Hamilton vs Vettel: Jenson Button’s view
In the December issue of Motor Sport (on sale October 29), our Grand Prix editor Mark Hughes gets under the skin of this season’s top two Formula 1 cars, the Mercedes W08 and Ferrari SF70H, and explores the character traits of the two fastest men at their helms: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
Their Formula 1 careers are practically intertwined, both having made their race debuts in 2007, but – with Ferrari this year having come up with a car consistently capable of challenging Mercedes’ hybrid-era supremacy – the drivers’ rivalry has intensified. For the magazine feature Mark spoke to many of those best placed to analyse their strengths and weaknesses – and we also recently had the opportunity to solicit Jenson Button’s opinion. The Englishman was Hamilton’s team-mate for three seasons – and during his successful 2009 title campaign Vettel emerged as his closest challenger. These were his thoughts.
“Five years ago I would have said that Sebastian was the stronger character. When I was Lewis’s team-mate he was unbelievably quick, but mentally… You wouldn’t purposely try to hurt him, but it would just happen and he would crack.
“Now, with the experience Lewis has acquired over the years, racing against me and Nico Rosberg, he has changed. He’s become more confident. He knows how fast he is and I think it messed with his head occasionally if he had a race when he was nowhere. But now I feel he’s very strong mentally – probably the more so of the two.
“With Sebastian it’s tough to judge, because you don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. From what I’ve heard Ferrari puts a lot of pressure on everyone involved, so I don’t know if that causes his little outbursts. In Baku he did something silly in the heat of the moment: fair enough, he got punished, get over it, move on. I think it was his attitude that caused everyone to keep talking about it three or four weeks later.
“But if Lewis and Sebastian were perfect, we wouldn’t want to watch them. They wouldn’t make mistakes, they wouldn’t whinge, they wouldn’t get angry and it would be boring. We need that. We’re all emotional and that makes it fun. They need their demons.”
To read what others think, buy the December 2017 edition of Motor Sport from leading newsagents (Barnes & Noble in the USA) or visit shop.motorsportmagazine.com.