Were we all wrong about Jenson Button?

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Four races in and Jenson Button is doing what almost everyone* said he wouldn't be able to do - beat Lewis Hamilton.

He has out-qualified, out-raced and is currently out-scoring Lewis. The only area he doesn't have the upper hand is fastest laps where Lewis has beaten him in all 4 races.

The weather has played a large part in the four races so far this season, with most drivers having to make multiple stops to change tyres. Jenson however has managed to make the correct calls in both wet weather races notching up 2 wins, usually with 1 or 2 less stops than Lewis.

When it comes to dry races however it's a different story. Lewis has beaten Jenson at both Bahrain and Malaysia, despite starting 3 places behind him in Malaysia.

So, is Jenson simply showing what many suspected; that in a decent car he is as good as anyone else on the grid?
Or is it a case of Lewis not performing during qualifying as well as he usually does and making the wrong tyre calls during the races?

Will it continue in this vein or will things change as we move into Europe and a possibly largely dry set of races?

Whatever happens, it promises to be a fascinating battle, possibly the most intriguing one on the grid.


* Of the 19 playes in the Teammate Prediction game, only McZiderRed, siffert_fan, Cancer Cowboy and M88KE C tipped Jenson to beat Lewis over the season.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
It's a case of Hamilton not making the right decisions.

In China, he made 4 pit stops compared to Jenson's 2 and still only finished 1.5s behind him!

I would call into question your claim that

Brogan said:
He has.. .. out raced

since it's been clear to anyone watching that Lewis has made the strategies - albeit the wrong ones - work well for him by racing hard and overtaking more than anyone on the grid. By my definition of racing, Lewis has the upper hand on this one and given an identical set of circumstances as Button, I have no doubt whatsoever he would have made it work just as well as Button did in Australia and China, if not better.

It's still obvious to me that Lewis is the better driver, the better racer and the one who will be fighting seriously for the championship this year. The car is to his liking, he's moving through the field like no-one else and he has a team-mate who is going to push him further than Kovalainen ever would have.

With the updates planned for Spain, if McLaren can get their qualifying together, I can only see Hamilton progressing further than Button.

Oh and it's ever-so-typical that the moment Button starts to do well, the media goes back to "well well well! look who's an idiot eh? yes, that's right, Mr. Joe Public, you are! we knew all along you see :dontmentionit: "
and then it's all of a sudden back to Jenson's the best thing since sliced bread.

Good driver? Certainly. Two excellent victories? Completely. Does this prove he's better than Lewis? No. Does this make his move to McLaren justified? Not if after a few years Lewis beats the life out of him.
 

snowy

Champion Elect
It's early days but what Jenson is doing is optimising the car, the team and his own skill set. This is something he did at BAR in 2004, in the second half of 2005 and again with Brawn at the start of 2009. Jacques Villenuerve, Takuma Sato and Rubens Barrichello were all made to look pedestrian during these periods. The fact that these very quick guys very quickly got ejected after each of Jenson's sunny periods gives the impression that they were journeymen or well past their prime. Few were able to credit Jenson with talent since he was always making controversial and ill advised contract decisions!

Right now we are writing off his speed and talent because he hasn't been qualifying particularly well, hasn't done as much overtaking as his teammate and appears to all intents and purposes to have made some strategy calls that could have gone either way. Looking back on Michael Schumacher's career we can see that there is a particular phenomonen that affects a driver when he is supremely confident and at peace with himself. He makes his own luck, we can see when it starts to desert him, when it goes on sabatical and when it is in full on mode.

Jenson is at one with himself and riding a wave, will he fall off? Will he be pushed? Will he suddenly wake up and not believe his eyes? :o

Who knows what's about to happen?! It's exciting to watch a driver make manifest those qualities and unquantifiables that most in our secular societies prefer to deny or credit with material effects. And it is a very interesting contrast with the stark exercise that is F1 engineering and commerce. It's very human! :thumbsup:
 

snowy

Champion Elect
A lot is still being made about Lewis being much harder on his tyres, citing the Chinese GP as a prime example. Lewis made his last pitstop on lap 37 and Jenson on lap 38. Both drivers ended the race with totally knackered tyres, and Jenson's were so knackered that on lap 51 he went off the circuit. Lewis's lap times had fallen off a cliff on lap 47 and Jenson's on lap 49. Not a great deal in it I would say, especially since Lewis was trying to close the gap and Jenson had the slightly less tiring job of trying to keep his distance.
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
Brogan said:
Four races in and Jenson Button is doing what almost everyone* said he wouldn't be able to do - beat Lewis Hamilton.

He has out-qualified, out-raced and is currently out-scoring Lewis. The only area he doesn't have the upper hand is fastest laps where Lewis has beaten him in all 4 races.

The weather has played a large part in the four races so far this season, with most drivers having to make multiple stops to change tyres. Jenson however has managed to make the correct calls in both wet weather races notching up 2 wins, usually with 1 or 2 less stops than Lewis.

When it comes to dry races however it's a different story. Lewis has beaten Jenson at both Bahrain and Malaysia, despite starting 3 places behind him in Malaysia.

So, is Jenson simply showing what many suspected; that in a decent car he is as good as anyone else on the grid?
Or is it a case of Lewis not performing during qualifying as well as he usually does and making the wrong tyre calls during the races?

Will it continue in this vein or will things change as we move into Europe and a possibly largely dry set of races?

Whatever happens, it promises to be a fascinating battle, possibly the most intriguing one on the grid.


* Of the 19 playes in the Teammate Prediction game, only McZiderRed, siffert_fan, Cancer Cowboy and M88KE C tipped Jenson to beat Lewis over the season.
Bah, I missed the prediction thread.

I do predict that Lewis will beat Jense in dry races at first, simply due to them being mass sprints where experience doesn't come into it as much, but Jense will close that gap in the next few races as he settles more into the car..

Imagine, 4 races in, not settled totally into the car and still 2 races in the bag.. :D
 

McZiderRed

Champion Elect
Supporter
Brogan said:
Will it continue in this vein or will things change as we move into Europe and a possibly largely dry set of races?

Whatever happens, it promises to be a fascinating battle, possibly the most intriguing one on the grid.

I'm over the moon with Jenson's performance so far this season and OK, it can be argued that he "fortuitously" chose the correct tyre, but I do think that he'll prove his form so far is more than just luck... And even if Lewis does prove himself superior by the end of the season, I agree with you Bro that it will be one of the most gripping battles of the season. :)
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I think what this probably proves is that many underestimated Button, myself included. What it also probably proves is that his "feel" for the car in changing conditions is better than Hamilton's and that Lewis is too keen to take the teams advice rather than trust his own judgement. I still think in a straight fight on a dry track Lewis will be faster but when it comes to trusting his own ability in a race car Jenson has the upper hand.

Let's see what Spain brings.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
I think on a crap strategy, no-one is better than Lewis Hamilton. (See Hockenheim 2008) I think Jenson Button is excellent at avoiding the crap strategy.

Brogan said:
Four races in and Jenson Button is doing what almost everyone* said he wouldn't be able to do - beat Lewis Hamilton.

Lets not proclaim anyone victorious in TP just yet, eh?

If it comes down to a straight race against the field without strategies all over the place, Lewis should still get the better of Jenson more times than vice versa. Jenson has the experience to defeat Lewis in changable conditions.

It is the most interesting intra-team battle by a mile, but I predict #2 wins still!
 

snowy

Champion Elect
Everyone has underestimated Jenson's guts and his motivation throughout his career. We should re-evaluate his botched contract negotiations in the light of his most recent move. Although he was slated and berated it was clear to me at the time that money was not the prime motivation for his actions. It is even clearer to me now that he was seeking the right car and the challenge.

There are few F1 drivers who have deliberately gone out of their way to pit themselves in the same car against the driver recognised as the best of his day. It used to happen but more often than not in modern times drivers have gone out of their way to secure the opposite qualities in their teammate.

Ross Brawn:
"He also wanted to prove himself at McLaren against the guy who is probably the fastest and most naturally talented in motor racing - Lewis Hamilton. He's set himself a massive challenge and he is doing very well so far."
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
snowy said:
Ross Brawn:
"He also wanted to prove himself at McLaren against the guy who is probably the fastest and most naturally talented in motor racing - Lewis Hamilton."

That's strong praise indeed from Ross Brawn.

I'm surprised that hasn't been picked up on.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Not sure where to post this so I'll stick it in this thread.

A lot has been said about Hamilton's ability to drive around problems whereas Button needs a car which is set up perfectly.
Well now here it is from the horses mouth, so to speak.

Jenson Button said:
"Even if the balance of the car is not 100%, Lewis can be very quick. I need a car that is more stable than he does. When the car isn't right it makes me work very hard as a driver to get the car I want. In that respect Lewis is very strong."

http://en.espnf1.com/mclaren/motorsport/story/29282.html
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
A lot was made last season about Barrichello's ability at setting up a car. I wonder if neither Jenson nor Lewis are as good as Rubens and if Button is suffering as a result? That said, his season hasn't been that bad has it?
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Indeed, it is not as if he is halfway down the Championship hearing "Lewis. Is. Faster. Than. You." all the time, is it?

We saw at Monza what a Button with a good set-up can do!
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
To be fair to Button a lot of people said he was stupid for going to McLaren and he has more than held his own and is still in the thick of the championship and if not for Vettel at Spa, he would be really close to Hamilton.
 

Wombcat

Podium Finisher
McLarenSupremo said:
To be fair to Button a lot of people said he was stupid for going to McLaren and he has more than held his own and is still in the thick of the championship and if not for Vettel at Spa, he would be really close to Hamilton.
Undoubtedly Button is better of at McLaren than he would be at Mercedes.
 

P1

Podium Finisher
So I thought I'd bring this topic up again now the season is over.

Here are my thoughts:
1) Button had some extremely impressive performances such as Australia and China.
2) I agree with his own comments that he is very competitive in race form, but not in qualifying. In several races we saw him keeping up with Lewis. If he could figure out how to be fast over a single lap (like Lewis and Vettel) he could be a real contender
3) Tires do not play in his favor this season. His driving style is very different to others, but this years tires have not rewarded smooth driving.

Either way, my sense is that he is a top driver.
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
Batman,

Whilst I would agree that Jenson is a top driver, I still think that Lewis is a notch or two better, all other things being equal.
I do believe that Jenson's results have flattered him on occasions. Take Sunday for instance, when he was able to catch Lewis while he was stuck behind Kubica, making his relative performance look better than it actually was. Lewis's fastest lap was nearly 4 tenths better than Jenson's, which if repeated over the race diastance would have put them about 20 seconds, or a pit stop, apart.
 

Grizzly

Bear
Contributor
I've never doubted him as a good driver, so no I've never been wrong :D I have cringed during many of his qualifying runs this year and last, but he's certainly not the only person to struggle with these tyres on short runs. I should say nearly half the field has at some point not managed to fully exploit the out lap, quick lap, in lap scenario with the past years slicks.

In all his seasons in F1, i think (without looking them all up) only twice (might be 3 inc. this year with Lewis, and possibly his biggest defeat) has he been beaten by his team mate.

Many drivers have come and gone in the last 10 years and he has never been displaced by them. Indeed in the mid 2000s he had at least two teams fighting over him and that speaks volumes on what the people inside F1 think of Button.

Raw pace wise, i think anyone would be hard pushed to beat Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel, they are almost certainly the fastest drivers in many situations, but we all know racing is not just about being fast, as Vettel did his best to prove all year long by not completely dominating from day 1.

I will even stick my neck on the line and go so far as to say that, behind Alonso, Button could well be the second most complete driver on the grid if only he can overcome his fragility when the car is not working to his liking. This is where Alonso and Hamilton currently make so much difference in being able to just jump in and thrash the damn thing in a Senna esq fashion
 
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