Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011

Whitmarsh: Hamilton ‘underestimated Button’

2011 F1 season

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Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011
Hamilton and Button battle for position in Hungary

Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton underestimated the threat posed by Jenson Button.

Button joined the team last year and this season became the first of Hamilton’s team mates to beat him in the championship standings in F1.

Asked by the official F1 website if Hamilton underestimated Button, the McLaren team principal said: “Possibly. He probably did, yes.

“Let?s be open about it. Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every team mate that?s come his way.

“Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie. He did the same with Nico Rosberg in karting frankly – and every other team mate on his way into Formula 1.

“He was disarmed by Jenson at the beginning and he probably thought that he was a nice guy, but he?d beat him. And he was probably surprised. Jenson on the other hand is of course also keen to beat his team mate but he would never do it in an underhand manner.

“For both drivers it?s true that there are no politics involved and both want to contribute equally to the team. Of course when you join a team as a driver and know that I have known Lewis since he was 11 you might question whether you would be treated equally.

“But all the talk about who is the number one driver in the team is media-made, as McLaren have always been a team that let their drivers race. That is our spirit and we remain true to it.”

Whitmarsh added: “for Lewis, by his own extraordinary standards, it?s been a disappointing year. Lewis expects more from himself and the world expects more from Lewis, so this season has been very challenging for him. There?s been a lot going on in his life.”

He said Button’s style leads people to underestimate him: “Jenson on the other hand is a person that is easily underestimated.

“You could ask whether he really is a fighter and whether he has the hunger, because he has such superb manner. Sometimes that might be a worry before you know him better, but I have to say that I know him a lot better now.

“You only have to stand back to see how hard he?s raced and how hard he pushed in Canada for his incredible win. It was raw determination.

“He has his battles with Lewis and wants to beat Lewis and that?s as we want it to be. I think we have a very good dynamic in the team because I know that teams can often talk about tranquillity and relationships in a team and put some spin on it, but I think that anyone who witnesses our drivers sees that there is genuine respect there.

“Even in the heat of the moment like in Canada where Lewis could have been easy meat for the media he showed extraordinary maturity and the way it was handled spoke volumes about the relationship in the team and especially between the two guys.”

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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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188 comments on “Whitmarsh: Hamilton ‘underestimated Button’”

  1. Hope this isn’t seen as a try to grab the headlines or to put pressure on Hamilton, because I think all the points he made are quite valid ones.

    1. Yep, he pleased both drivers – hailed Button and supported Lewis lame excuse for poor results (it’s all Nicole Scherzinger’s fault for me crashing into everything).

  2. But all the talk about who is the number one driver in the team is media-made, as McLaren have always been a team that let their drivers race. That is our spirit and we remain true to it.”
    Hello, “David, move aside for Mika”

    1. indeed……….

  3. Hamilton Destroyed Alonso, when was that exactly?
    oh you mean they had the same amount of points?
    only in the UK…

    1. Just leave it this way, everyone has their own truth. Can’t you see they even have let their drivers race each other…always…

      1. Maybe “destroy” is too strong, but Lewis was a bloody rookie while Alonso was 2xWDC! Lewis almost made it in his first attempt, that’s noteworthy Sir.

    2. No not only in the UK. Points aside (and Hamilton was classed as ahead for more second places) it’s pretty destroying mentally to be beaten by a rookie as you’ve just been crowned a double world champion. Alonso fled back to Renault and was clearly rattling during the 2007 season by the whole thing. It takes quite a lot to do that to Fernando Alonso. “In many ways” – this is probably what Whitmarsh meant.

      1. The 2007 season was a bad year for Alonso, starting in a new british team with a british team mate, almost a son for the team manager, who never acted as such. Saying things like “we were fighting Alonso” soon showed who was getting full support of the team. The british press made the rest… Despite that, Alonso was the last to laugh, in the podium in Brazil 2007, never a Ferrari win tasted so sweet… I mean, Hamilton is an excellent driver, and now better than before, but being realistic, if they were team mates back then in another team, they would have never ended with the same amount of points.

        1. that is a great point! ….if they were teammates back then in another team, they would have never ended with the same amount of points. Personally I believe that, Fernando is widely regarded as still the best driver today! There is a lot of symathy up and down the pitlane about the dilemna Alonso found himself in at McRons 07. He coulda been a 5 time winner by niow if not for the wasted year at McMicks.

        2. Yep, I’ve been watching F1 for over 40 years now and never enjoyed a race like Brazil 07. In 05 and 06 I supported Fernando but in 07 I would have hated to see hin win because it would have been a victory for McL. The face of the loathsome Ron Dennis when Kimi/Ferrari won was something out of this world.

          On the other hand, if I could erase just one GP from history it would be Brazil 08. After that, I stopped watching F1 for most of 09, for the first time in 40 years.

          1. I can’t imagine stopping watching F1 just because I didn’t enjoy the result of the previous championship. Ironically you missed all of McLaren’s worst race results in ages and must have tuned back in around the time they had come back on form.

          2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            17th November 2011, 2:47

            I agree with you… I’m 27 but I’ve been F1 for 22 years by now and I would erase just the last lap, not the whole race… but you can say fate brought the WDC to Lewis for the stealing of points in Belgium… It’s like finishing even. Even though I can’t imagine Massa as a champion not even in a nightmare

          3. Even though I can’t imagine Massa as a champion not even in a nightmare

            Haha. Some people thought at the time that Button shouldn’t have been a champion, but I think had Massa become champion it would have seemed very strange, and slightly terrifying.

        3. “if they were team mates back then in another team, they would have never ended with the same amount of points.”

          Complete and utter BS. Yes Hamilton was supported in the second half of the season after Alonso decided to blackmail Ron Dennis and the team fell out with him. But in the first half Alonso was clearly being favored. In Melbourne Hamilton was in 2nd and the team moved Alonso ahead in the pitstops, it was so blatant. And then at monaco, when Lewis started to hassle Alonso he was told to cool it down. You Alonso fans love telling half the story.

          1. Alonso decided to blackmail his own team after his team favoured Hamilton in the Hungarygate when he disobeyed the agreement made before qualy. He told the truth, unlike his impetuous team mate who never knew nothing about the Spygate (can you believe this?)

          2. after his team favoured Hamilton in the Hungarygate

            I don’t see how you discern McLaren showing Hamilton any favouritism in that episode.

            Hamilton didn’t slow down to let Alonso pass him in qualifying as the team had apparently told him to, so Alonso impeded Hamilton in the pits, so the FIA penalised Alonso and McLaren. Where are you seeing the McLaren “favouritism” towards Hamilton in that?

          3. Keith he was told to let alonso threw in the fuel saving phase as mclaren had split tactics. Alonso was to go faster in the fuel save to burn a extra lap of fuel, lewis was to do the reverse.

            Ferrari had done exactly the same thing with good effect in france. where kimi went flat out in fuel save to gain an extra lap.

            lewis was on a different strategy so should of let fernando passed. he was losing nothing by letting him by. It wasnt a race.

            Fernando’s response wasnt right. but it was no different to what lewis had done to him.

            Though many fans/journalists have chosen to forget or didnt understand the strategy to why lewis was to let alonso by.

          4. I acknowledged all of that in my comment and none of it proves McLaren “favouritism” towards Hamilton.

        4. I don’t buy it! Why should they pay Alonso so much money to destroy (in purpose) his career? Please!

      2. Lewis did amazing in 07. But he has never reached them performances since.

        so the whole ‘rookie’ element is irrelevant. If he had moved forward as a driver considerably since then, then it would be a good point. But he hasnt at all.

        What he had in 07 was consistency, what he currently lacks is consistency.

        He could do himself a favour and look back at what he was doing then.

    3. 2007-
      Alonso- 2 time, current world champion, 6 years in the sport
      Hamilton- 17 races, rookie year

      both on 109 points at seasons end. same car.

      1. make that 7 years in the sport for alonso (2001-2007)

        1. Didn’t he have a year as a test driver?

          1. @matt90 He came straight into F1 from GP2, and the year before that F3, both of which he won the championship in.

          2. Yes, he was a test driver for Renault in 2002

          3. @keithcollantine
            Do you mean Hamilton? We were talking about Alonso.

          4. @matt90 Sorry I misread!

      2. You can say what you want but after Hungary it was not the same car, not even close. Fernando’s was a jalopy with a McL livery. I am surprised that Ron didn’t put a limpet bomb under it.

        1. Damn funny man… but i guess in many ways McLaren lost an opportunity of a lifetime, and a driver of the caliber of Alonso for ever perhaps. I wouldn’t blame Alonso if he couldn’t get himself to join Macca to save his life for that matter. It was priceless to see Ferrari on top in ’07, especially sweet as in 4 races one man couldn’t score half a dozen points in what was the fastest car on the grid by a mile. To top it off, his team mate was bogged down by management, and couldn’t catch a break. Masterclass eh :P

          1. Nobel Prize Of Conspiracy!

      3. Not everybody has the luck to given a favourable drive in top car as a rookie. Some people had to start their careers at Minardi, regularly punching above the car’s capability. Also, some people had to serve as test driver and work and develop with the team over a number of years to become double world champion.

        Of course it took 6 years to do that, but hey, your boy wins the title in 2 years, brilliant!

        For the sake of argument, most people on this site rubbished Romain Grosjean when he raced for Renault a couple years ago. Now he’s a GP2 champion. So lets just say, once again for the sake of argument, that he gets Mark Webber’s drive next year…and ties on points with Vettel, would we all put our hands up and say that Romain destroyed Vettel and he is one of the best drivers to have ever sat in a formula one car?

        I suspect not, I can guarantee that most people will just say it was down to the car.

        1. C’mon, Outsider, don’t be daft. Of course we’d say he destroyed Vettel in the same car.

          But the actual odds of that happening? At Red Bull? Slim to none.

    4. Alonso was definitely destroyed in some ways. I think it was more destructive than Senna did to Prost.(Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Senna destroyed Prost, but surely Prost had been damaged huguly.) However I think it does made him more interesting character which is whom we knows now. Don’t you think today’s Alonso is not only more mature than that time but today’s Hamilton either?

      1. I think Alonso is more mature than in 2007, @eggry, but I think Hamilton isn’t. I believe if they were partnered right now Alonso would beat Hamilton, although it would be very close if Hamilton kept his 2011 errors aside.

        1. @Fixy Yeah, I don’t think Hamilton is more mature than 2008(I thinks he was slightly more mature than 2007) while Alonso is. This is not just about another Senna : Prost – Hamilton : Alonso argument. This is about Hamilton’s sustainability. even If there’s no Alonso, there’s still some drivers Hamilton should’t cope with them in the way he’s doing.

        2. Alonso is, after the blow to his confidence and world view he suffered from 2007 he has now grown a stronger driver from it.

          Hamilton is having a bit of a similar shock to his system now from Button not being beaten by him, I guess. I think he will grow stronger from it as well.

          1. I think he is showing signs of being grown out it looking at the Abu Dhabi race…let’s see him in Brazil…

          2. Lewis better come up the curve. Not since early 90’s did you have 7-8 top level drivers on the grid. If he doesn’t it is bye bye McLaren. On the other hand, Lewis himself doesn’t find himself too comfortable at the moment, what with a strong team mate. I wonder how it will go, whether McLaren will get another driver first, or Lewis will jump ship instead.

            One more thing which will weigh heavily against Lewis is his tendency to make silly mistakes. Like or loathe it, most of his DNF’s over the almost 5 years he’s been in F1 were by and large his own mistakes.

        3. Considering Alonso’s 2010 and 2011 season, I guess it would be close but in his favour, but Lewis is damn fast, Alonso said it last weekend.

          I don’t think Lewis will have another year like this, he will sort that out and be up there again.

    5. Hamilton Destroyed Alonso, when was that exactly?
      oh you mean they had the same amount of points?

      Hamilton did not ‘destroy’ Alonso. as you rightly point out, they tied on points. Hamilton was only considered to have finished ahead of Alonso on count-back. Hamilton had five second-place finishes while Alonso had four. If you want to see one driver ‘destroy’ another, look at this year’s standings: Vettel has 374 points to Webber’s 233.

      Of course, say whatever you have to say in order to convince yourself that Hamilton is not in any danger from Button, despite evidence – ie Canada and Hungary – to the contrary.

      1. @Prisoner-Monkeys

        I’d also add Turkey to that. Hamilton only beat him because he had a better strategy, as it turned out. Actually, in most races this year he’s destroyed his team-mate. He’s always at the front while Lewis is busy fighting his way through the mid-field and getting penalties.

      2. I think being Hamilton a rookie it was not expectable to be tied on point s with 2xWDC. Plus, he would’ve become WDC in China, but McL missed the time to pit him, then he chocked in Brazil and Massa gave a hand to Kimi letting him pass.
        A combination of bad luck and personal mistake stopped him to become WDC in 2007.

        1. Bad luck is when car mechanically fails you, not when you shunt the car… the car didn’t fail Lewis, instead he choked, big time!!! Nevertheless, he found himself in all the politics, not the right place to be for a rookie in a competitive sport like F1. Ron was actually backing Lewis, and i don’t blame Lewis for being selfish. No driver in any series is going to go: “no favouritism, treat us equally!” Also, if the team is backing you, you’re expected to better than the other guy in the other car of the team.

          Moving forward, Lewis has to rise above all this menagerie and get his act sorted, and soon. Button is good, and is only getting better with time. There are a lot of other drivers who are also clamouring for attention, and mind you, F1 never had it so good since early 90’s.

          1. Get his act sorted, soon, or else he’ll be replaced by one of these ‘other drivers’? He just won the last race!

            Just found this absolutely stunning quote from Alonso (apologies if it’s been discussed herem, been away): “At the next winter testing he [Hamilton] will be the only one I’ll be watching closely. The other guys can win if they’ve got the best car; he’s the one who’s able to clinch a championship with a car that’s not the best.”

          2. @David BR

            There are how many races in the championship? Precisely my point. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Lewis has to be more consistent. Oh yes, looksie, contract negotiation time…

      3. @ Prisoner Monkeys, obviously Whitmarsh knows they had equal points at the end of the season! I think he’s paid to notice details like that. ‘Virtually destroyed’ clearly refers to the psychological effect. On evidence, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.

    6. Whitmarsh has “Hard Feelings”.

  4. I think a lot of people underestimate Button. I think it’s fair that Lewis underestimated him to begin with. Jenson doesn’t come with any of the ego or extra baggage that many drivers have. He doesn’t get hyped up by the media or have the tabloids write about him in a biased way to make him seem amazing (although apparently it has happened in the UK before, though I’ve not seen any of it first-hand). He goes about his job quietly and does it well, getting the points he needs and always being in with a shot at the title. Last year he was supreme and about to eat into the leaders’ margin a bit more in Spa before he was taken out of the title race. This year he’s been the equal second best driver – along with Fernando.

    I like Jenson because he’s a genuinely nice guy, completely unaffected by his success, he’s not hyped, he’s not arrogant, he’s funny, he’s intelligent, and his style of racing is incredibly interesting as it always sees him finish at the pointy end.

    Some say he’s “boring” or “slow” or whatever, but it really doesn’t matter what he is when he’s achieving what he is. Actually, some of the stuff I read on Twitter has to be seen to be believed. It’s hilarious.

    1. Definitely agree with this: I have never had high hopes for Jenson, even after he won his world championship. But I have to say he has blown me away the past two years. Especially what’s going on in his head is remarkable: gently bringing in the points, not getting greedy, always remaining as cool as his mustache looked last Sunday. He has come a long way and I definitely think he is one of the most underestimated drivers in F1: Lewis, please watch you back (or Jenson’s back in most races)

      1. I completely agree, I was definately one of those that underestimated Jenson, but he has been simply superb.

        I am sternly not a McLaren fan but find myself enjoying Buttons drives and wins. The way he goes about his business is great. He is genuinely likeable and respectable.

    2. Some say he’s “boring” or “slow” or whatever

      He’s often been very pacy during Grands Prix this year, if not the only one on Vettel’s pace or catching him up. Not just in wet races either, as he’s particularly shown people this year.

      1. @Electrolite

        Indeed. Suzuka was perhaps the best example. The track suited Red Bull and Vettel, yet Button completely outpaced him and managed to get the overcut (?) on him simply through being faster.

        His best win was Canada, but I’d put Suzuka as his second best.

  5. Whitmarsh has got to start to learn when to zip it.. he comments often seem unnecessary and often does damage to the team dynamics.

    1. Yep, I would say we are going to get the third “I don’t agree what Martin said” by Hamilton in about the space of a week.

      1. I’m sure Lewis will complain, but not only does Whitmarsh have the right to talk about his drivers, but he also did so in a manner which didn’t offend either.
        Ah, also, he was asked it, he didn’t say it by his own choice:

        Asked by the official F1 website if Hamilton underestimated Button

        1. Yes, I recall that he was being asked the question strapped upside down to a board while someone poured water on his face. No choice, effectively.

          1. The other thing Whitmarsh could have done was to keep quiet. What then? Most of us would have still given him flak for not jumping to defend Hamilton. The fact of the matter is, the media would have taken the silence to be an affirmation nevertheless. What Whitmarsh did, is managed the situation somewhat. He lends a theory as to why Hamilton is struggling and is keeping Ham’s personal life out of it as much as he could, which is quite understandable.

      2. Lewis has already dismissed Whitmarsh’s statement, and rightfully so as being……Rubbish!

        1. @lewymp4 Got a link on that?

    2. I agree, what is funny about his remarks is that in one breath he describes Hamilton’s “disappointing year” then goes on to state an apparent underestimation of Button.

      It’s utter drivel, and any knowledgeable outsider can see that.

    3. Well, that might be a bit hard in an interview with the official FOM website!
      And if you look at the whole interview, its pretty balanced on the many issues they ask about. But the focus in Keiths article based on the interview is on the parts dealing with Hamilton and Button.

  6. “There’s been a lot going on in his life”

    That was enough. Why so many unnecessary comments Mr Whitmarsh. Lewis needs support right now and that comments are not very encouraging. Maybe Whitmarsh doesn’t want it to go unnoticed that Button has beaten Hamilton this year and making a Point(personal) there.

    I don’t think Button affected Lewis performance this year(maybe Vettel did). Lewis just had his own personal life problems that distracted him. Also was very unlucky at times and too many incidences with one particular driver(Massa) is also very uncommon and unseen in F1.

    BTW i have read lots of comments in different websites suggesting that Whitmarsh personally doesn’t like Hamilton very much and was against him being chosen as race driver in 2007. And that now Button is his favorite of the two and would like Button to finish ahead of Hamilton.

    I think there is some truth in this. And i hope if ever Lewis decides to leave Mclaren it is not because of Mr Whitmarsh but because of other reasons.

    1. Indeed. Hamilton to replace Schumi at Mercedes in 2013? I’m pretty sure Norbet Haug is a fan and Brawn would be the perfect mentor for Hamilton.

      1. macca1977 (@)
        17th November 2011, 1:36

        Yeah and hell is gonna freeze over the same day Lewis signs with Mercedes. Next team for Hami when he leaves Mclaren is going to be his neighborhood soccer team. The sooner the better !!

    2. Agree with you Vettel probably affected Hamilton. Button not so much. Although i agree Button was not blown away as i thought he would be.

    3. @jugnu

      i have read lots of comments in different websites

      Can you share some of them?

  7. boy oh boy yet another question about lewis and jenson directed at whitmarsh, and yet another long winded downer on hamilton.

    it must be the new craze. ar ethe media purposely trying to turn wwhitmarsh and hamilton against each other?

    1. @timi Of course not. Questions will be asked, Hamilton has had a dire season. I sympathise with him of course, but I expect him to pull his socks up.

  8. i dont think Whitmarsh has to zip anything apart from the obvious. If hes asked the question why not? Of course you dont have to read it.

    And yes only in the UK would we say a rookie, who scored as many points as a double world champion at the peak of his powers, destroyed him. correct.

    More importantly its worth noting that jenson has had career traumas of his own and not just for picking terrible teams or staying with terrible teams, signing and then buying himself out of contracts. Being outclassed by RALPH Schumacher and playboying it up too early in his career for many tastes.

    1. hey, whats wrong with ralfy. i thought he was very good to be honest

    2. “Being outclassed by RALPH Schumacher”

      Button was just 20 years old and in his debut year! Ralph was also a well respected driver at that stage in his career.

  9. virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso

    Hmmm, no he didn’t. And how did Hamilton underestimate Button exactly, did he tell Whitmarsh he didn’t rate him or something? Who knows. Isn’t it more that pretty much everyone underestimated Button and thought he’d be crushed.

    Just one more comment, if McLaren think that building the team around Jenson is going to win championships then they are mistaken IMHO.

    1. daniel (@clappy123456789)
      16th November 2011, 17:29

      excactly dude hams worst season in f1 and u can see hes got his mojo back button wont win the championship at mclaren if hams their.

      The facts are, due to a lot of unforced error, he is behind his teammate in points. But he has won 3 races, just as many, and has totally dominated Button in qualifying. He has even been 8 times on the front row, a shocking stat when you consider that a different team broke the poles record this year.

      1. Last season proves your point @daniel; Vettel was mainly dominating Webber and was unstopable if not for the reliability issues and a couple of driving errors which helped Webber take points lead at the mid-season.

    2. Well maybe Hamilton didn’t destroy Alonso but I think Mclaren and Hamilton did together. Whether you agree or not, I think Hamilton recreated Alonso by destroying him. If I like Hamilton, it should be one of reasons.

    3. if McLaren think that building the team around Jenson is going to win championships then they are mistaken, Spot on mate.. they need Ham for the Championships.

      1. Let us look at Hamilton’s WDC year. He had the fastest car by a mile, and yet he won the race at the last corner of the last race. Now Button’s WDC year. Button had the fastest car on the grid, and he totally decimated everyone, fact is a lot of people here called it boring. Button doesn’t make silly mistakes like Hamilton has been over his 5 years in F1. Button is more consistent with the results and finishes the race without shenanigans, as long as the car works that is. If you look at things from the team’s point of view, they absolutely hate it when a driver throws away a result in a capable to win car. Lewis while he is possibly faster over a single lap, he isn’t as good a driver overall as Jenson Button!

        1. Button is just another also ran, he can do it if everything goes his way or else he is lost.

          I really think McLaren are building the car more towards Button’s driving style than Hamilton’s. I feel Hamilton will leave McLaren in a few years.

          1. Button is a WDC, who competed for the title in 2010 and beaten LH in 2011. I believe LH is more talented than JB, but that doesn’t mean JB is an also-ran.

          2. I agree with @David-A

            Lewis is naturally faster and more talented, but that doesn’t make him better. Being quick is only part of it. You have to finish races and stay out of trouble, plus use your brain. Lewis only seems to know how to go quick.

  10. You could say that Hammo destroyed Fer, but you have to take many things into account. For example, half way the season, Alonso had his team racing against him, so those equal points have more value from my point of view.

    1. I think Alonso scored more points than Hamilton in the second half of the season? If anything it probably spurred on Alonso even more.

    2. Absolutely right, Carl27. It was Lewis and Ron Dennis against Alonso in the second half. If anything, Alonso proved that he was a fighter as he’s proving this season. Now he’s fighting the car, in 2007 he was fighting the team.

    3. Carl27, I think the “destroyed” thing was what happened to Alonso’s mindset early in the year. He would have never even had a minutes thought, that he double WDC who beat Schumacher 2 years in a row could be beaten by some rookie kid before this happened in the first few races in 2007.
      It really got him off course and it really took him a couple of years (until late 2010) to get over it.

  11. Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!


    I don´t see anything wrong with MW answer…

    1. Whitmarsh and Hamilton don’t seem to be getting along lately, do they? I never even considered that they mightn’t be fond of each other until recently. Ron was the one that employed Lewis, wasn’t he? I don’t think Martin likes Lewis as much as Ron did…

  12. There have been enough time and chance to think about this for Hamilton. We just need to wait for what would come from now. I have to admit Hamilton did well in Abu Dhabi but it doesn’t mean Hamilton is free from what he have been criticized this year. He still has to prove he gets better. We will see…

    1. Wait for what?

      At Korea Lewis had an exciting and fantastic duel with Webber, to finish 2nd behind Vettel.

      Abu Dhabi…Won after managing his tires well, and controlling the pace against a determined effort brought forward by Fernando.

      1. He can do drive fast and wheel to wheel very well but it doesn’t mean he’s very perfect driver. He was able to do it even in 2007. That’s not his weak point it’s just his strength.

  13. in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso

    I think what Whitmarsh should have said is:

    in many ways he and Ron Dennis virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso as I stood watching.”

    I’m sure McLaren will one day regret having let Alonso go.

    1. Didn’t Whitmarsh say Mclaren should deal with both of them much seriously before? I remember he said he regret what they did in 2007.

      1. Perhaps, Eggry. I don’t remember exactly.

        If Button can do so much with the MP4-26, I think Alonso could have done much more had he stayed on. He could have made it a really worthy title contender even if he’d ultimately lose to the Vettel-Red Bull might.

  14. Hamilton has nothing to worry about regarding Button – after the difficult
    season he has had (and much of it was not Hamilton’s making), Button only managed to top Hamilton by a small margin.
    Either Whitmarsh is a loud mouth or he is trying to force Lewis out of the team. See
    “Hamilton clashes with McLaren team boss Whitmarsh again”

    Whitmarsh must stop his incessant carping and political games aimed at Hamilton. I do really hope Hamilton leaves McLaren and goes to a team that trully appreciates his ability.

    1. And Button has had 2 retirements due to technical failures, or have you forgotten that already? Hamilton has only retired this year through crashing. If Button had 100% reliability like Hamilton then Button’s lead over him would be even larger.

      1. Button’s wins and points this season have been more due to luck than skill.

        1. To win, you have to finish first. Button has consistently delivered points finish while Lewis made some stupid mistakes, like finding Massa every other race. Button’s only undoing has been the team and the car, but he hasn’t let himself down really. If anything, everyone in the paddock really respects Button so much more as a driver than they ever did. Hamilton on the other hand… i bet he has regrets about not leaving as soon as Button arrived.

          1. daniel (@clappy123456789)
            17th November 2011, 0:55

            The facts are, due to a lot of unforced error, he is behind his teammate in points. But he has won 3 races, just as many, and has totally dominated Button in qualifying. He has even been 8 times on the front row, a shocking stat when you consider that a different team broke the poles record this year.

        2. Button’s wins and points this season have been more due to luck than skill.

          I can’t stand delusions like this.

          1. @David-A Oh but it’s true! All of Vettel’s wins have been down to luck as well. :P

        3. Jenson luck? Part of it yes, part of it skill. Plus, we can say Lewis was lucky in Abu Dhabi too.

          Sure Jenson is good, but I don’t think he’s better than Lewis. If McL gives them a car good enough to beat RB from the first race and keep it competitive throughout the season, I’d put my money on Lewis to claim WDC, not Jenson.

  15. A lot of people criticizing Whitmarsh. Not that i agree with him over everything, especially Spygate and Liegate :P However, one feels sympathetic towards Whitmarsh in his current disposition. How was he supposed to answer this question? Everyone can check points tally and see Lewis is behind Button, and in a team which is largely known in the world as team Lewis since ’07. So there’s no room to run and hide. What if he chose not to answer. How do you think it will reflect on Lewis, or himself for that matter? The answer is most of us would have been baying for his blood.

    Truth of the matter is, Button did get the better of Lewis. What held Button back from having a bigger gap to Lewis was team/ car. Both of Button’s DNF’s were result of car giving up on him. Lewis, no matter how much his fans point at Nicole or Massa, is up for some blame. He has been in such situations since he made his debut, where he threw away a great (potentially a race win) to good result (strong points finish). There are two ways Lewis can go about it. He can choose to ignore what he did, and not hold himself accountable and blame the world plus dog, which it seems like he’s doing. Or, show some signs of maturity (very rare with Lewis like he did around Indian GP), and learn what he must from such repeated incidents which more often involve him.

    Also, what a lot of Lewis fans dislike is the fact that Whitmarsh is pushing Lewis a little. It is Whitmarsh’s job for crying out loud. What do you expect him to do? Encourage a repeated pattern which has not improved any over 5 years? Of course, he didn’t actually put Lewis at a spot as yet. You do have to understand that Whitmarsh has not yet publicly denounced Lewis. One only needs to look at Patrick Head over the years to learn the difference. Then again, none of us know either personalities involved, so it is hard to get a read on the situation very precisely. However, in this case, i find myself agreeing more and more with Whitmarsh.

    Let the flaming begin…

    1. JackBrabhamfan
      17th November 2011, 4:47

      Are you serious? Denounce The second fastest guy on the starting grid 2011 by far? The guy has led the second most number of laps in 2011? And do you realize that jenson inherited the lead @ Spa and Suzuka due to team screwups (wrong tires @ Spa and incorrect call about a slow puncture) and we all know what happened in Montreal! Plus Malaysia (early tire change and v slow pitstop gutted possible Lewis’s second place ), fueling issues in Britain (race) and Singapore (q3), poor q3 management in Monaco, uk and Japan etc etc etc…… The team screwed Lewis more than Lewis screwed the team! Or at best it was 50/50.


      1. Guy in the second fastest car, yes! Second fastest guy, well you won’t know unless you give them the same car… You could say the same about Lewis what you did about Jenson. Also, can you criticize Jenson? That lad hadn’t put a foot wrong throughout the damned season. Lewis, well he did make some pretty glaring mistakes which you expect from a rookie, but not a top level driver.

        1. jackbrabhamfan
          17th November 2011, 20:49

          I am going the by overall grid positions and the overall laps lead….. (the key word being ‘fast”)

    2. JackBrabhamfan
      17th November 2011, 4:53

      This not to take anything away from jenson. He is a great driver, otherwise he would be like you and me taking potshots at that special band of men from behind our keyboards!

    3. @Sri – I think people are taking Whitmarsh’s ‘honesty’ a little bit too much at face value. I’m not doubting he is being honest, I just don’t think it’s helpful to Hamilton to have to field (deny) another quote from his team boss. Hamilton really can only disagree, even if it is true he underestimated Button – what’s he supposed to say, yes, I thought Jenson was slow? I just get the feeling it isn’t the right environment for Hamilton with the McLaren team run by Whitmarsh. Hamilton’s responses to the latter’s press comments seem to show he’s bothered by them, so why does his boss continue with them? To push for better? Maybe, maybe not. Can we expect a “Let’s be honest, Lewis is basically a faster and more naturally talented driver than Jenson” from MW? I’d presume not, though it’s implicit in his comments. So this ‘honesty’ is hand-picked.

      That said, did Hamilton underestimate Button? Only he can really know. But I would suggest Hamilton didn’t underestimate Button so much as the accumulative effect of another, more cautious and more selectively aggressive racing style over the course of a season (choosing precise moments when to attack, not all the time). Too many LH mistakes and that cautious approach from Button began to eat away at his own confidence, maybe. But I’m not so sure Hamilton competes with Button as much in mind as the Red Bulls and Ferrari, and I’m not even sure he even necessarily judges himself by ‘beating his team-mate’ – or not – as much as other people want to do. Hamilton seriously wasn’t happy with Kovaleinen being so slow. Clearly he relished the battle with Alonso in his first year, but Alonso was and still is the measure for the best in Formula 1 right now. All in all I’d guess Button is probably exactly where Hamilton would expect him to be. The problem is himself having a poor season – and taking the whole season, virtually, to discover that he can’t compete for the F1 championship and have so many other distractions in his life. He got rid of his father as manager and seriously underestimated the difficulty of managing a F1 career basically on his own (who he has working for him clearly look after ‘his’ commercial interests, not anything else).

      1. Well, did you bother to think it could be contract negotiation time?

  16. That was some crazy-talk. Hamilton “destroyed” Alonso? I don’t have an Alonso poster in my locker but that is an absurd statement. “Won on count-back” does not equal “destroyed.” I’m sure Rosberg appreciated the gratuitous slam too, espeically as it is based on their karting history from the 90s.

    Of course, the main aim of this crazy jag, by first stating that Hamilton was invincible before Button came along, and that Hamilton underestimated him, is to suggest that Jenson Button is the greatest of all time. That’s not the case.

    And to paraphrase an insightful though unfortunately type-faced comment above, now that the season is over, Whitmarsh needs to direct his pep-talks to Paddy Lowe. Because the drivers took six wins from RBR mainly by grit, not by a stellar car. Enough is enough from the fizzy drinks lot. RBR will continue to mow down McLaren’s records and stature in the sport unless they put a good car on the track, at the beginning of the season.

    1. That was some crazy-talk. Hamilton “destroyed” Alonso? I don’t have an Alonso poster in my locker but that is an absurd statement. “Won on count-back” does not equal “destroyed.” I’m sure Rosberg appreciated the gratuitous slam too, espeically as it is based on their karting history from the 90s.

      Well you’re right about Alonso. He did actually have to fight his own team to accomplish what he did that year.

      Also, i think when it comes to observation on Rosberg, it may just be a hint about negotiations. May be Rosberg’s representatives contacted McLaren and Whitmarsh is potentially negotiating, who knows? What we do know is Rosberg must be itching to get his hands on a winning car to prove his salt’s worth.

      I wouldn’t read too much between the lines. Button is indeed doing an exceptional job and any manager would be foolish to not acknowledge the same. I think Whitmarsh is merely stating the obvious and nothing more when it comes to Button. Yes, i know Whitmarsh is also involved in Liegate, and Spygate, but come on, every manager does such stuff when negotiating contracts. Lewis’s contract may have been discussed and Whitmarsh is maybe just negotiating hard.

    2. I think the MP4-26 is an underrated car. One win (i.e. Alonso’s in the Ferrari) may be by “grit”, but 3 for each driver? They’ve got a damn good car, that has been the fastest on some weekends.

      1. More than Mclaren not having a competitive car I think some of the times the fight wasnt stronger for Vettel came from the fact that Mclaren have made errors. i.e. Silverstone, Monza…

  17. sid_prasher (@)
    16th November 2011, 19:36

    I don’t understand what he is trying to prove/explain with these comments – maybe it is just to divert attention from himself over the failure to win a championship since he took over…

  18. I dont know if he underestimated Button, but the points show they are evenly matched.

    In 2010
    Hamilton: 240 – Button: 214
    Hamilton: 3 DNF (2 crash 1 mechanical) – Button: 2 DNF (1 crash 1 mechanical)

    Now before anyone starts hailing or bashing any driver, we should try to remember those DNFs.

    Hungary – Gearbox,
    Italy – Broken front-rignt suspension after a very optimistic attack on Massa (Lap 1)
    Singapore – Broken left-rear suspension after a collision with Webber (after an overtake)

    Monaco – Cooling cover left on sidepot, caused overheating (not sure abaut it)
    Belgium – Collision with Vettel

    The gap was only 26, and of course anyone could say that Hamilton had one more DNF, but had one more by his own mistake. (Monza was his fault, he coud have waited one or two corner, in Singapore it was Webber who put him out of the race)
    While Button has not been out of the race by his own mistake for more than 3 years. (Belgium was the name giving event to Vettel aka Crash Kid. where he put Button out of the race)

    This year is not so different, so in my opinion they are evenly matched.

    1. You left out Suzuka 2010. Hamilton lost 3rd gear and a position to Button as a result.

      Agree with conclusion.

    2. You also left out Spain: Hamilton’s wheel breaks down 2 laps from the end, lying second. Finally, Button’s mechanical DNF came while lying around 10th in Monaco; he was hardly going to score many points there. I think in 2010, Button had a couple of good races, but generally Hamilton had him covered.

      1. Sorry, you are right, but the point is, Boutton was not eaten alive last year, as Hamilton neither this year. So they are evenly matched. You cant say that either of them is constantly better than the other.

        The biggest difference between them, is Jenson is constant, he does not have extraordinary races, while Lewis has, but also he can screw his races big time.

  19. Oh, come on! Hamilton underestimated Button? EVERYONE underestimated Button. They still do.

    It took one of JBs best years to beat Lewis’ worst year. Yep, that argument is so awesome I don’t think I could stand that awesomeness anymore. And here’s why.

    Let’s see.

    JBs KERS let him down in 2 races, that’s Valencia and Abu Dhabi.

    He had 2 mechanical DNFs, that’s Silverstone and Nurburgring.

    He was put on bad strategies in 3 of the first 4 races. That’s Malaysia, where he only inherited 2nd place down to luck due to other drivers mistakes. China, his teammate won the race while he was on a different strategy. Turkey, one stop less which obviously didn’t work for him like the other strategy did for his teammate.

    He was put on a bad strategy in Monaco.

    He qualified 13th in Spa due to a “misunderstanding”.

    And that’s just some “stuff” that wasn’t his fault. JB might’ve had an “almost perfect” second part of the season, but obviously he didn’t have the perfect season even though he didn’t put a foot wrong himself(maybe except Australia). Hamilton’s failure are his own mistakes which obviously are part of the driver.

    They said he can’t overtake. He pulled some of the bravest/best moves of the year, without DRS. That’s Spa and Massa in Silverstone.

    They said he can’t win in the dry. He won one of the hardest races in the calendar. If there’s a few races that actually require real driving skill, one of them is Suzuka. And what are they left with? Oh, but he’s not as good as Lewis!

    I’m not criticizing Lewis, he’s a worthy world champ and one of the best drivers in F1, if not the best. But Jenson Button is no worse. He’s had a hell of a tough career, 11 years in F1 and he still has what it takes. Hell of a racer in my opinion.

    1. Oh and despite everyone’s advice not to, he went and joined McLaren and became Lewis Hamiltons teammate.

      Everyone thought he would get destroyed. Everyone wondered. So, yeah, I bet Hamilton underestimated him just as everyone else did. But he proved the world wrong. I’m sorry but the man’s got balls!

    2. “what are they left with?”
      That Jenson can rarely match Lewis on qualifying pace.

      Having said that, I greatly admire both drivers – they just have different strengths. Can’t wait to see them racing each other in a championship worthy car.

  20. I think button is the best thing that could have happened to hamilton

    I also think hamilton is the best thing that has happened to button

    each has something to show the other ; what button learned last year has shown up this year , if it wasn’t for 2 failures he would be even further ahead of hamilton

    hopefully what hamilton has learned from button this year will show in his performances next year

    button is a grade A driver , but hamilton has the potential to be A+ , comes along only once in a generation ; doesn’t matter if whitmarsh hates him …..hamilton’s is McLaren’s future and they will hang on to him as long as they can ,I suspect his entire career

  21. In the meantime, while our beloved British neighbours passionately argue to know which one of their world champions in best, we French people are so happy : there will be a frenchman in F1 next year. The team ? Virgin/Marussia.


    1. But who knows what Pic might be up to, a real renessance of the French F1 hopes ;-)

  22. “Asked if Hamilton underestimated Button, the McLaren team principal said: “Possibly. He probably did, yes””

    Why speculate in such a way, considering Hamilton’s never said anything of the sort and is not hard to find if his team boss wants to know the truth of the matter? How does McLaren or either of their drivers benefit from Whitmarsh’s pointless attempt at mind-reading?

    “he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso”

    If Hamilton “destroyed” Alonso – on count back – in 07 then how would Whitmarsh describe the difference between Button and Hamilton last year?

    Hamilton’s never, even when trouncing him previously, said a bad word about Button or played up the difference in performance but now Button’s out performed him his own team boss jumps on the anti-Hamilton bandwagon. Whitmarsh is well out of order and needs a good slap from Ron.

    1. He jumps on the anti-Hamilton bandwagon by pointing out his good past performance against Alonso and Rosberg?

    2. Point 1: he answered a question.
      Point 2: “destroyed” is not only a points tally problem. It is also in the mind. FA was a 2-times World Champion, and a rookie scored as heavily as he did. That must be disturbing. What MW means with “in some ways” is morale destruction i think.

      Now when has LH tounced JB ? Not last year anyway.

      I don’t think MW jumped on the anti LH bandwagon neither. How is saying he probably underestimated JB being anti LH ? Everyone has the right to underestimate JB and every one did !

      Furthermore, why always saying “LH has his worst season” ???
      Assuming a 4th place in Sao Paolo he’ll finish with 1 pt less than last year. A podium and he did better, with at least one more win. So please people, stop with that childish “JB has had his best season while LH has had his worst” !

      1. Worst in terms of performance, mistakes… Jenson had his best season and Lewis it’s worst. That’s a fact. If that will influence how you grade a driver, it’s up to you, but you can’t fight with facts.

  23. Whitmarsh’s comments are uncalled for and very unprofessional of him. Even if Hamilton underestimated Button (he hasn’t said that in public), there is no need to say that. This is the second negative comment about Hamilton in the last couple of weeks and that just gives the impression of an attempt to big up Button. He could have answered the question in a more professional way.

    He needs to focus on his own ability of leading the team to produce a car worthy of winning championships and stop the little digs at Hamilton.

    Maybe Hamilton is frustrated by the team’s inability to deliver championship winning cars and not Buttons points. Afterall if you compare the two drivers, of the 18 races so far, Hamilton has scored points head of Button 9 times and vice versa. On qualifying, Hamilton has qualified ahead of Button 12 times and Button qualified ahead of Hamilton 6 times. Hamilton beat Button last year and Button is set to beat Hamilton this year. It’s not the end of the world. The team should focus on delivering a good car and leave the driving to the drivers!

  24. MW has said the same thing twice in the past few months and both times Lewis has denied it and very forcefully too. Shouldn’t he refrain from any more comments on this or tone it down a little, knowing it will only annoy Lewis more? Or is that what his intention is?

  25. I don’t know about Martin but I agree that Button even many here,many thought & still think that his 09 WC isn’t a deserving one,but I think he proved this season what he is really capable of, some of his drive (Canada,Spa,Monza,Monaco) were surely amazing,something which I thought I will not see from him.One of the biggest difference has been stability within the team, performance & personal life,everywhere Button has been ahead of Hamilton,I hope HAM finds his momentum soon.

  26. I know it’s not bang on topic. Lewis pre-race interview with Jake and his comments about Jensen having it together and his comment critical of his father.

    These comments really made me uncomfortable. I found the comments disturbing and I felt not a little embarrassed for Lewis. He just sounded weak and had a poor me attitude. It also highlighted for me the fact that Lewis isn’t back in the groove and doesn’t seem have worked out what has gone wrong this year. He is still pointing fingers at everything and everyone else. Also whining about not having things like Jensen, a girlfriend, supportive father.

    If this is his state of mind and all that he has learned for this years problems, then he is just the same if not worse than the beginning of the year.

    A lot of comments on this thread state Lewis is back after his race win both driving and mentally. I found it to be the exact opposite. I am not a fan of Lewis but listening to him in that interview I felt sorry for him and thought this poor young man is messed up.

  27. JackBrabhamfan
    17th November 2011, 3:57

    Two words! Sam Michael! Ron Dennis made has made Sam director of racing and he is going to be in charge of race operations. In his first race in an unofficial capacity, Mclarens pit stops were the fastest, only the second time this year. Lewis was smiling and won the race.

    MW can feel his power slipping away. I will not be too surprised if he is kicked upstairs and Sam is made Team principal.

  28. The only reason Button beats Hamilton this season is not because Button is a brilliant driver, but because Hamilton have made a lot of mess for himself.

    There is no doubt who of those two drivers who’s the faster one.

  29. Having read all the comments so far it seems a lot of people are looking at Whitmarsh’s remark about Hamilton “virtually destroying” Alonso, pointing at the 2007 points tally and questioning his judgement.

    I think that’s because Whitmarsh isn’t referring to the points that year. Remember he’s been at McLaren so long he’s part of the furniture. He saw the Alonso chapter from day one.

    McLaren spent more time anticipating Alonso’s arrival than he actually spent driving for them. And we know that as early as March 2007 Alonso was talking to Flavio Briatore about going back to Renault. Whatever Alonso didn’t like about sharing a team with Hamilton, he felt it from day one.

    Alonso was supposed to be a major, long-term signing for the team – instead he was out in less than 12 months. When Whitmarsh says Hamilton “virtually destroyed” Alonso, I’m sure it’s this he’s talking about.

    1. Erm, Alonso did win 2 WDC’s with Renault. At the time, that is ’07, Ron was prepping team for arrival of Lewis, news of which was in media since ’05. Infact they brought forward the arrival of Lewis into F1 by a year. Who knows what was in the contract of Alonso. May be he indeed was to be number 1 at Macca and he didn’t like the situation he found instead, which was the team solidly behind Lewis. Another reason could have been spygate, where he may have feared a ban for McLaren and was just having a backup ready, just in case… The thing is, no one knows what Alonso came up against, but Alonso. Alonso is the same guy who went at Schumacher at 130R and i’m certain that every man can break given the push, but Alonso would have seen/ experienced something to result in what you quoted.

      1. The thing is, no one knows what Alonso came up against, but Alonso.

        I suspect Marthin Whitmarsh did, and that’s who we’re talking about.

    2. Maybe McLaren had something to do on the subjetc. Hamilton virtually destroyed Alonso, and as Dennis said, McLaren raced him.

    3. Don’t agree with you on that one Keith.

      MW said
      “Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie. He did the same with Nico Rosberg in karting frankly – and every other team mate on his way into Formula 1.”

      He clearly means that Hamilton dominated Alonso and drove much better than him.

      It might appear that Hamilton dominated Alonso and that is mainly because of the reputation they came into that year, Alonso a 2 time champion and Hamilton a rookie. If Alonso was given a year to get used to the car then we would have seen the true difference between them. Unfortunately we did not.

      I think MW is trying to highlight the above to state how strong Button is. For whatever reason, i am not saying it is because he favours Button but Martin seems to feel the need to impress upon people how good Button’s year has been. Maybe because most people still don’t give credit to Button for this year.

      Personally i feel Button and Hamilton have been evenly matched because they have different strengths. Hamilton is struggling with tyres this year, he still has not got it right. Maybe because he likes a loose rear end and that destroys the Pirelli’s much faster. In the end they have been evenly matched. I expected more from Hamilton and still do, only time will tell us if he will wake up.

      1. If Alonso was given a year to get used to the car then we would have seen the true difference between them.

        I don’t buy that. It’s not as if Hamilton had much of a head start on him. And Alonso had five years of F1 experience to draw on.

  30. Why does Whitmarsh feel he needs to say these things ?
    You don’t hear Horner talking down Webber during interviews and you don’t hear Domenicali talking down Massa but both have been very much destroyed by their respective team mates.
    It’s obvious to anyone on the outside that Button is he’s golden boy.
    The only thing Hamilton underestimates on a regular bases is at what point Massa will turn in on him !!

    1. Why does Whitmarsh feel he needs to say these things ?

      He’s a significant figure in F1, which means journalists ask him questions, which he then answers.

      I’d rather he did that than duck every question, which a lot of people in his situation tend to do.

      Does it really make a difference to Hamilton or Button? I seriously doubt it.

      1. But it does matter, he is the team principle and everything he says matters.

        He has to say what he feels and which he is. Good for us.

      2. Keith,
        There are many important people in this world who have questions fired at them on a daily bases, most of them are able to answer those questions without bringing their own personal feelings into the equation and in a way that doesn’t offend anyone.
        Simply saying ‘he’s important and was asked the question’ is not an excuse.
        Of course it makes a difference to a driver if he’s team principle is saying he cracked under pressure from his team mate and he underestimated him.

      3. @Keith Collantine i have to disagree with you on this one. Yes, its good for Whitmarsh not to duck questions but there is a difference between answering questions based on facts and answers based on assumption without consideration to the issues it creates.
        “Does it really make a difference to Hamilton or Button? I seriously doubt it.”

        Ofcourse it does! Did Hamilton tell Whitmarsh he underestimated Button? This stamement about understimation is a tad childish and puts Hamilton in a bad light considering the fact that Hamilton has said that he respects Button and welcome the challenge he brings.

        I’m sure another team boss would have said a simple know or doesn’t think so and that would have been the end of it.

        I see no benefit in the given by Whitmarsh and i suggest he focus on his role as the team boss and deliver a championship winning car, which is his primary role!

  31. Well I guess Jenson can dig up this old news article and smile now.

  32. I’m not sure why we’re paying that much attention to the usual “boost-like” comments that every manager is supposed to say.
    “Lewis is great, he will beat anyone, etc, etc.” OK, we got, we know, let’s see.

    But, so far that hasn’t been the case with Button?

  33. No Mr. withmarsh, Hamilton underestimated you.

    Since Button joined Mclaren, Hamilton has got on very well with Button and doesn’t mind being beaten by him.
    What you, Mr. withmarsh has done, is focused on getting Button to finish ahead of Hamilton rather than focus on getting your drivers to finish ahead of Redbull.
    You have diluted every effort Hamilton has made by changing his race strategy to a ridiculous one mid race. You have giving Button the favourable pit stops even when he is not in contention for a podium position, and then used strategy to try get him ahead of Hamilton, whenever they were running close to each other.

    Your endless fascination with Button finishing ahead of Hamilton, instead of Button finishing ahead of Vettel, has cost you a driver’s title and a constructors title.
    You were lucky Ferrari had trouble getting heat into their tyres, and Mercedes, not being able to preserve theirs.

    First take a look at the numerous instances where your strategy has messed up Hamilton’s race or qualifying, then focus on what your team’s objective is. Because right now, your corporate objective is getting Button ahead of Hamilton rather than winning championships.

    1. Care to offer any proof for any of this?

      1. jackbrabhamfan
        17th November 2011, 12:23

        I will try to provide you with some proof……

        Lewis’s screwup (and I will grant you even the questionable ones, except when the stewards found the other party at fault)….
        Malaysia -Alonso incident and drive through
        Monaco- Massa and Maldonaldo
        Canada- Button Crash
        Hungary- Spin, deResta drive though
        Spa- Kobiyashi crash
        Singapore – Massa.
        India P1 yellow flag

        Now lets look at the team screw ups…..
        Malaysia, early tire first pitstop and change, very slow second pit stop which gave the 2nd place to Jenson and later the Alonso incident.
        Monaco….screwup in Q3 and Lewis’ final run spoilt by Perez crash
        Britain – screwup in Q3, and low fuel warning which cost a podium.
        Hungary- Wrong tire type of change while Jenson was put on the right tires within the next two laps.
        Singapore q3 fuelling issues.
        Japan- Q3 sending Lewis soon after Jenson with very little time to spare.
        In the race calling in Lewis on an erroneous slow tire puncture call.

        Jenson’s wins in Hungary and Japan came after Lewis was screwed with wrong tire calls.

        And qualified faster than Lewis when his final runs were aborted or disrupted in Monaco, Britain and Japan.

        This is not to say that Jenson is not a great driver. He is. And he was screwed by McLaren at least once in qualifying and twice during the race.

        So before MW starts reading Lewis’s thoughts, he should clean up his performance as he as the team leader has screwed Lewis more than Lewis has screwed him. Lewis has never said that he has underestimated Jenson and speaks always about him with affection and respect.

        And the dig about destroying Fernando seems like very cynical attempt to dig up old wounds just as Lewis and Fernando are becoming very complimentary of each other..

        And you ask proof of Oliver’s post supporting Lewis and critical of MW. To be fair, you then should ask proof from MW about Lewis’s underestimation of Jenson……

        1. jackbrabhamfan
          17th November 2011, 12:29

          And I emphasize the Q3 screwups…… because Horner gets Vettel to lap as the last driver on every Q3. And when Mclaren tries to do it, they screwup……..

        2. And where exactly is your proof in that litany of circumstance?

          The lengths you’ve gone to try to pin blame on McLaren for the most innocent of mistakes is almost comical. Take Hungary for example – Button made his own decision not to come in for tyres, there was nothing stopping Hamilton from doing the same.

          Not only is there no evidence here that Whitmarsh has done anything wrong, there is nothing that proves anyone has done anything even slightly dodgy. You’re letting your imagination run away with you and turn the odd blunder here and there into some heinous conspiracy.

          A few pit wall gaffes proves nothing more than that mistakes happen. Red Bull and Ferrari dropped the ball last weekend, it’ll be someone else next weekend.

          1. I agree with you on this particular point, but i have to say that your will to defend Withmarsh and Button is something amazing.

          2. jackbrabhamfan
            17th November 2011, 13:49

            Oliver said…”First take a look at the numerous instances where your strategy has messed up Hamilton’s race or qualifying, then focus on what your team’s objective is…”

            And you ask for proof of the messed up strategy….

            I give you examples…..

            …. and you claim that I am accusing MW of some heinous conspiracy….

            No Keith, I am not. I am accusing him of something worse….. Incompetence! Did you read the part when I said Jenson was affected too?

            You say…”Take Hungary for example – Button made his own decision not to come in for tyres, there was nothing stopping Hamilton from doing the same”. Now you blame Lewis for following pit instructions?

            “A few pit wall gaffes proves nothing more than that mistakes happen”. Of course they do…… But this is more than a few…. Which directly or indirectly led to a lot of Lewis’s incidents…(Malaysia, Monaco, Spa, Hungary, Singapore and Japan)

            You are extraordinarily supporting and forgiving of MW. Admirable trait indeed. I only wish you were as consistent across the board!

            An article on Lewis highlighting all his faults and psychological issues would seem more balanced if they include the team induced issues as well.

            And you haven’t responded comments about trying to bringing old and presumably forgotten issues between Alonso and Lewis, especially when they have been getting very complimentary to each other…..

            And what proof does MW have that Lewis underestimated Lewis? A little skepticism on that claim would be in order, don’t you think?

          3. How many times has Hamilton’s race engineer not been on the same page with the team, leading Withmarsh to clarify that they were under the wrong impression.
            Pit stops are another area where the team can influence the finishing order or potential of their drivers. I have seen Mclaren use it to Button’s favour many times. Even in Japan Hamilton was kept on faded tyres for too long further pushing him back, just so Button’s pit window was kept open.
            And this constant asking for proof is just not the way because the proof is in Withmarsh’s head, we are left to interprete his actions and comments to deduce what we already know and some tacitly choose to ignore.
            Withmarsh saying “I’ve known Lewis for many years” is not the same as ” I’ve always wanted Lewis in this team” or “I’ve always liked Lewis”.
            Witmarsh has done more to destroy Hamiltons image with his stupid comments and false declaration of support.
            Instead of pointing out where Massa did wrong like in Monaco, he will say, ” we don’t want him to change his style”. What does that mean? Isn’t it admitting his driver is to blame?

            Since Withmarsh became boss, Hamilton’s performance has been on the decline, he has suffered more race strategy blunders, which is different from pit service blunders. More effort has been made getting Button from say 6th to 3rd, than getting Hamilton from 3rd to 2nd or even 2nd to 1st. The reverse more often is the case.
            And if there is that slight chance they can get Button ahead, he will make sure it happens.
            We saw that in Hungary, before the rains came. Hamilton was already doomed to 2nd position at best.

            Withmarsh doesn’t have to like Hamilton, he is under no obligation to. The comments he made post Turkish GP 2010 has come to pass.
            It is better he keeps quiet than pretend. He ends up not looking very smart.

          4. SimS – It’s not so much to ask that if people are going to make allegations like this they should be able to back them up, regardless who they’re aimed at.

            Oliver –

            this constant asking for proof is just not the way because the proof is in Withmarsh’s head

            No, the suspicion is in your head, and the proof is absent because there isn’t any.

          5. Even in Japan Hamilton was kept on faded tyres for too long further pushing him back, just so Button’s pit window was kept open.

            Have you ever tought abuot that, if Hamilton made a pitstop, then his new tyres would have gone off before the end of the race, so they chose this option because he lost less time(2-3sec/lap), than he would have lost with another stop.(23-24sec).

          6. Keith, you are not an authority on Martin Withmarsh. The fact there is no suspicion in your head does not make that a fact. It only means you do not see one or refuse to see on.

            I am happy to have you believe there isn’t. So don’t, with the wave of a hand, dismiss the suspicions of people who read more meaning into events, than what is obvious to the naked eye.

            The facts remain that Withmarsh was the one who wanted to end Mclaren’s sponsorship of Hamilton prior to his F1 debut.
            Withmarsh was also the one who said Mclaren let go of the wrong driver, after Alonso left.
            He is the first team principal that I know of, who came up witha tirade at the puzzlement of his driver about the pitwall miscommunication. Rather tan calmly reassuring the driver, he went on the offensive.
            He is the first to blame his driver for even team errors. Only to come out a few days later with PR hogwash.

            I don’t dislike Withmarsh, but he is not lending himself to credibility in my opinion. Your own opinion is yours, it is free.

          7. So don’t, with the wave of a hand, dismiss the suspicions of people who read more meaning into events, than what is obvious to the naked eye.

            No, I’ll do the exact opposite and continue to point out that you are merely writing reams and reams of hysterical supposition and conjecture with no hard facts to back up your point of view.

            The amusing thing is you accuse others of spouting “PR hogwash”. Yet you are the one who has written a series of comments spinning, twisting and distorting every innocuous event to try to fit your view of the world.

            The facts speak for themselves. Or rather, in your case, the absence of them do.

          8. Ehm, Oliver should we then understand that if you say this

            Keith, you are not an authority on Martin Withmarsh.

            to mean you are an expert on Withmarsh?

            When you say

            The fact there is no suspicion in your head does not make that a fact.

            , that is true.
            But it also does not mean that your suspicion is a fact either. If someone suspects something, he/she should be able to explain why. And from what you have written so far, yours is based on things that should rather be called a string of annoying incidents (which McLaren no doubt would like to avoid in the future – enter Sam Michael), and no prove at all of some sort of dislike from Withmarsh going so far as to hurt his own teams’ chances to win races, championships and get points.

            Instead of pointing out where Massa did wrong like in Monaco, he will say, ” we don’t want him to change his style”. What does that mean? Isn’t it admitting his driver is to blame?

          9. … sorry that last one fell out.
            Withmarsh was reacting to the BBC in their Forum and Massa but with others jumping on the bandwagon to say Hamilton should radically change his driving.
            Withmarsh therefore said, that he does not want Hamilton to do any such thing, just refocuss on driving at the front. I really cannot see anything wrong with that.

  34. Nobody destroyed anyone, Alonso wanted all the support and No1 status and decided to use threats of revealing underhand tactics by McLaren to get it (allegedly). I actually applaud McLaren for not giving in to him and taking their punishment. We all remember the “i’ve brought 6 tenths to this team” comment” from Alonso, ever since then i’ve had zero respect for him.

  35. Fair comment from Whitmarsh.

    1. @AndrewTanner – I love the economy of this post, especially compared to some of the outpourings above! :)

      1. Well, @dirgegirl I don’t see that there is much to argue with here. I’m not one to make a mountain out of a molehill ;)

    2. jackbrabhamfan
      17th November 2011, 20:53

      On what basis is “Hamilton ‘underestimated Button’ a fair comment? MW’s opinion or something Lewis said?

      1. Martin Whitmarsh’s opinion. I agree with it.

        1. jackbrabhamfan
          17th November 2011, 21:23

          Thanks for clearing it up. For a moment, I thought your agreement with MW was based on facts (which would be based on what Lewis said) .

  36. @oliver Withmarsh wanted to end Hamilton sponsorship? So did Helmut Marko with Vettel… and look where he is now…

  37. sid_prasher (@)
    17th November 2011, 18:42

    I am not particularly a fan of Lewis – but he is ultra competitive and such people don’t have a habit of under-estimating others – not the least a reigning world champion. Comments like these are so subjective that they do nothing but cause irritation to all parties involved.

    1. Well said sid_prasher,
      That’s exactly the point, Whitmarsh may think those things and he has every right not to like Hamilton but to air those thoughts to a hungry pack of journalists just because he’s asked to is not the normal behavior of a team principle.

      1. Au contraire. Team principals exhibit pretty varied behaviour; just like people, really.

        1. jackbrabhamfan
          17th November 2011, 21:29

          Not the great ones…… Ross Brawn, Ron Dennis, Christian Horner, Frank Williams, Flavio B or even Stefano D would never presume to psychoanalyze their drivers.

          Even a newbie like Malliya or or Tony F would talk about the most inexperienced driver, let alone a former world champion and 17 Grand Prix winner.

          As someone much smarter than me once said, ‘Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people”

          Which group do you think MW fits in?

          1. Well, since by commenting on this post I automatically fall into the “small mind” category, I’m not sure I’m qualified to pronounce. I don’t think I’d want to see Whitmarsh discuss ideas, though. Nor do I think he was psychoanalysing anyone.

  38. Do I understand that Keith is doubting whether Whitmarsh’s words matter to his drivers?

    I believe that these words do matter, and to Hamilton in particular.

    I imagine it’s pleasing to hear positivity from one’s team principal, but agree that Button is a mature, confident, settled adult who doesn’t need overly worry about other people’s talk, especially the media’s.

    Hamilton is different, though. And I would suggest that words matter very much to a less mature, less confident, altogether less emotionally stable driver when he’s going through a difficult time.

    Hamilton has been very open about his fragile emotional state and during a BBC1 interview this weekend tried explain how he believes his inability to cope with the negativity he feels from the media is one of the things that has adversely affected his driving.

    I would argue that these comments from Whitmarsh will undoubtly prompt journalists seeking reaction to the quote into exactly the kind of questionning Hamilton feels negative and must therefore conclude that Whitmarsh’s comments matter to Hamilton very much.

    Either way, I would like to say how sad I am to see anyone struggle with their well-being in this way and how I feel it’s also a shame for the sport that Hamilton’s talent is being impaired by his emotional coping ability.

    Let us all wish that this winter sees any driver who needs it receive as much support for their mental health as for their physical fitness.

    Ps. I love the site and would like to thank Keith for all his sterling work and all my fellow fanatics for making this what it is. :-)

    1. @Anon…, It is precisely this sort of compassionate view that is missing in most of todays journalism. Unfortunately, many here and elsewhere feel much better about themselves by tearing down others. I say this not as a blind worshiper of Hamilton, but an accomplished individual that attempts to stay fear removed from negativity… And I live in L.A. and work in the Biz in Hollywood. By comparison these vultures are tame. The Guy shows vulnerability and it still doesn’t soften the hearts of his detractors. Many so called news organizations have more in common with tabloids than they may care to believe… And that is not a dig @ F1F which I consider credible, so please don’t delete My comment

      1. *far*

  39. Whitmarsh is supposed to be neutral, but this is not the first time this year that he has had a dig at Lewis. It appears to me to be a subtle hint to Lewis to accept no 2 status at McLaren next season. Perhaps that’s why Lewis – who definitely understands this – called earlier remarks by Whitmarsh ‘rubbish’, a rather unusually strong way to disagree.
    Two things stand out for me:
    1. There have been many mistakes in the pits at McLaren this season, usually affecting Lewis, including poor qualifying calls by the team, etc.
    2. Whenever Ron Dennis has been at the race, none of these has happened – and Lewis has beaten Jenson.
    I think there is a bit of a war going on at McLaren, and Whitmarsh is in Button’s corner.

  40. @Bingi.
    That is exactly the point.
    It becomes puzzling some individuals, instead of saying they don’t really beleive that is true, come out with so much confidence in dismissing these suggestions, as if to say they are privy to Withmarsh’s thought process.
    No one implies Withmarsh will sabotage Hamilton’s car, only that he does have a preference for Button coming out ahead.
    His way of always praising Button for the most basic of achievements speaks for itself.

    Some of us said last year that Withmarsh is out to create his own legacy. He needs his own signing to be the one to lead Mclaren’s challenge.
    If Hamilton keeps out pacing Button, then the hands of Ron Dennis are still steering the ship.

  41. I think there has been things going on in the team between Whitmarsh and Lewis and I believe one day the true story will come out. Yes, Lewis says he has had relationship and family problems to deal but I think it has not been good inside the team

  42. For the life of me I don’t why he said that

    Lewis’s response to being told that he was feeling pressure from Button by Whitmarsh. This came after the “rubbish” statement earlier.

    What does it all mean, who knows? However, when it’s printed for all to see people will perceive it to mean something is not right between Whitmarsh and Hamilton.

  43. Reading between the lines, I think Whitmarsh likes Jenson Button more as a person than he does Hamilton. Its true that Whitmarsh has known Lewis for years, but Hamilton was Ron Dennis’ find. It was Ron Dennis who aided Hamilton’s career from 1995 onwards, and who paired him with Fernando Alonso.
    Hamilton and Button are two very different personalities. Hamilton likes the limelight and all the kudos, Button appears far more reserved and likes to play everything down. The reason Alonso and Hamilton clashed in 2007 is that they both wanted the same thing, team domination, but Dennis chose his ‘boy wonder’ over the Spaniard and all hell broke loose. They are two men who have ‘too’ much in common, and that often ends in disaster.
    Button has managed to gel with the team in a way that Alonso was unable to do, and everytime Hamilton has screwed up this year, it has made Button all the more stronger. He hasn’t thrown any tantrums in public, even after a bad result, and he hasn’t made the mistakes. Only Maldonado has more penalties than Hamilton this year, and that speaks for itself.
    Its not just the fact that Button has beaten him that must rankle Lewis, but the fact that he isn’t the star of the team anymore, its epicentre. He lost that when Ron Dennis stood down in 2009.

  44. kenneth Ntulume
    19th November 2011, 8:27

    With all due honesty, its hard not to see that Whitmarsh, consistently and continuously makes comments that are not exactly favorable for Lewis, on the other-hand he consistently talks up Button, whatever the case its logical to conclude that he favors Button over Lewis, unfortunately though for Mclaren, and the chances of them winning a championship
    I hope they see that beating a team mate is not Lewis’s preoccupation, but to win the championship, thats the kind of car he could need(and i hope Button too), so much so that the inter-team fight is for the championship not who comes a head, between the two, its mediocre that Whitmarsh has reduced the team to this!!!
    Again i agree as earlier posted, it would be a huge mistake, if Mclaren is built around Button rather than Lewis…….

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