graphs. the gradients really show the drivers form/issues.
    final Points are important yes but i also think that dominance is as much, if not more telling about the quality of a driver.
    I like Button but he s only been ahead 15 races out of 54 so about a quarter.
    So it s clear that Ham has dominated their Mclaren years even if at the end he might get less points.

  10. Tom Haxley (@welshtom) said on 18th October 2012, 12:54

    I think it shows that they are a decent combination. If Mcl could have sorted out operational mistakes and pitstops the pair of them should have been having 1-2’s all over the place. Button always seems to be fighting the car and Hamilton the pit screw mistakes and other drivers..

    I think Hamilton is the faster driver, but Button is more consistent. As with every sport, when those two things come together its unstoppable (Vettel, Tiger Woods, Federer etc etc).

  11. It has been very interesting and also eye-opening to follow the partnership. When Jenson got the seat I was ready to swear that Lewis would – maybe not crush him – but at least be the clear leader of the two.

    I still believe Lewis is the faster driver, better qualifier and much better at advancing through the field but even though he is now a very experienced pilot there is no way around the fact that he is still immature and reacting much more on emotions than his knowledge and experience. This is precisely what pulls his total output back down to the level of Jenson; who in my opinion possesses less raw talent and speed but manages his skills much more successfully.

    In terms of driving style it is not hard to draw parallels to Senna and Prost but today I don’t see either of these younger comparisons achieving the status of the old legends. Where Prost was had immense attention to detail and kept optimizing his tactics while fighting along, Button seems to get rather confused and insecure when things are not working to his advantage. Senna always worked rigorously to obtain as much understanding as he possible could, but while he showed lots of aggression and emotion he never let it interfere with his exceptional concentration.

    The bottom line in both cases is that both approaches seem to work out to somewhat equal results, which has been eye-opening to me even though I followed the legends back then as well. The one fact that it doesn’t change is that drivers like Ayrton and Lewis are much more exiting to watch simply because they drive much closer to the limit, which in return causes more errors from which the slower and more laid back drivers will benefit.

    Though Lewis has improved a lot since his terrible 2011 effort he is still his own worst enemy. Jenson on the other hand is in my opinion pretty consistent in the lower half of the top ten best drivers of today.

    • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th October 2012, 13:28

      Completely agree. Your assessments of the two McLaren drivers are just spot-on.

    • leotef (@leotef) said on 18th October 2012, 13:58

      he is still his own worst enemy.

      I think this is spot on. If it does apply to every human being, it can’t be more true to Hammy’s case than anybody else in the grid du jour.
      It can be said his better form this year is a direct result of his bad self destructing year of 2011, even though this time around team issues or other tech glitches ruined his races. But this year also can be read as positive in the sense that those adversities can make him stronger than ever unless he succumb to them.

      • ben (@dubaemon) said on 18th October 2012, 20:51

        They are different people with different approach to how they function in F1 BUT Jenson has a massive advantage, he has more years of experience of life and racing.
        Of course Lewis cannot be as mature. And i think that might be on of the reason why he wanted to change team. To gain experience and become a more rounded driver that he needs to be if he wants to win championships against the many incredible drivers of this era.

  12. umar (@umarbaloch) said on 18th October 2012, 13:17

    Both of them did a great job. in 2010 hamilton beat button 2011 button beat hamilton.now lets see who ‘s gonna win

  13. sebsronnie (@sebsronnie) said on 18th October 2012, 13:19

    Keith, in the DNF list, haven’t you omitted this year’s European GP for Lewis (the collision with Pastor)? Was he classified then?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th October 2012, 13:51

      @sebsronnie No I left it out because it wasn’t a technical failure – likewise the other retirements due to collisions such as Hamilton in Belgium last year. Also, as you say, he was classified, in 19th.

      • trublu (@trublu) said on 18th October 2012, 16:43

        I think you should also add the retirements due to collisions. X number of points out of Y possible number of points (i.e after ALL retirements) makes for a better comparison. e.g 250/300 is more impressive than 300/400

        • NOOK360 said on 18th October 2012, 20:34

          That would be very hard to decide. For example, the Maldonado Crash could’ve been easily avoided by Lewis while Button couldn’t do anything about Vettel taking him out in Spa 2010.

  14. jochenrindt78 (@jochenrindt78) said on 18th October 2012, 13:40

    If anything Hamilton has gone down in my estimations as one of the best, The true greats in F1 are the more complete drivers that have speed, consistency, media skills & race craft, a driver lacking any of these can flounder. Being the fastest is not the be all and end all of any kind of racing, I have hoped that hamilton would gain more experience and become a great, but to a lesser extent this season has been tarnished by ill conceived twitter spats and contract negotiations…its seems any kind of distraction can take away from the resources Hamilton has on track. A weakness, I believe. How he deals with the pressure at Mercedes next year will either make or break him – I for one cannot wait to see what happens.
    Mclarens performance – has been the major problem for both drivers pretty much in equal measure, for a top line team they make way too many mistakes and reliability has been up and down compared to their rivals.

  15. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 18th October 2012, 13:41

    What I think a lot of people don’t really appreciate is that there is far more to being a racing driver than just being quick around a lap of a track. This is what people talk about when they say that the likes of Alonso are ‘complete’ drivers – they have the raw pace over a single lap, but they also have that harder to define quality of being able to keep up consistency even when things aren’t going well. It’s those odd few extra points picked up on ‘bad days at the office’ that really make all the difference. This is the area where Button is very good. He’s a very solid performer and while on the very best days he’s generally the slower of the two drivers, I’d say that on a bad day it’s Jenson who is able to better maximise the performance while often Hamilton starts to unravel slightly.

    I’d put this down to Button having spent so many years in very poor cars. During those bad years he’ll have learned essential skills in helping keep himself motivated even when the rewards for pushing may seem quite insignificant in the scheme of things. By contrast, Hamilton has spent virtually his whole career driving top quality machinery, all the way back to his karting days, and so has never really picked up these skills. He’s never had to. But it’s one thing he should definitely try to add to his bag of tricks because it would make him a much more comprehensive driver and give him a far better chance of winning multiple championships in the future. Maybe this is part of his motivation in going into a slightly underperforming team.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 18th October 2012, 14:42

      I feel that there’s a lot of truth in that @mazdachris, though with a few caveats. Hamilton’s showing in the last few races, almost comically tragic in some ways (and in a way for much of the season, with the pit stop etc. problems), was impressive, and was quite clearly getting everything out of a misbehaving car/situation (though he initially seemed to react moody and erratic before getting his act together and making the most of it); while Button wasn’t able to get much out of the car after the first races and until the Germany update. But Button is much better able to be patient, and that certainly is learned through (self-inflicted) years in disappointing cars. Let’s see what Hamilton learns at Mercedes :p

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 18th October 2012, 14:45

      I don’t think Jenson is actually that good on bad days at the office. He is more resilient than Lewis in the sense that he wouldn’t have let his personal life interfere with his racing, I believe, but in my opinion he is nowhere near Alonso or Vettel in terms of picking up points on difficult days. First of all, you have to be a decisive overtaker to quickly make your way through traffic in case you’ve fallen back, and I’ve seen Jenson getting stuck too often too quickly (most recently in Hungary this year, where on newer tyres he couldn’t get by Bruno Senna). Second, if ‘the day is bad’ because of an unbalanced car, then Jenson cannot do much with it.

      Last year was the absolute high of Jenson’s career, together with the first half of 2009. In the second part of 2011, his car was always to his liking, and overtaking was easier than ever before with KERS, (too much) DRS, and huge performance differences between old and new tyres (much more than this year, I feel). This meant that any ‘hesitancy’ in overtaking was overcome by being able to overtake intelligently, and he could work his way through the field as in Spa 2011.

      • leotef (@leotef) said on 19th October 2012, 3:47

        @adrianmorse – Not sure if 2011 was the absolute high of Jenson – well, think it WAS relative high though :P. But it sounds true that Jenson got a lot of benefit to his like with new things and rule changes as well as tyre changes to Pirelli, all of which also benefited RB and Vettel to dominate.

        • leotef (@leotef) said on 19th October 2012, 3:54

          And adding one more, also not sure if Jenson is even ‘good’, not ‘that good’, on bad days. My take is he’s been mediocre unless everything is perfect to him – that may be the reason we hear so many times about grip and balance, leaving the tyre preserving ability as his key competence.

  16. Fernando Cruz said on 18th October 2012, 14:07

    Hamilton should have much more points than Button, but he lost a lot with mistakes and also suffered more mechanical failures and bad strategy from his team. Furthermore Button is very intelligent, like a Prost, and that also meant he challenged Hamilton much more than we could expect.

  17. Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 18th October 2012, 14:08

    Very insightful article, Button has proven himself to be a strong driver.

    Would be great to complement this with comparison of points lost due to non-driver factors (pit stop errors, failure, strategy blunders) between the two, and indeed the whole grid.

    Id put a lot of money on Hamilton being unluckiest driver over 3 years by a distance. Pretty crazy that the best driver in one of best cars can be off the pace despite only making one significant error all season that I can recall.

    • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 18th October 2012, 14:09

      *off the pace in the championship I meant…

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 18th October 2012, 14:51

      Though we do have to remember @switchbacker that operational errors (though mostly slow pitstops and weird strategy, some missed wheels featured too last year didn’t they?) were the reason McLaren got Sam Michael – not everyone’s choice, but they did need to fix those. And I think the mistakes were in previous years more clear on Buttons car (Monaco side-pod blocked, silverstone wheel left off …).

      Hamilton more often suffered from odd, or unrealistic, strategies, which points to a problem between him and the team in sorting that out. Button has at times “lucked around” those, or been too slow to show up the problem (though Hungary …).

  18. Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 18th October 2012, 14:09

    Both Button and Hamilton had been let down by McLaren’s unreliability in equal measure it has to be said. We all know McLaren has no problems producing a fast car (even though it might not be the class of the field in a particular season; it’s enough to pose a serious threat at the front end and score wins).

    In the last 10 years, it has problems producing a fast AND reliable car though. A team of McLaren’s resources with only 1 driver’s and 0 constructor’s title in the last 10 years needs to do some soul-searching over the dismal title drought. I think that’s why Lewis got fed up (and likewise Kimi earlier on) with always having a title challenge undermined by unreliability. Jenson will feel the same if the trend carries on in 2013.

    Lewis has had his tantrums and might strike some fans as immature but you can’t argue against his raw pace and natural talent and over the course of 3 years, he was definitely the faster of the 2 drivers at McLaren.

    It will be interesting to see the Lewis vs Nico battle. Is Nico up there with there with Lewis in terms of raw speed? As for Jenson vs Sergio, not sure how to call on that. It could go the same way as David vs Kimi in 2002 where David was outranked in qualifying but scored heavily compared to his new inexperience team-mate.

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 18th October 2012, 14:16

      The greatest weakness that Button has perhaps is that if the car is not set up to his liking, he completely falls off the cliff as we saw in Canada this year when he was lapped by Hamilton. Whereas the likes of Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel can drive around the same problem and still deliver a competitive finish.

      I like Button as a driver and you can count on him to deliver some top-drawer glorious moments that have fans on the edge of their seats like Canada last year. The walloping he gave an out-of-sorts Lewis last year was i feel, a more majestic effort than even his 2009 season in comparison. He will retire in future with a F1 career to be proud of. He is however close but maybe just not close enough to be part of the stratosphere that the likes of Alonso reside in. If you put Button in the F2012, he won’t disgrace the car and he would definitely outpace Massa but he probably won’t wring as much out of the car as Alonso – which is what the super-elite drivers will do.

      Put it this way, if a poll were to be done now on which current drivers would squeeze in into a revised list of all-time top 20 F1 drivers, Jenson’s name probably won’t figure in the discussion as prominently as super-elite drivers like Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen and of coz, MSC.

  19. LSL1337 (@lsl1337) said on 18th October 2012, 14:10

    And when did Hamilton beat Alonso?, when was this again?5 second place vs 3 second place, not realy beating someone…
    Button had just as many mistakes on his side of the garage (like 2010, Monaco engine cover, silverstone, tyre change, etc)
    so, after 54 races, we can say they pretty much neck and neck, even though Button lacks the ultimate pace, but he is still pretty good, and consistency is VERY important in F1. If it weren’t for the mysterious 2012 mid season slump of Button, he would be ahead, but maybe we can say the same last year about Hamilton’s mid season (massa run-ins).

    • Fernando Cruz said on 18th October 2012, 14:54

      The mysterious 2012 mid season slump of Button is no longer a mystery: he simply took a lot of time to cope with the best way to warm his tyres in a single lap, given the very short performance window of this year’s tyres. It happened the same to Bruno Senna, a driver with a similarly smooth driving style. In some races they also had problems, particularly in Canada, where they didn’t manage to conserve their tyres to be competitive and Button finished a lap behind his winning team mate.
      Button’s luck is that he has the full support of a top team and much more experience than Senna, who still has the problem of losing FP1 almost everywhere.

      The real mystery is why were they both competitive enough until Bahrein, when they started suffering more in comparison with their team mates.

      • Gubstar said on 18th October 2012, 17:17

        Completely agree with all of this!! Most punters watching on television have NO CLUE about how much the tyres effect different driving styles, and how it varies from circuit to circuit. Button reminds me of prost, when the car is good, and too his liking, (which isnt very often) he is unbeatable(canada 11, australia 12,spa 12, the first 6 races of 09)
        And considering how much time Bruno has lost this year to Bottas(who maybe quick on one lap by himself, but his lower formula racecraft was awful) and how well Bruno has raced in comparison to Pastor, it is a no-brainer that Williams should keep him next year. He is clearly very talented(despite what a lot of the normal poster think on this site) but hasnt been given a fair crack at the whip

  20. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 18th October 2012, 14:49

    The Hamilton v Button comparison reminds me of another McLaren pairing that varied in their comparative success in the same way. When Raikkonen and Montoya were paired, generally if the car was good Raikkonen was faster. When the car was not so good is was Montoya.
    They also remind me another famous McLaren paring, that of Senna and Prost. Whilst their comparative performance was also governed by the cars handling, albeit to a lesser degree the main similarity is that Senna wore his heart on his sleeve like Hamiltion and Prost was much more political and savy like Button.
    If Hamilton and Button had continued as teams mates beyond this season and learned each others relative strengths, then both they and McLaren would have reaped the benefits.

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