Same Car – Different Drivers -Observations/Opinions on McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Butt

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    Im 35yr old female and my addiction to f1 began during late 80’s, when I remember the late, great Ayrton Senna winning the Driver’s World Champ/McLaren taking Constructors title.I’d love to hear ur views-what sets Lewis and Jenson apart/gives Lewis the upperhand? Lewis is an aggressive, ‘street circuit’ driver whereas Jenson is cool,calm n steady and regularly beaten by teammate. I feel Jenson holds back,doesnt take those lil risks that would make him a formidable challenger-WHY do u think so different?



    I’ll try to generalise as much as possible, but I think it’s more a case of Jenson’s driving style being more sensitive to car setup. As everyone already knows, his driving style is “smooth.” Unlike Lewis, his car has to have the balance set up precisely, so that the front and rear behave in a similar way. Lewis on the other hand likes to wrestle with the car and has developed his ability to deal with sliding without losing time. In setup, Lewis can be fast with a balance from neutral to the rear being much less hooked up, but Jenson can only really be fast when the setup is neutral.


    Keith Collantine


    This is an interesting question, and hopefully people won’t just come in and bash Jenson Button.

    I’ve struggled with this question many times, often preferring Button to Hamilton for a number of reasons. But after careful consideration over the years, Hamilton is at the moment definitely the quicker driver.

    Hamilton has this ability to make a bad car quick which makes him a great driver, he wrestles that thing until it does what he wants which is great to see. Obviously this doesn’t always work as we’ve seen in the past him make silly mistakes, but this is definitely passing. He has shown he can make overtakes stick, and is able to pass in places many other drivers wouldn’t dare.

    Button on the other hand, really struggles when the car isn’t too his liking, but when a car is how he wants it, such as the Brawn, he was stunning.

    If you look at them in the same car, like the thread title says, they are fairly evenly matched. I think Button has surprised a lot of people as many thought he would be blitzed by Hamilton, and be more like Kovalainen was at McLaren.

    The main difference is in qualifying, Button is regularly out paced here, and he knows it himself. On race pace, Button has shown that he can do a different strategy and come close to Hamilton even after a poor qualifying. I think Hamilton is one of the three top drivers in F1 at the moment, along with Alonso and Vettel and this shows how good Button is by coming very close to him.

    Many people have made the comparison of Senna and Prost, with Hamilton and Button. This is a hard comparison to make as these two drivers are arguably two of the best drivers F1 has ever seen. If we look back on Hamilton and Button in a few years time though, I think we could say it was fairly accurate. Hamilton seems to share that same ability with Senna that he can make the car do what he wants. He has the passion and determination that they both share, and he has a yellow helmet! Button shares many qualities with Prost, such as the way he can separate himself from the race, and think out different strategies, and not just concentrate on pure speed. I think the main difference between Button and Prost though, is that Prost was a little more brutle in his approach, Button seems a little too friendly.

    For me, Hamilton has a few more titles in him definitely. McLaren just need to provide a great car from the start, rather than half way through the season, and he will definitely snap up any opportunity.

    Button on the other hand, seems a bit more like Prost, in the sense that he could win his last championship in a car that is miles above the rest of the field. This for me is the only way I can see him winning another championship.



    I agree with a lot of things DavidS and Smifaye said about the ability of Hamilton to really wrestle with the car and take a 101% out of it, and that Jenson only shows the same level of speed when everything is working perfectly, and capitalises when the car is a race winner anyway.

    I feel a big reason why the points tally between Hamilton and Button has been relatively close since last season is because of the changing rules and regulations in F1. Last year, the emphasis on tyre management began with the ban of refuelling. The strategic focus shifted from fuel loads to getting more out of the tyres and preserving them. For out and out racers like Hamilton, this definitely wasn’t an advantage, and in 2011, it seems like the focus is now primarily on tyre management.

    If you were to ask me one driver on the grid that has benefited the most with regulation changes… I would have to say its Jenson. His inability to wrestle with the car and race on the limit, has been saved by his conservative driving and tyre management skills.

    If we had similar racing as we saw in 2007 and 2008, I suspect that Jenson would get absolutely destroyed by Lewis in every race of the year. Despite of all the rule changes, Hamilton still beats Jenson pretty convincingly. IMHO, I think Hamilton is a far superior driver, even though the points tally does flatter Jenosn a little bit.



    Couldn’t agree more smifaye, although it has to be said Button has rarely beat Hamilton on-track when both have finished the race. Hamilton has also suffered more points losses than Jenson, though at least one was his own fault.



    Hamilton is the more aggressive, whilst Button is the cool & calculating type. You wont see Button make as many mistakes as Lewis, but you wont see Lewis get swamped by as many people off the line (see last weekend for example). But are good at overtaking (Best example for Jenson is Brazil ’09) but Lewis is just more willing to risk it a little bit more. As pointed out, Button needs the car setup to be there or thereabouts, Lewis will just get in and drive around it to within the cars limits regardless.

    1 thing ive picked up on, and I’m in no way saying Lewis is a bottler, but he tends to be at his best when he’s behind someone. I cant exaplin it, its just a feeling i get. But both are, to my mind, the best ‘balanced’ team on the grid and Mclaren have a trump card in having both.



    I too agree completely with smifaye.




    Hamilton has this ability to make a bad car quick which makes him a great driver, he wrestles that thing until it does what he wants which is great to see.

    I don’t think Hamilton “wrestles” the car as much as you all say. Since F1 changed to slicks in 2009 he’s been just as smooth as Button.

    Look at his qualy lap from Abu Dhabi last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wamUuKMZdqU

    His Q2 lap from Spa last year: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xi8rud_lewis-hamilton-spa-q2_auto

    Or this video comparing his and Button’s laps at Malaysia 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5ooAeo0w0A

    As a contrast:

    Hamilton sliding at Monza 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxBEve5P5Vg

    Look at how much he has to correct the car in this 2007 pole lap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt8Gt61gUQg



    hamilton quicker than button, button got no bottle hamilton got bottle



    whitmarsh favours button, only time button gets in front of lewis is when whitmarsh fixes lewis,s statergy so button gets in front,same thing happened today at monaco whitmarsh sent button out in beginning of p3 but kept lewis back and only let lewis out in p3 in the last few minutes to do only 1 quick lap then because of this he did not do his quick lap because of perez accident i have seen this favour of button by whitmarsh time and time again only way whitmarsh can get his favourite button in front of lewis in championship points.i say lewis leave the mcClaren team as you will never win the championship again if you stay with mcCLAREN.



    I like the presence of different styles between drivers, rough and smooth. I like Lewis being rough, although I have seen he’s much cleaner now, whilst Button is a smooth driver. I like to be a smooth driver in videogames, and although I think Massa is a smooth driver I’d rather he was more aggressive.




    I’m not sure wrestling in this case means being a ‘rough’ pilot. I thinks it’s more a case of wanting to put in as good a performance as possible, no matter how the car is. If that means man-handling the car a bit, so be it.

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