Button edging Hamilton, Alonso thrashing Massa: team mates so far

2011 F1 season

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Hamilton hasn't beaten Button since the Nurburgring

With half-a-dozen races left in 2011, which drivers hold the upper hand in their team?

And which are glancing enviously at the other side of the garage?

Here’s how the team mates stack up with the end of the season in sight.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quite closely matched in 2010 but that hasn’t been the case this year.

Webber started the year some way off Vettel’s pace. But as he has improved his performance on the new tyres the gap has reduced. When we compared the performances of team mates earlier this year Webber was often making an extra pit stop per race compared to Vettel – that is no longer the case.

But Webber is still lagging behind in some areas, particularly starts. He has made a net loss of 20 places on the first lap this year, the worst of any driver.

Telling stat: The two Red Bulls have been on the track together for 729 laps this year, and Vettel has been ahead for 661 of them.


Lewis Hamilton has never ended a championship behind his team mate in the standings.

But with six races to go Jenson Button holds a nine-point lead over his team mate. He has been the highest-placed McLaren driver in the last three races.

Will Button sustain his advantage and inflict Hamilton’s first defeat from a team mate over a full season in F1?

Hamilton has generally been the quicker of the two, and if he can cut out the mistakes that have plagued his season over the final half-dozen races he has a solid chance of coming out on top.

Telling stat: Hamilton is 10-3 up in qualifying but his advantage is a much slimmer 5-4 in races where both have finished.


No contest at Ferrari

Ferrari continue to insist they will honour Felipe Massa’s contract for 2012.

Which is as clear an indication as we are likely to get that the team want nothing more than a seat-filler who will not destabilise Fernando Alonso.

This cost them second place in the constructors’ championship last year and may do the same again this year as Massa has consistently failed to get close to Alonso’s single-lap or stint performance.

Massa’s had some misfortune with slow pit stops but that alone does not explain the huge points gap between him and Alonso.

Telling stat: Alonso has more than double Massa’s points total with 172 to 82.


Schumacher is faring better in his second year back

Nico Rosberg still holds the upper hand at Mercedes, though not as decisively as he did last year.

Michael Schumacher had strong races in both Spa and Monza. Rosberg’s elimination from the latter at the first corner allowed Schumacher to close the gap between them to just four points, setting up an intriguing contest over the final races.

The next race will be a particularly telling indicator of Schumacher’s revival, as he had a tough race in Singapore last year.

Telling stat: Rosberg has reached Q3 in every race but Schumacher has missed out five times (once due to a wheel coming off).


Renault dropped Nick Heidfeld two races ago and it seems he wasn’t out-performing Vitaly Petrov by the margins they wanted him to.

In particular, Petrov out-qualified him eight times in eleven races. Heidfeld accumulated three points more than Petrov, but that clearly wasn’t enough for a driver who was expected to be a team leader.

Bruno Senna has been with the team for the past two races but it’s rather early in the day to draw comparisons between him and Petrov, especially as both have been involved in first-corner collisions.

Telling stat: Heidfeld finished ahead of Petrov in five of the seven races where both finished.


Williams have found much of their operation wanting this year and already have new engines and designers in place for 2012. Should they do the same with their drivers?

Pastor Maldonado has acquitted himself well in qualifying but tended to drop back in the races.

It seems as though Rubens Barrichello is not beating his team mate by the kind of margin someone with his experience should be. But in the FW33 Williams have produced their worst car in a long time – perhaps ever – which makes it difficult to judge.

Telling stat: Maldonado’s average starting position is slightly better than Barrichello’s, but Barrichello finishes two places ahead on average.

Force India

Di Resta has spent more laps ahead of Sutil

Adrian Sutil is another driver who had a troubled start to the year but has clearly progressed as he’s become more familiar with the new tyres.

Having taken a battering from rookie team mate Paul di Resta in qualifying earlier on, Sutil has begun to restore the balance. He has brought the car home consistently as well.

But with Nico Hulkenberg waiting in the wings and Force India not taking a decision on their driver line-up until December, how this battle is resolved could decide who gets a drive in 2012.

Telling stat: Di Resta leads 8-5 in qualifying but Sutil has more points.


Sergio Perez continues to go from strength to strength and has out-qualified Kamui Kobayashi for the last four races in a row.

But as the competition in the midfield intensifies both are finding it increasingly difficult to bring home points.

Telling stat: Kobayashi scored 25 points in the first seven races but only two since then.

Toro Rosso

Alguersuari has scored points from 18th four times

Like Sutil and Webber, Jaime Alguersuari has been on an upward trajectory this year as he has found his way with the new tyres.

In Alguersuari’s case, this has meant concentrating on race set-up at the expense of qualifying performance. As a result, he’s started 18th and gone on to finish in the points on four occasions this year.

He and Sebastien Buemi have repeatedly swapped places in the drivers’ championship. One of them needs to cement an advantage to ward off the threat from Red Bull Development Drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Telling stat: Buemi has made a net gain of 22 places on the first lap of races in 2011, more than any other driver.


Kovalainen holds sway at Lotus

Jarno Trulli’s struggles with his power steering this year have been well-documented. He’s only beaten Heikki Kovalainen twice in qualifying this year and has been half a second off his team mate on average.

However he has retained his place at the team for next year.

Telling stat: Kovalainen has retired from more races due to mechanical failure than any other driver.


Vitantonio Liuzzi was never troubled by Naran Karthikeyan during their brief association. Daniel Ricciardo has shown promise and is eager to out-strip this former Red Bull Development Driver.

Telling stat: Karthikeyan is the only driver to have started more than one race in 2011 yet never out-qualified his team mate.


The experienced Timo Glock has Jerome D’Ambrosio comfortably handled

Telling stat: Glock’s average margin of 0.611s over d’Ambrosio in qualifying is the largest of all the active team partnerships in 2011.

Which drivers have particularly impressed you this year? And who do you think should be doing better against their team mates? Have your say in the comments.

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Images © McLaren, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Daimler, Force India F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Team Lotus

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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131 comments on “Button edging Hamilton, Alonso thrashing Massa: team mates so far”

  1. Lewis is better than Button. And Lewis will finish ahead of Button. But Lewis can still learn from Button. Lewis should not always try to overtake; rather, he should look after his tyres more. He has crashed out too much: F1 simply doesn’t reward overtaking. It’s almost always better to sit back and save your car and tyres. If Lewis just cuts out the mistakes, born of frustration at having a car incapable of winning the WDC again, and finish races, then he should finish the year strongly. To finish second this year is almost as impressive as winning it, given the performance of the RBRs…

    1. I think one of the things Hamilton would be well advised to glean from Button is a bit of relaxation and patience for a race to give you chances – he could have hung back a bit behind Schumacher in Spa, after trying a few laps, reconsider, safe tyres and fuel, wait for a mistake, like Button did, instead of attacking without result, and fight another lap and another driver, later in the race.

      1. Lewis can’t think what he’ll do 2 laps from a certain point in time. He’s very impulsive and ends up in situations like Montreal and Spa. A great driver just doesn’t do that. He still has a lot more to learn. Just like Vettel

      2. Or indeed try to keep the tyres good enough to get ahead in the pitstop.

      3. i dont think hanging on behind would’ve helped. He wouldve finished much lower that way. Atleast after passing Michael he got close to alonso if not passed him. IF he had waited behind, he wouldve stayed behind. Also, Button just took advantage of the lewis-michael confusion. So it’d be unfair to compare lewis to button based on that overtake.
        But I really think Lewis displayed maturity in the last race. He was calm (maybe a bit too much, but that is better than a retirement), finished in damage limitation and was decent with the press instead of making some racist joke. I think that counts.

        1. Button took advantage of the confusion with Hamilton, but his pass on Schumacher was just a solid overtake, helped by fresh tyres and that Schumacher was just losing his badly. Had Hamilton saved his tyres for a later attack (after, say, 5 laps of first being behind him) he may have got past sooner, but I’m not sure. Button did great, but I’m not sure if in that case Hamilton would have particularly benefited from hanging back.

          1. I don’t understand why people were and are so quick to suggest that Button had fresh tyres when making his overtake on Schumacher.

            All of the drivers on soft tyres were quickly approaching the end of their first stint when Button made the overtake on Schumacher.

            One could reasonably establish that Schumacher’s tyres were approaching “the cliff” as he essentially confirmed this himself and pitted at the end of the same lap but suggesting that Button had fresh tyres is just plainly wrong.

            Button said himself post-race that he had to take a quite a lot out of the tyres to get into the DRS window behind Hamilton. Prior to doing so he spent at least 10 laps outside of the DRS window whilst lapping at essentially the same pace as Hamilton and Schumacher in front of him.

            Using DRS down the straights gave a benefit of at least half a second per lap so Button had to make up that time defecit in the corners just to maintain the gap, never mind to close it.

          2. Fresh probably wasn’t the best word, but less-worn. It takes more out of the tyres driving in somebodies wake, especially if you are moving around aggressively for so many laps trying to overtake. Button hadn’t endured that so his tyres were in a way ‘fresher.’ He did a few laps in dirty air when he caught Hamilton, but he had been nowhere as close and for nowhere near as long so hadn’t taken as much out of his tyres.

      4. I think he was too patient with Schumacher in Italy… However he needs to work his “timing”, because it’s quite clear that he is one of the best drivers out there and he’s getting too many incindents because he needs to overdrive to beat a superior machine, Vettel fails less this years because his car is too good, ‘memba him last season?

    2. Please.

      If this year has shown anything Button has consistently been better than Hamilton.

      He keeps a cool head and drives a smooth consistent race, he doesn’t rage along like Hamilton bouncing off every car just to get round corners.

      The last race proved it, Hamilton was wasting his tyres trying to pass Schumacher and Button just held back and watched them scrap then breezed past them when he had enough of waiting.

      1. All of which will probably earn Button a magnificent 4th or 5th place by the end of the season.

        It’s been a bad year for Hamilton and a good one for Button, who has been a better driver overall, relatively speaking (to their actual talent). But many of Hamilton’s mistakes stem from the fact he’s far less willing to accept not being first, even when the chilling reality is that Vettel plus Red Bull car is simply uncatchable.

        Hamilton will finish ahead on points, though, I expect, only 9 points behind with so many mistakes says everything.

        1. Well, Button lost 20 points at least through no fault of his own which goes some way to explaining the relatively small gap…

          1. Mclaren failed Button at Silverstone and Nurburgring. He would have been on a secure 2nd place in the driver’s championship.

          2. Hamilton was short fuelled at Silverstone, failed to him out in time at Monte Carlo or Monaco, called him in for the wrong tires at Hungary, pit crew messing him up in Turkey, his teammate crashing him into the wall in Canada…… It took a DNF and 4th finish before Button could overtake Lewis in the last 2 races… I feel if Lewis finish the next 6 races he would be ahead on Button

    3. Lewis is better than Button.

      Button’s got nine World Championship points that say otherwise.

      1. The season’s not over yet and 9 points is a tiny amount under this current points system, and Hamilton beat Button last year.

        1. And, and, and….. he isn’t beating him this year.

          Yes that may and arguably is likely to change. But Button has been the greater driver so far.

          Don’t consider buts, if you do you’ll be arguing forever.

        2. Vettel is the man to catch. Who cares which driver is “better” at McLaren? It’s all relative.

      2. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be blunt, but that is one of the stupidest rationals for an argument I have ever seen.

        Lets pretend that Jenson retires form the Singapore Grand Prix and Hamilton scores more then 9 points.
        Oh hello, now Lewis is better.

        There is more to a driver’s level of ability then the amount of points they have scored in the current season.

        1. There is more to a driver’s level of ability then the amount of points they have scored in the current season.

          Yes, there is. There have been only three occasions when Hamilton has been behind his team-mate in the championship standings. There is now, obviously, and two others: Monaco 2007 and Spain 2010. Hamilton usually has the upper hand over his team-mate by the end of May. It’s now September. Hamilton has never been in this position: until this, he has always been in front of his team mate going into the final leg of the season.

      3. Well, I think Hamilton’s a better driver, but Button has completely outdriven him this season.

        I genuinely thought that Hamilton would ease to victory against JB this year, but Button has been mightily impressive.

      4. So you will change your mind if Lewis finishes ahead? Or Lewis was better than him 3 races ago? By your perspective we can assume bluntly that Lewis is better than Alonso once the Spaniard was beaten by rookie Lewis?

    4. Agreed the numpties have now learned how to drive the car in the 2011 config. Overtaking them will be risky as they are not scared of contact with Hamster. Hami will have to adopt more of the Button “let the situation unfold strategy during the races”. As even the likes of Schumi want to make a name for themselves by defending against Lewis.

      1. Are you new to F1? Schumi already has a name for himself… 7 WCs, 91 wins, shall I go on?

        Defending hard against Hamilton is just an example of Schumacher’s style – see it in any battle he ever has on track

        1. 7 WCs, 91 wins, shall I go on?

          Sure you can, but only if he can once in his life finish ahead of Nico in the standings.
          : )

          1. Point is, Michael is a much bigger name than Lewis Hamilton, thanks to his past success.

          2. @Ken “As even the likes of Schumi want to make a name for themselves by defending against Lewis.”
            Funny joke.

            Even at his comeback Schumacher still the highest paid athlete among the F1 drivers: http://www.therichest.org/sports/forbes-highest-paid-athletes/
            And he was the top 2 highest paid athletes tied with first place Tiger Woods around $80 million in 2004

      2. even the likes of Schumi want to make a name for themselves by defending against Lewis.

        Funny! :D
        bet michael must be ROFLing. :D

      3. Wow, Shumi make a name by beating Hami?? Oh my…:)

    5. Well said. Although i’m not sure if I agree with saying Lewis is better than Jenson. That’s purely subjective and both drivers possess qualities that serve them well in different situations. Finishing ahead of Ferrari is about the only icing on the cake they can hope for really.

  2. Button is was a far better driver than Hamilton this season. I really hope he will finish 2nd in the driver’s standings. He deserves it. IMHO it’s his best season yet !

    1. Yeah, he’s been quality this year, and arguably driven better than in his championship year.

      I would say the same for Alonso.

      1. It’s a sad reflection on the 2011 F1 regulations that a driver like Button can be ahead of a driver like Hamilton in the standings.

        More than ever the current rules (i.e. skewed points scoring system, artificial tyres and artificial overtaking assists) punish proactive drivers and reward bland drivers.


        1. Under the last 2 points systems, Button would still be ahead.

          Jenson Button is probably not the most “proactive” driver in the field, but Lewis Hamilton doesn’t have a god-given right to beat him or anyone. So it’s not “sad” that if a driver underperforms or makes mistakes, then that it show in the points standings.

          I would consider it “sad” if a driver who was nothing short of phenomenal in his first two seasons never recovers his form. But like Vettel last year, he has to figure out how to get out of this rut.

    2. I think there are a few short memories around here! Button has clearly been better for the last 3 races but I am not so sure over the whole season so far. Button does have more points, yes, and I agree this is his best season yet, his drive in Canada being a highlight.

      But think back to the Grand Prix earlier in the season. After Spain, I think Hamilton was clearly the best McLaren had. He had made tactical mistakes (Malaysia was a mess), but he finished out front of Button more often than not. Then Monaco and Canada came along, he made some stupid errors (on and off the track) and lost his way.

      So I am inclined to think they have both had their phases of brilliance which will mean they are, over a season, pretty much even. The key point is that I believe that Button’s periods of brilliance coincide with Hamilton’s periods of silliness. Or, in other words, Hamilton is being defeated by himself.

  3. Jenson Button is a far more better driver than Lewis Whamilton. He’s proved it many times like the pass on both Lewis and Schuey in Italy. But Alonso and Schuey are the two best Drivers out there… Vettel is proving himself to me, that pass on Alonso in Italy was awesome.

    1. Alonso? Lots of huff and puff, battling against the odds in a rubbish team and with only one bit-to-slow team mate to do everything for him. He needs a peloton, as Montezemolo never tires of complaining (three cars for Ferrari at least! and tractors for the rest!). Life is tough in Alonso-land.

      1. David BR? Lots of huff and puff.

    2. Bottom line……..Jenson will only win another WDC for Mclaren, if they can produce a car that far outpaces the competition. Lewis though can win another WDC, if he has a car that can be competitive at the front, whereas Jenson can’t!

      1. That’s it. Actually I’d pick Ferrari over McLaren as best car in 2008 when Lewis won his championship…

        1. However the Mclaren was more reliable in 2008, and was marginally faster in 2007.

  4. For McLaren it’s quite simple this year:
    Qualifying pace of Hamilton is simply better. In race pace, he is also ahead, but only just. I’m a Button fan, but I have to admit, despite Jenson is driving better this year than he has before, Hamilton is faster. But faster doesn’t mean necessarily better. The impatience, errors, some wrong decisions (and perhaps the frustration that he once again doesn’t have the fastest car) means he is behind Jenson in the table (but we must not forget that Jenson had twice a DNF due to mecanical problems this year). If Hamilton can sort these things out, he will be the better driver. But at the moment, in my opinion, they’re almost completely equal in performance.

    1. I’m a Hamilton fan, but I’ve really warmed to Button again after years of disappointment (I can remember his electric start in his first GP – I think! – and thinking this was it! A young Brit driver about to storm the field. Much like Ham in his first and second seasons). It’s a real pleasure to see his cool style pay off after mid-race, and his overtaking is often sublime, so well judged you hardly notice. The Schumacher pass at Monza was his best yet.

      I really think Hamilton does have to up his game, not to beat Button though, but Vettel (and Alonso, despite my slightly tongue-in-cheek tease above). That means more concentration on racing as a whole, like Alonso and Schumacher (and Button). Vettel will do the same too. In mitigation, Hamilton’s mistakes this year were compounded by team errors at Monaco etc. and his determination to push to the front has led to some tight passes going wrong (knocked out by Button and Kobayashi for example). In turn that put more pressure on him for the next races – because he really was still trying for the championshop. His passivity against Schumacher at Monza was telling: he’d finally given up the season. He (Lewis) should now really use the rest of the season to deepen his knowledge of the car and help develop next year’s, dropping the attitude of ‘give me a fast car and I’ll do the job.’ He could be waiting years longer to have the same level of car he ahd in his first two seasons. Time to rethink.

      1. Yes, seems that Button deals better with not having a car fast enough. Lewis will make less mistakes when he gets a car more even with Red Bull. When you do not need to push too hard you fail less, Seb was awful in the last two seasons but his car is more realiable and faster than rest of the field so he can drive more smoothly. I’d love to see competitive Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes from race 1 in 2012. That would be good for us fans and even Vettel would enjoy it once it would value his wins (even) more.

        P.S.: I’d love to see Schumacher driving a winning car.

  5. Massa’s form is truly shocking. I know some would like to believe that Alonso’s current 2nd place is all down to him and the car is rubbish but in reality Massa has just been very very average. An improvement on last year isn’t really saying much at all. Sadly Ferrari are happy to be a 1-car team and as soon as Perez has that second year under his belt it’ll be bye-bye Felipe.

    I know to just be in F1 is a privilege but where does Massa actually see all of this ending? He’s not going to beat Alonso, sometimes he struggles to beat even the Mercedes and after Ferrari are done with him no-one else is going to want him – they all have younger and/or richer alternatives.

    After the way he took his championship defeat and his accident I had huge respect for Massa, Then he gave up his one chance to win – on a very significant anniversary – for the glory of the Scuderia, which has since repaid him by leaving him out too long on stints in case Alonso wants to pit that lap instead and giving him another year to be a lapdog and keep a seat warm. You could say “if he was beating Alonso then he’d be getting the favours” all you like but does anyone seriously think that’s ever going to happen?

    A sad, sad way for his career to be ending.

    1. After his accident, he hasn’t quite been the same.

      1. Accident plus Alonso arriving.

        1. Exactly, David BR. It’s sad to see Massa go from near-champion to being Alonso’s stooge.

          Odd situation for Ferrari too: they seem to have decided that Massa is best used as lapdog for Fernando, even though that jeopardises competitiveness in the constructors’ championship, because they don’t take Massa seriously. It’s almost as if keeping Alonso feeling no. 1 is more important than winning.

          This makes me angry: if they’re going for a ‘team’ comprised of Alonso and ‘the other guy’, why bother having two cars at all. Alonso’s a great driver, sure, but why can’t the guy handle a bit of competition from a team-mate?

          1. Montezemolo was used to be the fierce defender of 3 cars team… should we call it exotic?

    2. I really am not sure what to think of either Ferrari or Massa.

      The car has certainly been a tad further of the pace this year, there was never a race where they looked like having winning pace. Massa is in 6th mostly for the car, I would say.
      But since 2008 and even more since the accident never has he looked like a driver to be hunting anyting down but his own and his teams mistakes.
      On the other hand, I would say he is doing a better job than last year, as there have been far fewer moments where he cocked up.

      1. Come on though, if it was the car’s fault that he was so low down, then surely Alonso would be as well.

        I think Massa’s had an awful year, he had four podiums last season, none so far this year.

        Alonso is outdriving his car, but I’m not sure Massa is even driving his car into the plkaces it should be.

        I’d love to see him do well, but I find it unlikely.


        1. Felipe was impressive in 2006 isn’t… he outpaced Schumi on more than one occasion and in 2007, 2008 he was on par with the Iceman on pure race pace.

          Who knows what goes on inside the fluorescent race helmet? When the 2010 season started, he would have genuinely thought he could beat Fernando…. and Hockenhiem would have been the perfect stage. I wish he recovers sooner than later and still finds a race seat beyond 2012. According to me, he is the most successful Brazilian driver in the current grid.

          1. Sometimes I really wish Felipe had the guts to tell Ferrari no and go on to win at Hockenheim. I think it’s one of those events that will go down in the great “what ifs” in this sport’s history: wondering where his career would be had he not stepped down.

          2. You do wonder what goes through the heads of those drivers who give up wins to help the ultimately doomed championship efforts of their team mates.

            Like Mika Salo and Eddie Irvine at Hockenheim in 1999. As it was, Salo never had another chance to win a race.

            The drivers who refuse to heed them – like Webber at Silverstone this year – deserve respect.

          3. I do not agree.

            I think it’s completely up to the driver to decide whether he considers himself more important than what the team asks from him.

            I think it completely depends on personality.

            I won’t give kudos to either of them. They just did what they felt right.

            Of course you do wonder where these ‘Massas’ are destined to go considering that F1 is ultimately a competitive sport. …But then you realize it’s also cooperative from a team point of view.

            Again, it’s completely up to them to decide which route to take.

    3. I feel really sorry for Massa. He was not the best driver in 2006-2008, but he was always there or thereabouts. But these last two seasons… there have been maybe two or three instances where it looked good – and then something happened, and he ended up in P7 or similar. He lacks the pure pace needed to deliver good results, and he hasn’t managed to impress in difficult conditions or weird races. Basically he’s like Berger in the late 80s/early 90s, expect he’s much slower.

      I’m happy to see him in F1 in 2012, but if he doesn’t up his game, I can’t see his career continuing past that.

    4. As much sad as it is, this is the exact portrait of the situation. I have no doubt some teams will want his experience, as has been the case with Liuzzi, Barrichello or Heidfeld, but his career is, sadly, over.

    5. It is sad. Aside from his accident he only really has himself to blame. As much as I respect team orders, sticking your neck out and not obeying team orders in that situation seems like a plausible way forward.

      “Well done on winning the race Felipe, especially on such an emotional anniversary. By the way, you’re fired for not letting Fernando win.”

      That would never happen and let’s face it, Ferrari couldn’t make life much more difficult for him anyway if he had done that, it’s already pretty poor!

  6. Alonso has been most impressive this year for me. Massa is not chopped liver, but Alonso has kicked his tail.

    I am really hoping that Ferrari provide a car next year that is capable of being on the podium every race. Alonso has the race craft to turn that into a championship with a bit of luck.

    I also hope McLaren do the same for Button and Hamilton. Its really hard to say which is better this year. Your analysis is great Keith, but hard to prove. Both have done well and suffered bad luck. A bit better car and they could be on the podium every race.

    And then there is Mercedes. I would love to see Nico win a race soon. I have never rooted for Shumi but would love to see him nearer the top next year. One more win would be terrific for this sport.

    Next year could be amazing if Red Bull does not continue to improve faster than everyone else. I really want to see what Vettel does when he is not running away with it all in the fastest car. I want to see Webber doing better. I don’t want to spend a few years watching Vettel effortlessly win everything in site like Shumi did in 2001-2004. I only half heatedly watched those races.

    If things go well in these regards next year we could see the most amazing thing when F1 comes here to Austin next year: 8 or more drivers with a shot at the championship.

    1. Vettel has done great come backs, like last year Silverstone after he was 24 after his tired puntured (sorry not english native) he drove back to 7.

      In the end every driver tries to do the best with the car they got. If Vettel were lossing after having the best car we will still criticize him.

      I do think Massa lost something after he was told to let Alonso win. Wonder what had happened to Vettel if he had done the same in Abu Dhabi.

  7. it is quite telling for a top team to retain a woefully underperforming driver for 2 years running, and even let him keep the seat for a third year. Ferrari still don’t seem to get F1 has moved on from the Schumi years, and that you need 2 top drivers to stand a chance in the WCC.

    As for the Mclaren duo, Button is doing better than Lewis this year, simple for all to see. Were it not for the 2 DNFs where he is totally without blame(as opposed to Lewis’ 2 DNFs where he has to take at least some of the blame) Button would have already emerged as the clear 2nd in the WDC. Lewis is faster over one lap, but Button’s got his number in race pace, and his ability to work the tires better makes him even faster on race pace. It’s true the pirellis have flattered Button, but that’s the name of the game in f1 2011.

    1. Ferrari would have been 2nd last year (and also this year) if Massa was driving anywhere near as well as Alonso.

      I agree about Button, one of the best this season no doubt.

  8. Its really interesting to see these team mate comparisons listed.

    The most important part that struck me was, how this comparison that should be easy (same car, same pace?) still needs quite a lot of footnotes (getting to grips with tyres, technical glitches, team mistakes, …) to get a full picture.

    I do think both Mercedes and Ferrari are further off the pace than they were last year. Or maybe its just Red Bull being more effective and not relenting much places in the top 5 this year.

    1. +1

      fuel level included would be a good stat too. Remember back in those days, when cars make a pit stop, FIA would publish the amount of fuel went in the car during that stop… It made us visualize the race strategies. These days F1 is getting more and more abstract. In my work, we call it it the blackbox :-)

      1. How does fuel level matter now when refuelling has been banned? All the drivers do their qualifying laps on fumes, and they all have just about enough to do a parade lap at the end of the race.

        Unless you mean in terms of starting fuel level and if somebody with a more economical style can run a more aggressive fuel map, knowing that they can compensate with their driving style. I don’t know if it’s possible for a driver to make a huge difference in that area.

  9. Doesn’t really matter who is better between Button, Hamilton, what matters is they make a good team for McLaren however i will say that Lewis needs conflict in his team to get the best out of himself i think. Whilst it’s a good partnership for McLaren i think Lewis would benefit from a less friendly and jovial atmosphere within the team.

    1. Yeah, it seems Lewis needs Alonso back as his team-mate. That would motivate him more even if they had to fight for 5th place in the championship. I think Hamilton lost any interest in racing for this season – what to fight for? The Championship is over, Vettel is grabbing all the records. Beating Button? pheeew…

  10. The qualifying stats between Nico and Michael is so overwhelming. It is no secret Nico clearly has the egde over Michael over a single qualifying lap and makes you wonder how tires play a significant role. Pat Symonds once told in his interview that Michael still doesn’t have a car which suits his driving style – He mentioned the car should be aggressive attacking the corners and the apex, but still it can be unstable at the rear. Michael was unbeatable during the Bridgestone groved period.

    1. I would argue that Schumi is driving better than Rosberg this season.

      1. I agree, for me Rosberg is over rated, and the worst thing is that he believes all the hype.

    2. @Icemangris, never heard that before from Pat Symonds. Interesting, you have a link handy to the interview??

      1. I read them in the F1 magazine dude… Pat’s interview was published in February or March 2011 issue.

    3. I think it’s a bit like Hamilton v Button. Hamilton is clearly ahead on one-lap performance, yet Button could get closer to him on race trim.

      I always argued that overall McLaren and Mercedes (and possibly Force India) has the best driver pairings on the grid right now, and to distract something from either Jenson’s or Michael’s performance based on one-lap performance is not quite fair, as I’m sure both of them would beat most of the other drivers on the grid, if they were teammates – bar Vettel, Alonso and a few possibly.

  11. I don’t see Massa as the worst comparison to a teammate but certainly do find Webber. He is 117 point behind Vettel whereas Massa is 90 behind Alonso.
    Given on average, Webber and Vettel more closely qualify than Massa and Alonso….

    It just does not figure form me….and I always thought Webber is an above average driver.

    Webber’s bad starts, don’t remeber he had them last year???!!!

    1. One difference between Massa and Webber, in my opinion, is that Webber has at least occasionally challenged Vettel in the races, whereas Massa always seems to be at least half a minute down the road from Alonso by the end.

      With regard to the points gap, you should bear in mind that Vettel is having a near-perfect season, and you get more points the higher you finish (e.g., if it’s 1. Vettel, 2. Webber, 3. Alonso, 4. Massa, then Vettel pulls a bigger gap).

      1. Massa finished twice in front of Alonso excluding Canada (Alonso had a DNF) if I remember well while Webber only once in front of Vettel…Maybe that had something to do with Massa’s better points difference proportion apart from the lower finishing points awards. Good point though, Adrian.
        Some of the f1 fanatics here could become real F1 driver managers….seriously.

    2. Webber did have bad starts last year- Valencia, Hockenheim, Spa and Monza are examples.

      1. Thanks for a refreshing our memory. I guess he was leading the championship at some point last year so it did not look as if it mattered. :)
        Here is an interesting suggestion: let Massa and Webber switch seats…

        1. Then we will really Webber head explode when Dominicalli tell him to move over for Fernando; because in Ferrari Webber will be for sure the number 2 driver!

          1. No problem for him, he knows how to “maintain the gap”… :)

  12. I find the McLaren situation quite interesting. Almost a carbon copy (in terms of the racing styles of the two drivers) of last year’s Vettel-Webber spat.

    Also, I find it VERY intriguing that Lewis does better with an even number on the car
    2007 – #2
    2008 – #22
    2009 – #1
    2010 – #2
    2011 – #3

  13. Massa and Webber seem a bit like a waste of space at the top teams. I can’t see them ever being able to challenge their team mate’s statue as number one drivers in the team. I think if Massa and Webber don’t improve dramatically next year, then they should be dropped for 2013.

    1. lol… “waster of space” is a strong word. I can’t speak for Red Bull… but we all know how it will go when Fernando’s team mates challenge him for equal status.

      1. waster ..waste

  14. Could have really gone into virgin’s team battle in more detail.

    1. I would have but there really isn’t much more to say on it. All the data is there for you to peruse if you wish.

      1. Yeah fair enough, guess there isn’t more to say than that Glock has annihialted him!

        1. really? not from what i can see. in early part of the season Glock was beaten by his team mate on more than one occasion.

          Glock has stepped up considerably of late, but his start was average at best.

  15. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quite closely matched in 2010 but that hasn’t been the case this year

    In points tally only. If you look at races both finished, Vettel held sway. I think 13-6 was the final score.

    They only looked close in points because of Vettel’s misfortune (Bahrain, Australia, Korea, Spain) or Vettel’s mistakes (Turkey, Belgium, Hungary).

    1. what about the 3 straight races where Mark out paced in qually and won, dont forget about MONACO.

      1. Vettel beat him four in a row before that, and six in a row after Belgium (extended to 15 in a row including this year).

        Webber is far from the “waste of space” I’ve seen people above describe him as. But last year he beat Vettel in just six races as sumedh said- the four he won, and the two that Vettel crashed.

        1. Given that neither managed to pass the other on track last year( ignoring Monza ) the battle they had with each other was in qualifying.

          The gap was 0.05 seconds overall based on Q3 times. https://www.racefans.net/statistics/f1-2010-statistics/#qualifyingcomparisongap .

          3 times Vettel outqualified Webber by less than 8 hundreths of a second( valencia, suzuka, korea ) and a couple of times by around 12 hundreths( australia, brazil ).

          Given that the weight disadvantage Webber has vs Vettel costs him around a tenth, I don’t think it’s unfair to say they were nearly even last year.

          Webbers bad luck was not of the same standard as Vettels, but IIRC he had:

          Pitted on the next lap in Australia as he was second and RB didn’t stack the cars, so came out in 5th.

          Had a slow pitstop in valencia,


          contributing to the collision with Kovalinen.

          Had to back off with an overheating issue in brazil and Germany, potentially costing points.

          Was run off the road at the restart in the Chinese grand prix.

          Had a gearbox change penalty at Canada, then was put on a poor strategy by the team.

          Had Hulkenberg not getting penalised at Monza, costing him the opportunity to challenge Rosberg for 5th.

          Had an incorrect clutch setup by the team in Spa.

          And had his teammate collide with him in Turkey.

          Vettel still would have finished ahead if neither had issues/bad luck, but it would not have been by the 63 points he lost with mechanical faliures.

          1. However, it still would have been greater than the 14 points it was, which is what sumedh may have been getting at.

  16. I think you’ve been a bit harsh on Sutil there. Yes Di Resta is doing well. Very well I think. But he’s still got a fair way to go yet.

    but Sutil has more points.

    Yeah, but it sounds more impressive if you mention the word double.

  17. It’s not as simple as many people would have it, consider that if not for Ferraris’ electronic paddle-board Massa would be a world champion. If in a couple of races last year Webber used the same pit-stop and tyre strategy as Button, Webber would be a world champion. It seems the Planets have to align correctly for any one driver to shine.

    1. a couple of decisions different fernando would be 4 times world champion.

      but sadly he isnt.

      If points all you points scored counted in the 80s(instead of bizzare top 11 rule) senna would never of beaten prost as team mates. and prost would 6 times world champion.

      If’s and butts.

      But it must be hard to take if your on the bad end of a close call, esp if your massa or webber and likely to never get that chance again.

      1. 5 times world champion i mean*

  18. I’ve said it before but I genuinely believe Bahrain 2010 is what killed Massa’s mindset. In wake of his accident he was able to out-qualify Alonso and looked great for a strong result given its a track he had dominated at. Then at turn one he loses out and Alonso, the new hero, goes onto win. Obviously the press and Ferrari then react accordingly and Massa’s accident is almost completely forgotten about. That, for any driver, must be sole destroying. But to have it against a man Ferrari wanted for years, who is regarded as the best in a crop of huge talent is shattering. Massa clearly still had his doubts about himself and has never had the result to be proud of and really push on. Alonso made himself de facto number 1 and Massa simply can’t live with it. Which is a shame given he is a proven GP winner in the correct environment.

  19. I get the feeling that in 2007/a bit of 2008, Hamilton surprised everyone by his willingness to try and overtake anywhere and everywhere. But as the years have gone by the other drivers have caught on; and now he isn’t having such a good time in terms of stellar overtaking.

    Sure he’s made some overtakes; but none of them have been “stellar” in the sense of his pass on Rosberg in Australia 2010, or audacious round the outside moves. He did one “stellar” move this year around alonso in Nurburgring but other than that IIRC it’s all just sterile out braking maneuvers.

    1. i think the new rules have more to do with that though.

      with drs, kers & the pirelli’s i don’t think there has been that many great overtakes this year.
      while we may see a lot more overtakes in total this year i dont think there will be any of those truly great moves which we will remember in years to come.

      this was one of my concerns pre season which has been proven correct. in terms of passing were getting quantity rather than quality.

  20. I’ve been interested in the Hamilton-Button dynamic for quite some time; and it seems to me that the approach Jenson takes to managing the race distance is similar to what Prost used to do; or what Fernando did in 2010. He would really just take it easy/smooth for the first 40 or so laps; and hammer his brakes/tyres/engine for the last 20 laps. If you look at the races where they both finish; Button usually ends up having better race pace in the final stint (except for when he is on a one-less stop strategy to Lewis; where he must save more tyres) than Lewis.

    I think on the balance of a race distance Jenson is now quicker; it’s just that the times that Lewis or Jenson does retire, it’s before this last stint when Jenson is putting the hammer down; and as a result Jenson is usually behind Lewis then.

  21. Lewis Hamilton is capable of outstanding performances but he doesn’t strategise while he’s driving. Too often it is all or nothing. Alonso and Button have spare capacity which allows them to think ahead while they drive.

    Webber is having a really bad season. I don’t know what’s happened to him. Is it just the tyres?

    1. Not tyres, I still insist it’s bad starts…

      1. Pretty dreadful, aren’t they? The best opportunity of the whole race to get some serious over-taking done and he fluffs it more often than not.

    2. I think it illogical to believe the driver, who is so busy at the controls, is the one to make the decisions. The race engineer and support team are all mainly involved.

      I remember well, several cases where the team told Lewis to go for it and the result weren’t pretty. The team is to blame in many cases where the pit stop timing, duration, tyre and overall strategy failed. Then it’s left to Lewis to, by all means, salvage a better outcome.

      The team is, in my opinion, there to aid the driver not cause him additional issues. Both Lewis and Button have suffered this but Lewis much more often. Mostly because he leads Button and priority is given to the lead driver.

      The following(behind) driver gets a better look at the strategy and often react to the lead driver’s mistakes. That may explain Button doing better. The drivers are great, car is great also, but a bit of a late start and team strategy and reaction are lacking most times.

  22. Lewis is ok, he will end up in front of Button eventually this year. Jenson is accomplishing Lewis…Lewis is in the learning process these days believe it or not…
    I am happy about Schumacher getting his stuff together…

    1. Me too, regarding Schumacher. He’s had a good couple of races recently. Fingers crossed for a podium before the end of the season!

  23. Lewis has been extremely unlucky in some races like Malaysia(tyre issues at the end), Spa(crashed less than 50% his mistake), Cananda(crashed less than 50% his mistake), Britain(fuel issues), Monaco(unlucky qualifying ruined the race), Hungry(wrong tyres ruined his race), Monza(MSC too fast on straights and blocking).

    That is 7 bad races out of 13, more than 50% bad races. No wonder Ham said 2011 feels like his worst year even though 2009 Mclaren MP4-24 was worse but still it would be shocking to me if Buttons finish the year ahead of Hamilton. Best of Luck to both Mclaren drivers.

    1. Luck is how you make it. Tyre issues are down to Lewis driving too hard and not thinking about the entire race. Unlucky in qualifying, that’s down to the driver deciding what risks to take. He chose to come out as late as possible to take advantage of the improving grip – it didn’t work out as some incidents didn’t allow him the opportunity to do his fastest lap. Fuel issue – again he outdrove what his car was configured for. Poor tyre choice in Hungary, it was also Lewis’ decision to stay or go against the team’s strategy, Jenson opted against the team’s strategy as he took a calculated risk to stay on the slicks. It seems this year Lewis is not clearly understanding how his car should be driven. Looking at the Schumi years at Ferrari, he drove within the car’s limits and extended himself when he needed to – like prior and post scheduled pit stops. Lewis needs to keep a claim head and read his car (and tyres) better. Jenson is reading the car’s capability a bit better at the moment and manages to extract the performance when he needs to – pity with his starts though. In changing conditions he is making Lewis look very average. In dry conditions, Lewis is able to wring ever last bit of performance out of his car in several laps but doesn’t have the ability to pace himself throughout the race. Lewis does make it exciting to watch, however, in more times than not this year the excitement he brings sometimes does not bring him the results he is looking for.

  24. themagicofspeed (@)
    19th September 2011, 22:40

    It is so sad to say this, but Massa seems to be on a downward spiral from which he will never recover.

    From 2006-2009 i was a real fan of Massa, and i was devastated after his accident. He was often a match for Raikkonen and in 2008 consistenty beat him. With hindsight, ’08 was the peak of his career. After losing the championship at the last minute of the world championship, i think it broke his heart and his motivation took a serious knock. I cried for several hours after that race. I think what happened there knocked the spirit out of him, and he performed noticeably worse in 2009 as a result. Then came his accident, and that further reduced his spirit and, i think, made him listen to fear.

    It says a lot that since 2008 he hasnt won a single race, and has been going steadily downhill. 5 podiums in 2010, 1 in 2009. This year – none. No pole positions since 2008.
    Felipe isnt a Ferrari standard driver anymore. Perhaps he would be better in Mercedes, or Williams. I like him, so i wouldnt want him to suffer the stresses of driving for Renault…

    1. In 2009, the Ferrari 660 was very uncompetitive compared to the Brawn and Red Bull. Massa’s performances were pretty good and he had strung together some good points finishes before Hungary (22 to Raikkonen’s 10 and Hamilton’s 9).

      1. By 2009 Kimi was more interested in the ice creams in the team fridge than racing. But nevertheless he still came away with a win at Spa once he’d had enough ice creams to keep him ice cold!!! LoL.

    2. Problem is that Massa had already reduced to being the number 2 driver at the first race – Melbourne, 2011. While managing to block Button into a frustration and causing Button to take a short cut, he then let Alonso through – knowing that Button will get a penalty and thus allowing his team mate to ‘leap frog’ the McLaren. He wasn’t thinking about trying to keep ahead of his team mate – like all competitive drivers do.

      1. massa did not let alonso by at melbourne.

        if you actually watch the replay, massa lost speed coming out the previous corner by running wide & this gave alonso a run.
        massa they defended the inside of the next corner to prevent alonso passing him but this gave alonso a better run off the corner & the inside line into the next.

        1. I would be interested in seeing the replay as I was watching the race on TV and live at my mate’s apartment situated at the end of Queen’s Rd. It seemed that Massa was slower after Button’s illegal overtake – which eluded me to thinking that Massa was slowing down to allow Alonso catch up. But nevertheless he did very little to mitigate Alonso’s charge considering both Button and Massa were several seconds ahead of Alonso during their exchange. I can understand the argument for Massa not to challenge Alonso so stringently compared to Button, but he could have made less errors that allowed Alonso to catch up and pass him. And the fact that he didn’t defend his position with the same vigor as he did with Button.

  25. Button will be ahead of Hamilton,Massa will still struggle & the battle of the Mercedes driver will be the one to watch.

  26. I think Lewis needs to be beaten by Jenson this year in order for him to learn and develop into a better driver. He needs to be beaten so that it convinces him that he does need to change his approach to his racing and to learn how to take more calculated risks. He needs to learn that you don’t have to drive the wheels off the car because you can, but because when you need to. He needs to take a leaf out of Jenson’s book on how to drive in changing conditions. He’s always talking about how he wants to be like his idol – Senna; Senna was awesome in changing conditions/wet races. Jenson is showing he can drive like Prost and Senna when the conditions require it. The difference between the new Jenson and the Jenson of old is that he seems to be able to get the car closer to his liking during practice. In his WDC year he was struggling towards the end of the season with his setup, which allowed Ruben’s to catch up. It seems Jenson is complaining less this year with his setups, but knows where improvements could be made – that’s possibly due to McLaren being able to deliver a car to his liking.

  27. I feel Schumacher is really refinding his form, he is looking very strong in race pace of late.

  28. If Lewis continues to drive conservatively like in Monza, he will lose to Jenson. It all depends whether he wants to continue to be the crash kid of 2011 or just stay on the track. He’s got to find a balance between the two modes.

    1. Poor Lewis, he can’t win! He spent much of the race behind Schumacher, desperately trying to get past him. He was probably more conservative than usual, given his incidents with Kobayashi and Button earlier this year. Can’t blame the guy for trying to adapt!

  29. Nice summary so far, Keith.

    Making for some great discussion in the comments. It’s highlighted just how much we should be keeping an eye on the McLaren inter-team battle!

  30. Erm..the bottomline is:

    Jenson is only currently infront of Lewis thanks to Lewis being well off form recently. Lewis has had more frustrations than any other driver thanks to all this media keep jumping on his back week after week. On top of that he is constantly penalised and treated unfairly (I say unfairly cos the steward investigations are inconsistant when it comes to investigating other drivers for similar incidents).

    Jenson is only infront right now cos Lewis has allowed it. Lewis too can play the safe game in order to beat his team mate but Lewis has not been worried by jenson one bit.

    As for monza – this was a typical jenson race – He was very lucky as massa and webber fell out of his way – then thanks to michael and Lewis fighting each other, button slipped through without having to work much….and then the ferrari fell back to him with a poor performing tyre.

    Jenson is one of the jammiest and luckiest driver on the grid who tends to get his results handed to him on a plate – Canada was a farce thanks to the numerous safetycars and double DRS zones which allowed the field to remain bunched up and button to catch up when he was over half a lap down.

    Jenson should count himself very lucky right now that his team mate is not on form – Thats the only reason jenson is upfront for now – Could jenson be near Lewis if Lewis was just like jenson…driving at his best?
    -NO chance…button would be humiliated again.

    As jenson himself has said recently: “If Lewis is having a good day he will destroy you. But if Im having a good day and he is having a bad day then he can be beaten”.
    -See..even jenson himself knows that his only chance of getting better results than Lewis is to hope that Lewis has his races ruined.
    -To me thats not something to be so proud off – beating your team mate only when HE is off form!

    Lewis will come back and be on top…thats a definate and when it happens..it will be funny seeing all these button-loving media overhypers return back into their cupboards.

    1. Sour grapes.

  31. don’t know what’s wrong wid Massa dis year…but one thing is for sure if he is to stay at Scuderia den he’ll have to uplift his performance otherwise bye bye….really fed up wid dis guy at Ferrari…. >.<

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