Thursday, 4 August 2011

Is Button better than Hamilton?

A very hotly debated question is Who is the better McLaren driver? In this article I look at both drivers, before coming to a conclusion.

In Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Mclaren have possibly the best driver line up on the grid. However, after been at McLaren since the start of his career, Lewis Hamilton effectively "owns" the team. And he has always been considered as a better driver than Button. And that is a fair statement, he finished on level points in his first season with Fernando Alonso, and of course he won his first world championship in 2008. Then he wrestled his dire McLaren to two race wins in 2009, in Hungary and Singapore. Over the course of those two years, he oblitterated his team mate Heikki Kovalainen. Then Button joined, and he is a real challenge for Hamilton. Winning two of his first four races in a McLaren car last year as well as taking two wins already this season proves that Button is not going to roll over for his younger team mate.

One thing I believe is that Hamilton is faster. We have seen that, because he is definitely a better qualifier and has more one-lap speed. He is beating Button 8-3 in qualifying this season, but occasionally Hamilton's speed is a disadvantage.

Now, don't get me wrong, Lewis Hamilton is an incredible driver, an excellent champion. But his driving in the last two seasons in particular has been somewhat erratic. For example, in Monaco this season, he had incidents with Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. In my opinion, all of these were his fault, and it caused two of the drivers to retire from the race. He was going for gaps that didn't exist, a classic example of over driving. Also this year, there was Malaysia, where he made two many movements on the straight, causing Fernando Alonso to clip his rear wing. Also in this race, he was penalised for double movement on the pit straight. Then there was Canada, where he went for the tightest gap possible to try and overtake his team mate, but it resulted in Hamilton retiring after hitting the wall. In Britain, he ran wide twice when trying to outbrake Felipe Massa, miles too late on the brakes. In that race, he almost ran out of fuel, and had to drive the last stint at a snail's pace, which lost him a podium, and almost a 4th place. And then in the last race, in his eagerness to get back on track after a spin, he almost took out Paul di Resta. All of these were examples of Hamilton over driving.

Button doesn't do that. Button very rarely makes mistakes and always knows the limits of the car, when he can brake, what gaps he can go for etc. His two wins this season, as well as his two last season, were all in mixed conditions, all about managing the tyres, and all of them involved wet patches. Button stays calm and doesn't crack under pressure, whereas Hamilton sometimes does. Also, Button is brilliant for preserving the tyres, and I would probably say he is the most intelligent driver on the grid, along with maybe Alonso. In the past, Button has been criticised for stuggling to overtake. I think he got rid of that tag by coming from 23rd to 1st at Canada this year. However, he couldn't pass Massa in Australia. One thing that Button needs to seriously sort out, is the starts. His start in Hungary at the weekend was his best for some time. But he has generally not made good starts this season.

So which McLaren driver is better? A confusing conclusion: Hamilton is a better driver, but if I was a team boss, I would sign up Button ahead of Hamilton.

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