Skip navigation
F1 Opinion 12

Jenson Button for the 2012 Formula 1 title?

Some of you may have noticed the absence of any predictions ahead of the 2012 season.

Many of you may have been relieved that I did not attempt to read the tea leaves, bearing in mind how far wide of the mark I was last year.

Just for fun, however, I had a wager with a friend on the Australian Grand Prix because I was convinced that I knew what might happen in the opening race of the season.

Believe this or not, I predicted that Hamilton would be on pole and that Button would win the race. Yes, really, I did.

Bolstered by this success, I now predict that McLaren will win the Constructor’s title this season and that Jenson Button will win his second Driver’s World Championship.

opinion  Jenson Button for the 2012 Formula 1 title?

Yes, yes, I know it’s very early days and we cannot predict the price of oil in six months time. And yes, we know that we must never underestimate the genius of Adrian Newey, the skill of Vettel and the resources of Red Bull. Not to mention Ferrari, who were shamed in Australia, and will be galvanised to take radical action.

These caveats aside, I believe that McLaren has built a very good car, and one which is very driveable. I further sense that Button is absolutely at the top of his game. Very fit, very confident and very much loved by his team. On the contrary, I sense that Hamilton is somehow on the back foot and that the love affair with McLaren is over. These are tough guys, not prone to much self-doubt, but something is not right in the Hamilton camp, his life is – for whatever reason – out of kilter, and his demeanour after the first race was less than positive.

opinion  Jenson Button for the 2012 Formula 1 title?

I have said this before, and I say it again. I have no truck with those who tell me that motor racing is boring, just cars going round and round. Grand Prix racing, in particular, is never boring because people are more interesting than cars. People are not (yet) designed and controlled by computers. Team dynamics are not planned on spreadsheets. It will be the people, and the relationships, that govern the outcome of what appears to be such a close season. Button and Hamilton at McLaren is the most intriguing example. There is also Alonso – can Ferrari satisfy his ambitions? And Vettel – will he adapt to fighting for wins? And Räikkönen – will Grosjean bring out the best in him?

Ferrari may recover rapidly, but Massa is not on good form, his head is down. Red Bull will get on terms, but the odds are stacked against Vettel taking three titles in a row. The field is too closely matched, the blown diffusers have gone, and Red Bull can no longer use the highly sophisticated Renault engine mapping which helped to make their diffuser so effective. They will win races, as probably will Ferrari (with Alonso), and Lotus look competitive, but overall I think the McLaren will deliver what it promised in pre-season testing.

opinion  Jenson Button for the 2012 Formula 1 title?

I have, as some of you will know, been proved wrong in the past. But I think that a highly competitive, and closely matched, season will suit Button’s approach and new maturity. He won’t be on pole too many times, he won’t win every race, but he will be right there all year when it matters. Calm and consistent may be the key this year. He has both qualities, plus talent to spare, a tactical brain and huge confidence both in, and out, of the car.

You will have your own ideas after the race in Malaysia. Things change so fast in F1 these days, the cars constantly in development, but I’d like to be right this time.





Add your comments

12 comments on Jenson Button for the 2012 Formula 1 title?

  1. Livo, 23 March 2012 12:06

    Bang on in my opinion too. For what it is worth.

    Come on, how much did you win on your pole/race prediction?

  2. Ray T, 23 March 2012 16:09

    “Bolstered by this success, I now predict that McLaren will win the Constructor’s title this season and that Jenson Button will win his second Driver’s World Championship.”

    Oh, careful Rob, this will bite you hard in a few months. It’s one race. 2 hours in a very long season. Clearly, Ferrari is already out, but RBR is not to be discounted that quickly.

  3. Martin01, 23 March 2012 20:20

    No, RBR and a number of teams can’t be discounted that quickly. But the McLaren 2012 is by far the quickest and most reliable so far and, if 2011 and Red Bull are anything to go by as they left the rest of the field for dead, Rob may just be right. We’ll see, last year the great earlier races won by Sebastian carried them to victory when they seemed to falter a little, much later in the season. McLaren have come out of the blocks fastest and the car is as dominant in practice and race conditions as the 2011 Red Bull given that the rest of the 2012 field seem to have successfully closed up with, and in some respects, overtaken, some of 2011′s big guys. Don’t think its much help comparing the driver’s styles and temperaments though, its important that they already show respect and like each other. And well, we’ll see about the rest of the season.

  4. Michael Spitale, 23 March 2012 23:15

    I am pulling for Vettel… I must say Button gets better with age, but Vettel is the fastest man in F1 in my opinion… He needs to keep finishing in the top 3 and hope the RB is ready to win sooner than later

  5. Alex Milligan, 24 March 2012 04:49

    Michael, I will declare my preference for Button, I just love his smooth unruffled style, which often suggests he is not as fast as Vettel & Hamilton.
    I already see parallels between Vettel & Schumacher (no prizes for that one!!), and before he is declared a true great, for me SV must, must switch teams and win in another car.
    What I hope for more than anything though is a true competition all year, no single car/driver combination dominating like last season.
    JB is driving beautifully and seems to have confidence in the new McLaren, Hamilton looks ruffled and worried already – unravelling may be the appropriate term, lets see.
    Looks like a vintage season in oprospect and lets hope that Kimi can join the top 5 straight away – initial signs are encouraging as he is clearly on the pace from the get go.

  6. Marty Harris, 24 March 2012 10:47

    And just as Nigel Mansell predicted, now that Merc’s built a car with a bit of pace Schumacher is stepping up to the plate. And what pace we’re seeing already from Raikkonen! Six world champions, all on top form … we truly are in for a golden season.

  7. Lewis Lane, 24 March 2012 11:19

    As much as JB increasingly impresses me with every race, if i was to place a bet it would be on Vettel. I’m with Michael Spitale in thinking that certain races and situations will favour JB over Lewis, and vice versa. Rarely are they both fully competetive in the same race due to their differing approaches and styles. Vettel just has to keep splitting them, and then pick up the wins as they come… Consistency may be the key. It will be a close run thing this year, methinks.

  8. Henrik Smedberg, 24 March 2012 17:46

    I´ve allways regarded Jenson high and was very happy to see him win the championship. His driving may not be spectacular like Ronnie Peterson however he is more like one of my downhill skiing idols – Ingemar Stenmark – it just look very smooth. It is great to see and I keep my fingers crossed for 2012

  9. Tony Geran, 25 March 2012 22:10

    Rob, I totally agree, as per my comments made before Melbourne here. I always thought Jenson would win in Melbourne for some reason, just wish I had backed my hunch with some money, oh well. I reckon that Webber is set for a good year also – when did he last outqualify the wunderkind two races in a row – and with no KERS as well in Melbourne. Ok Malaysia produced a strange result, a Sauber battling for the lead no less, reminds me of those strange results we used to get at the Osterreichring in the ’70s, you know the Siffert, Brambilla, Watson, Jones wins etc.

  10. rob widdows, 26 March 2012 11:16

    Thanks very much everyone for joining in what may well make me look a bit silly by the end of the season. But, despite the lunacy of such an early prediction, I am standing by my prognostication, for better or for worse…………
    Sadly, I did not win a large sum of money on Melbourne because my friends will not take me on with bug bets when it comes to Grand Prix racing. For whatever reason, they assume I must know what I’m talking about……….!
    Anyway, as Alonso himself said after the race in Malaysia, nothing has changed. Well, Perez may have claimed his place at Ferrari, but otherwise not much can be deduced from such a topsy-turvy weekend. It has to be said that Button did not cover himself in glory……………….
    I suspect the next encounter, in Shanghai, will be more meaningful, in that the teams will have had some time to make significant changes. As you all say above, we are in for a great season and yes, there are plenty of suprises in store.
    I wonder how long it will be before Sauber is ‘persuaded’ to part with Perez.

  11. rob widdows, 26 March 2012 11:17

    That should be big bets, of course, not bug bets, whatever they may be.

  12. Tony Geran, 27 March 2012 00:56

    They’re called bug bits in New Zealand, Rob….

Similar content


Formula 1′s minimum weight limit


Nigel Roebuck looks at the problems caused by Formula 1′s minimum weight limit


Overtaking your team-mate


After watching Massa and Bottas in Malaysia Andrew Frankel sought the opinion of Sir Stirling Moss


Driver rotation: gimmick or fix?


Mark Hughes wants to know what you think about the idea of driver rotation between teams in Formula 1



Rob Widdows

Read Rob's profile and more …