Are people too critical of Button

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    F1 is a fickle world, we saw Frentzen, Jos Verstappen and other such names be viewed as potential champions to then become has beens. Jacques Villeneuve who burst onto the scene in 96 is a fine example of a champion who soon became a midfielder.

    My point for today is, are people too harsh of Button? He proved to be fast before driving a dog of a BAR and Honda only to have a storming year in 2009 when the car was good, he also proved to be a real champion when up against Hamilton in the Mclaren. I agree he’s a very sensitive driver that needs a car a particular way, and some drivers such as Alonso and Hamilton can adapt. But looking at Vettel and Raikkonen this year, it can be said that many drivers are needing cars to suit their driving style.I agree that Buttons qualifying pace is rather average but on race day he is still outscoring his team mates in general (I don’t need specific years to be mentioned as I know he hasn’t beaten his team mates every year).

    I’m not biased, but who agrees with me that people have jumped onto the “I can’t get the tyres to work” criticism too heavily?


    Yes to some extent I agree with you that sometimes the car has to be in the right window for the driver to adjust their style and make the difference, in my view in many ways its sad that Button wasn’t around in the cars of the past i.e. the 1970s or 1980s etc. as its always struck me that he is more of a thinking driver than some others on the grid so when telemetry wasn’t around he would have been absolutely unbeatable as he can drive around problems. As back then sadly unlike today the driver could make the difference and be competitive regularly (look at Senna driving for Tobleman in 1984 several podiums in a car that was midfield in competitive at best)

    Take for example the 2010 Melbourne grand prix in changeable conditions he switched from wet tyres to slicks before anyone else (possibly before the right moment if memory serves as he went off the circuit a few times), but kept it out of the wall/ gravel and was able to go onto win


    I think he is better than some people give him credit for. As Dan says above he’s one of the best at race management, but he doesn’t have the killer instinct of the top drivers (Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton), plus he lacks that little bit of quali pace which ends up making him seem a bit boring.

    All in all I’d say he’s good but not great, certainly a worthy champion but if he hadn’t won a championship it wouldn’t have been a scandal.


    I may be a tad biased here, as I’m a huge supporter of his, but I definitely agree.

    As has been mentioned, his quali pace isn’t spectacular, but it doesn’t mean he can’t hook up great laps when he has the car to work with. Look at Spa 2012 for example, or all of his poles in Brawn.

    In a bad car, I think he lacks motivation, sort of like Raikkonen really, but I would class Button as the better of the two.

    Anyway, I’d like to see him compared to Alonso, as they both seem to have great race craft, but somewhat lacking a little on Saturdays at times.


    I think there’s 2 reasons people are rather critical of Button, coming from my own observations.

    The main reason would probably be the idea he isn’t as naturally gifted as what is often called the top tier of Vettel/Hamilton/Alonso (sometimes including Raikkonen). While that didn’t stop people from adoring Mark Webber, Jenson’s title coming from a dominant car has somewhat skewed people’s views; ‘if he’s not as amazing as Hamilton etc. and had a dominant car, it must have been the car’. Of course, with McLaren’s recent poor form (as well as him struggling with the 2012 car’s set up), people are easy to forget his performances in 2004, 2006, 2012 and 2010.

    For some of the people who were following F1 in the early 2000’s, their perception of Jenson might have been warped long before. I remember a lot of non-UK F1 fans being rather annoyed with the way the UK motorsports media idolized him in his early years, leading to some people thinking of him as hyped. I also remember a lot of publications saying he was a ‘playboy’, spending more time partying than working on his craft. Stellar performances like his 2004 German GP were often overlooked, his win was lucky, until he won that title. Now, I see some of the same people give him a hard time again. Though I have to say, the poor years of 2007 and 2008 didn’t help his general standing with fans, as people were generally also thinking Rubens’ career was over..

    Personally, I was one of those who gave him a hard time before, but he won me over, over time. Still, I’d rate him just below Vettel/Alonso/Hamilton and Raikkonen. Though it is hard to say how much of his speed is lost, since he has had poor cars for 2 years now.

    Iestyn Davies

    Some interesting points here, I have to admit. People do forget his early promise, but I’d say peak-Button equates well with peak-Rosberg, which is just short of the top 4, or Hamilton in particular. Out of the ‘second group’, Kubica you would think could’ve challenged the top drivers, while guys like Webber were occasionally too inconsistent to consistently beat this second group, which includes a peak-Massa as well.

    Perhaps Button is a bit like Vergne, suited to race pace, while Hamilton is more like Ricciardo, suited to 1 lap pace? It could also just be which tracks suit which style. Hamilton prefers tracks like Canada, while Vettel likes tilkedromes and Button won at Suzuka where Hamilton has not yet for example.


    Based on sheer speed, I feel that Button is no match to Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso. But, Button has proven to be exceptionally good in damp races. In these races skills, brains and tactics are combined and then he has proven to be one of the best around. To me, that is enough to qualify him as one of the key-drivers since 2000.

    This article might be interesting: http://f1metrics.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/who-was-the-best-wet-weather-driver/

    Iestyn Davies

    Some great analysis there, @matthijs. I’d be very interested to see how his analysis compares to Patrick O’Brien’s of GrandPrixRatings! I do like the look of the other articles, too.

    Interesting that it backs up Button being the best wet-weather driver of the modern era – his call at Australia 2010 typifies that. I wonder if that is now gradually fading – I’m remembering a bad call somewhere recently, and he lost the chance to win Malaysia 2012 by thumping Karthikeyan. But he was blameless in Malaysia 2013 – with McLaren and Force India both losing good points with disastrous pit stops. I still think Hulk was robbed in Brazil 2012, so Jenson was lucky there.

    1.5 years since a wet race…. odd how it comes in fits and starts! They developed 4 wheel drive for the wet in 1969, after many wet 1968 races, then there was a 2 year dry streak, the longest on record….

    Also interesting to see that Senna, Ascari and Villeneuve top the metrics under other circumstances.

    Ed Marques

    Agree with @george and @matthijs.
    Button seems to be the king of chaos. Always when a race become crazy because of the weather he does so much better than the others.


    I think the current pack of drivers is very good. So good, that we even question the abilities of drivers like Button, Raikkonen and Vettel this year. :)


    In Oz 2010 he came in a lap too early, because Lewis had passed him and he’d burned up his tyres! Then he went straight off, deterred everyone else for a lap, and the sector positionings handed him another lap till they could respond. Kubica held the others up after an extra stop.

    It’s exaggerating his performances that brings ‘criticism’ down on him IMO. He can be sublime, but he’s quite variable.

    Same with Canada 2011, which some cite as his greatest, forgetting he took out both his main rivals and drove himself down to last place before becoming mega:)

    I think F1 fate has been reasonably kind to him. I would like to see him vs Alonso though , cos he can be so quick.


    @lockup I remember calling him ‘an idiot’ when he changed to slicks in Oz 2010. But he did make the tyres work in these wet conditions and came out on top. Timing was on his side, but he could have stacked his car.

    I don’t think Button would do well against Alonso. He is not that fast and Alonso is equally smart.


    @Matthijs Well he did stack it in a sense, in that he went off. It didn’t really register as poor judgement / lack of skill because it was his fronts he locked so he kept straight and could drive out, and then with yes an excellent drive and various other factors win the race. If he’d locked his rears and ended up stuck like Petrov it’d be a different memory!

    Anyway I don’t really disagree with you, just I think he gets quite fair-to-favourable treatment on the whole. I’d say the general view is quite realistic, especially now we Brits don’t have to choose between him and Lewis.

    Alonso has more intensity, I’d say that’s the biggest difference – he can lap all race at absolute maximum performance. Yes they’re both clever. On pace? Well I’d like to see it. On Jenson’s good days I’m not sure Nando would be happy :)


    @lockup I knew it would be used against me ;). Indeed, he did run through the gravel but he kept going.

    I also think that the general view is quite realistic and I also understand that many Brits favour Hamilton. I just wanted to mention that to me (despite his lack of sheer speed compared to Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso) he is a very smart and decent racer. I like that.


    @Matthijs Yeah I agree. He’s a decent, good-natured guy, like Lewis. I really like how he and Lewis can still have breakfast together and be supportive after moments like Turkey 2010 and Canada 2011, that would have had so many other drivers feuding till the end of time! Or even Hock this year, when JB had the class to reverse out of his criticism.

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