Lewis Hamilton is not the easiest person to work with. At least that was what Jenson Button said. The 2009 World Champion recently released his autobiography and spoke about the time when he and Hamilton were teammates. Their first altercation was during the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix. Button said he and Hamilton nearly came to blows when the former was accused of ignoring team orders. In fact Button labelled Hamilton as a ‘weird teammate‘.
In his autobiography, Button wrote “Midway through that first season, I was ahead of Lewis in the points. Did he like being beaten by his teammate? Probably not, but he’s a competitor and I’m sure that like me he relished the challenge. That’s why we do what we do. Personally, he was fine with me, but you could just tell he was a little bit peeved. I don’t think that I was to his taste, if I’m honest. And things took a bit of a turn for the worse in Turkey, when we almost had a collision that led to a minor falling-out between us.”
Button on the Turkey incident
In that race, then leader Hamilton was under the impression that they were holding position. So he was rather miffed when Button overtook him. Rather than consult the team, Hamilton confronted Button over the incident.
Button said “On the podium there was what the media called some ‘frosty’ body language and a ‘muted’ celebration. In fact, he came straight out and asked me about it: “Did you pass me against team orders?”.
Button clarified that he did not pass him against orders and there was no such order. Then Hamilton got it in his head that the team were siding with Button. But he never did explain why they would want to do that. McLaren had no reason to impose such orders, given that they were on course for a one–two. Apart from their respective race engineers, nobody in the team cared about who came first and who came second.
The 2012 Belgian GP
At the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton tweeted secret telemetry data to show why he had lost out by running a different rear wing design in qualifying. Button said “Quite what was in his thinking, I couldn’t say. Certainly any displeasure he was showing was aimed at the team, not me, but I ended up being collateral damage because you don’t make telemetry public. You just don’t. The screen grab showed the kind of things you work hard to keep hidden from your rivals. I made my feelings known about that. The official version was that I was “disappointed”. Had I gone with my unofficial reaction it would have made ‘WTF’ seem very tame indeed. But at the same time I knew it wasn’t personal. Bit dumb maybe. But not an ‘I hate Jenson’ thing so much as an ‘I’m fed up with McLaren’ thing.”
When Hamilton announced that he was leaving to partner Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, it saddened Jenson. “That was a shame for me; I’d enjoyed our rivalry. Off the track, however, he was still being a bit weird.”