Is Jenson Button a trick diffuser driver?


Race Winner
I posted this a while ago an Muzz606 but as time has gone on it seems more relevant.

Now I know relative car performance comes into it and before 2009 he didn't have good cars except for 2004 but its worth a thought at least.

Now apart from 2004, Buttons best years have been 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2010 he won 2 races straight off the bat and challenged for the championship all the way to the penultimate race in arguably the 3rd best car. 2009 of course he won the championship and many including the man himself say 2011 is the year of his best ever performance.

2000 - 2008: The cars had normal diffusers.

2009 and 2010: The cars had double diffusers

2011: Extreme exhaust blown diffusers

2012: Back to normal diffusers again

He went from being known as an also ran on his way out, by many to being known as 1 of the best 4 drivers in the sport by probably the majority in the little 3 year period of diffuser tricks. Now in 2012 he is struggling again and at times its looked embarrassing.

Is he simply far more suited to having far more rear downforce than most years regulations allow?

The same kind of argument could possibly be put forward for Vettel as well but with not quite so strong a case.

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
I'm not so sure. Jensons shortcomings in car requirements have been well documented, however, I think there is more to his driving than a trick diffuser. The fact that his most prolific seasons have come as a result of this, I think is more to do with the quality and investment of the teams he was driving for at the time, rather than the diffuser specifically.

2009 was pretty much defined by the DD row, however, the Honda/Brawn car was about so much more. The DD got the press though, because of the controversy.

Jensons biggest issues, and a significant part of the reasons why he bloomed later I believe was more down to off track issues than on track. Maybe without all the contract mistakes and a better guidance as to how to handle himself may have seen things differently.


Valued Member
Good points... he is known for liking a stable platform... suffers when he can't set up the car as well as he would like... not in the LH "just give it to me with four tyres and let me do the rest" mold... and having matured and settled some off track issues / etc would clearly help...

I would add the following...

Q. What has been the JB's main problem this season ?
A. Switching on his tyres

Q. What was one of the key strengths JB was known for before everyone got their new boots from Pirelli this year (who had a mandate to introduce variability into the produce) ?
A. Being able extract and prolong tyre performance

I think JB is suffering from a double whammy this season... not only is he having trouble with setting up the car (SV is in the same boat as well... the "tinkerers and fine tuners" and losing out to the "get out of the way'ers and let me drive the bluddy thingers")... he has lost a key advantage that he had over most of the field...i.e. driver input into tyre management has been significantly eroded this season due to the characteristics of the 2012 Pirelli... so even on days when his set-up might not have been optimal he previously could have relied upon his judicious tyre use to juke it out for a top 5 or 6 place. .. now he is fighting to stay ahead of Force India or Toro Rosso down in 13th...


Rooters Reporter
Hmm, the OP is good question. Much has been made of Jenson's ability to look after his tyres. I believe, having followed him pretty well for most of his career, I have come to the conclusion that his tyre preservation comes about as a consequence of his smooth driving style. That is, rather than tyre management. It is also that smooth style that makes him such a good wet weather driver.

However, I think this season has exposed the flipside of his smoothness. HIs difficulty this year, to me, arises from his apparent inability to change his style in order to "switch" the tyres on - i.e. generate the right amount of heat and to maintain the ideal operating temperatures through the lifecycle of the tyres. We have seen only occasionally that he can turn on an aggressive style but it does not come naturally to him. The consequence of that is that it is all or nothing in that he does not appear to be able to increase the aggressive approach incrementally to reach the sweat spot and then stay there.

In my humble opinion it that is the key advantage that Alonso and Hamilton have over the rest of the field. Theirs is much more "tyre management" than "tyre conservation". They have both been able to better adapt their driving styles and, I think their car set ups, to the demands of the Pirellis. I would cite their respective most recent race wins where both were under pressure from faster cars right up to the checquered flags yet controlled the races in similar fashion - pushing when necessary but going just hard enough to maintain position and the lead.

So, did the DD and EBD help him? I would say "perhaps" for the same reasons others have posted above but in reality that is a question Jenson can answer better than I, methinks.
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