Can Button cope with the pressure?

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Although still 18 points clear in the Championship is Jenson cracking under the pressure? His performances of late have not been any where close to the form he showed earlier in the season. The Brawn hasn't performed well when ambient temperatures have been low but at Valencia this weekend his team mate showed how well the car could go, albeit with a little help from a mix-up in the Mclaren pit.

There appear to be lots of articles doing the rounds which comment on Button being nervous and distracted by the run in to the title:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8219709.stm

Niki Lauda suggested Button needs to relax and drew a comparison with the battles he had with Prost when at Mclaren. But Barrichello is no Prost and it seems the problems are more in Buttons head.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/motorsport/2009/08/25/chill-out-jenson-says-niki-115875-21622238/

So do we think Button will be able to regain his focus? Perhaps the extended mid-season break gave him too much thinking time? I think if Button does well at Spa then his title will be back on track, a poor performance in Belgium and there could be problems.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Hmmmmmmmm, on balance, I'd say no. Jens had a (relative) shocker in quali for Valencia and then a crap start to the race but still finished ahead of his then closest rivals for the title (yes, save for seb's engine pops)

To have almost 2 wins in the bag with 6 races left bodes well and may help with any "mental pressure" ;)

Spa is a) going to be damage limitation and b) suit Jens more than Reubens imho
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I was reading Martin Brundles post on the beeb site the other day and he talks about the need for Jenson to up his game in the same way that Hill and Hakinen did. The funny thing about that is if you go to wiki and look at Hill's WDC year (96) his results fell away towards the end of the season and so did Hakinens. Also if you look at Hammys last two seasons his results have tended to drop off towards the end of the season.

I'm not sure if it's pressure or the fact that teams tend to start off with quite a performance gap which narrows as the season progresses.

I think there are enough races left in the season that will favour the Brawn cars but will they favour Jenson is another question. I think Rubens should go well at Spa, it's a track that has seen him turn in some good performances in the past including his first ever pole position (for Jordan). Also Rubens is normally supreme in Brazil if he can get the car to the finish this time.

I think it must be tough to lead rather than to catch and Jenson must be now starting to wonder if he can cross the finishing line but he should be able to handle that.

As Spesh says a 20 point lead is a pretty good thing to have with only 6 races to go.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Agree that his lead put's him in a strong position I also agree about Hill's championship year, his performance at the end of the season was very poor. If I remember rightly going in to the Japanese GP Villeneuve was nipping at his heels despite a big lead mid-season.

One major problem I see for Button is that he has no point of reference for his current situation. He won titles in karting and Formula Ford but his experience in the feeder formulas was very limited. He then jumped straight into F1 and, apart from some occasional successes, get used to driving round towards the back of the field.

As mentioned before I think Spa will be a tipping point. If he does even reasonably well I think he could be set for the title, a bad race and he could be in trouble for the run in.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
A side question is, if Webber or Rubens take the title (with less wins than Jenson) will this vidicate the decision not to have a medal system or will it re-inforce in the eyes who run the sport, the need for one?

I can see it all going south for Button if the gap gets down to less than 10 points. As you say FB, Jenson has never been in this position before so it's a big question as to how he will handle it from her on in. The other big problem he has is that he hasn't got backup for a team mate he has a rival so he has to be on his gaurd from the moment he enters the circuit to the moment he crosses the line.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Right.........I'm going to have to disagree to agree with both FB and C-a_t on a few points.

FB you say JB has no point of reference for his current situation - I'm afraid I beg to differ, 15 races, 7 wins and he still won the title by 15 points in last winning season in Formula Ford (yes I know he tooled round in the midfield in F1 for a long time but you still don't forget how to win.) I personally think Spa will be dreadful for the Brawn Team, low track temp etc but I think it will be worse for RBR, one car fearful of blowing an engine and the other not so good in the rain ;)

C_a_T I'm afraid I disagree too on a few points, IMO it's trulli ;) now a fight between the Brawn drivers, yes if Mark can get within 5 points then they might decide to favour either Jens or Ruebens but..........RB is on a year by year contract, i.e. out by next year and JB's is leading with an "unspecified" contract in a "British" team with a British manager........Conspiracy theory I know but.......

That and Lewis will come 3rd ahead of Webber anyway!
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
I hope that Jense will be able to step up and handle the pressure. After years of being in mostly rubbish cars, this chance will not go begging for him.

Looking at the only season he had a decent cars, he came 3rd in the championship, if it wasn't for the red monsters, he would have had the WDC that year (2004), but unfortunately, Ferrari had produced a car that was bulletproof and easily the fastest car on the grid all year.

Jense has always been a driver who could win the title, he has just never had the car. Ruebens is a good driver, but he spent years in a winning car and was totally outclassed for most of that time, only occasionally getting the better of his team-mate (although even sometimes when he did, he had to yield). Anyone who believes that Ruebens could have beaten Schumacher in a stright fight is quite simply delusional..

GO JENSE!!! :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Out of interest, has a driver ever lost the title with this sort of lead at this point in the season?
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
FB said:
Out of interest, has a driver ever lost the title with this sort of lead at this point in the season?
Bound to have been loads, I'll leave it to the men with the graphs tho ;)
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
FB said:
Out of interest, has a driver ever lost the title with this sort of lead at this point in the season?
I reckon that's one for Brian.

Not sure I can be bothered to go through 59 years of data to check :D
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
The only ones I could think of were 1964 and 1976. The issue is some what complicated by the "Best number of races count" rule but both those seasons saw significant changes in the lead of the world title and significantly the eventual winner of the WDC had never lead the standings at any point of the season.

With 4 races to go in 1964 the table looked like this:

Hill - BRM 32 points
Clark - Lotus 30 Points
Surtees - Ferrari 19 Points

The final table was:

Surtees - 40
Hill - 39 (actually scored 41)
Clark - 32

So in the 4 remaining races Surtees pulled back 13 points on hill and Clark scored just 2 further points

The results in 1976 were obviously greatly effected by Lauda's injuries which counted him out for 2 races and saw him only take one podium on his return.

With 6 races to go:

Lauda - Ferrari 61
Hunt - Mclaren 35

Final table:

Hunt - 69
Lauda - 68

So hunt pulled back 26 points.
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
Further to Button finishing 7th in Valencia, I think he was unlucky, but this was due to his own mistakes in qualifying in a way. If you watch the start, he got a much better start than most of those around him and was up beside Vettel. Unfortunately, Vettel came across fromt he other side of the track and tried to force Jense into the wall. The only thing Jense could do in this situation was get on the brakes or off the throttle. This he done. If this had been a track where it was actually possible to overtake without destroying your car, then Jense would have easily picked off those in front of him.

He tried to make a move on Alonso, but the man who shouldn't have even been in a car last weekend decided to "robustly" defend his position.

The problem was Valencia, not Button..
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
RickD said:
Looking at the only season he had a decent cars, he came 3rd in the championship, if it wasn't for the red monsters, he would have had the WDC that year (2004), but unfortunately, Ferrari had produced a car that was bulletproof and easily the fastest car on the grid all year.
That's non-comparable when we're talking about the pressure of the World Championship.

As for some other drivers who've won the WDC...

  • Hill's last 6 races included 2 wins and 2 second places, whilst in his only non-score Villeneuve also did not score.
  • Hakkinen in 1998 had problems in Hungary and Italy, he retired at turn 1 at Spa but won the other 3 of his last 6
  • Hakkinen's form late in 1999 was sporadic - but then again everyone's form all season was pretty sporadic!
  • Hamilton in 2007 clearly was to inexperienced to cope with the pressure of a WDC challenge and lost it in the last 2, but his performance in 2008 in China was exceptional and he was a safe 4th until the weather struck at Interlagos
  • 1976 is a moot point when talking about WDC collapses, there were clearly other forces at work - remember Lauda pulled out of the final GP at Fuji
  • Even King Alain Prost nearly collapsed from a WDC position in 1993 - with all his experience (Senna didn't put enough pressure on!)

However, I would rather be in Button's position than anyone else's. (well, I'd rather be in Ross Brawn's, not risking life 'n' limb but you know what I mean!) He looks like he's not taking the pressure but no-one wins the World Championship without a blip if they're not in a car that's miles faster than the field!
 
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