Monthly Archives: April 2010

Button and Hamilton, McLaren’s Dream Team?

McLaren’s one-two in China was quite impressive as although they don’t seem to quite have the fastest car, both drivers got the maximum out of their equipment using different strategies and made the rest of the field look quite average. It’s still very early days, but could the pairing of Button and Hamilton be McLaren’s dream team?

Some of the fans of Hamilton, in particular, seem to not think this judging by the comments made on discussion boards. These views were vocalised before the start the season and most recently I read a lot of silly comments on Andrew Benson’s recent blog on the BBC where a lot of Hamilton fans seem to completely refuse the fact that Button, despite winning two of the four races this year, might be as quick as their favourite driver sometimes.

Thankfully the drivers themselves are being very professional and seem to be getting on well, so far(!), and have given each other a lot of respect whilst at the same time pushing each other and the team very hard. This is exactly the way it should be and can really drive a team to the front of the pack.

Earlier in the year I wrote about the similarity of their differing driving styles with the great battle between Senna and Prost at McLaren in 1988-1989. That battle became one of the most acrimonious and intense rivalries in Formula 1 history. The reasons for this were complex, but a big part of it was Senna being unable to accept that Prost, who had such an opposite approach to him, could be as quick he was.

I wrote that I believed, and still do, that the rivalry between Button and Hamilton will not be anywhere near as acrimonious as the Senna versus Prost battle. There seems to be a great potential that Lewis and Jenson could prove to be a most dynamic and fruitful partnership that could bring great success to them both and the team.

The evidence is clear that both Hamilton and Button are quick drivers and seem evenly matched, but their driving skills are different. There will be days when Hamilton is quicker and there will be days when Button is faster. Crucially, both drivers seem to have accepted this and this can only be good for them and the team.

McLaren Team Principal, Martin Whitmarsh, will be delighted with how the partnership is working out at the moment. The drivers are pushing each other hard, but are working together where it counts to develop the car into a consistent race winner.

Their supportive demeanour for each other has been clear to see and this could be the beginnings of a McLaren dream team. I hope that fans of both Hamilton and Button will start to see it this way too.


Button’s Great Decision

No, I’m not talking about his decision not to go for the intermediate tyres like so many of his competitors at the beginning of the Chinese Grand Prix today, but his decision to drive for McLaren in 2010.

It was almost universal opinion last year that Jenson Button’s decision to leave Brawn GP and drive for McLaren was foolish. Even the most loyal fans questioned it and saw it as a risky manoeuvre.

On the face of it, it really didn’t make any sense:

  • Why leave a Championship-winning team?
  • Why leave a team where you are totally embedded into the team as the No.1 driver?
  • Why risk going to another team that had made a truly awful car that year?
  • Why risk being a team-mate to Lewis Hamilton, respected as being one of the very quickest drivers in F1?
  • Why risk being team-mate to Lewis where he is already totally embedded into the team?

Fans and pundits alike came out (e.g. Jackie Stewart andNigel Mansell) to criticise the decision or, at least, to say that Button would struggle against Hamilton in the first year.

Jenson said he needed a bigger challenge to motivate himself and on closer inspection you could almost understand that driving against Nico Rosberg he would not enhance his reputation, he could only damage it. If he drove against Lewis, with most people seeing Hamilton as the better driver, he could enhance his reputation and would not damage it that much if he wasn’t as quick.

Like most people, I was very surprised at his decision to go to McLaren, but the more I thought about it, the more I understood his motives. I think the reality is that he really does want the challenge. He has proved he can win a World Championship and now he wants to prove to himself he can go up against the very best drivers in the same equipment.

So far, after the 4th Grand Prix in Shanghai, he has proved a lot of people very wrong which is always nice to see. There is a long way in the Championship to go, but already Jenson has proved that he and Lewis are closely matched, but clearly are very different drivers.

Jenson Button is leading the championship and has won 50% of the races this year so far. His decision-making skills are clearly as good as his driving.

Who YOU think will be leading the Championship after 5 races?

An interesting statistic was raised by the BBC Formula 1 coverage earlier today that whoever has been leading the Championship after only 4 races has gone on to be Champion in 15 out of the last 20 years.

From just before the start of the first Grand Prix in Bahrain until just before this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix I ran a poll on this blog asking who you think will be leading the championship after 5 races.

The voting was reasonably close, but Alonso emerged as a winner with 30% of you predicting him to be leading after the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Jeremy Clarkson’s son, Sebastian Vettel, came second with 22% of the votes and Lewis Hamilton third with 17%.

Although Massa is currently leading the championship (after 3 races) by 2 points, only 13% of you think he will still be leading in 2 races time. Michael Schumacher received a few votes, but his teammate Nico Rosberg, who has been outperforming him, received no votes at all. Neither did Mark Webber?