Jenson Button says difficulty in adjusting to a bad car is where he lacked skill, compared to the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Moving from Brawn after his 2009 championship, the Briton joined McLaren for the commencement of the 2010 season.
He would go on to finish fifth in the Drivers’ Championship during his maiden year with the team. Followed by second for 2011 and fifth in 2012. Prior to McLaren experiencing a slump in the standings for the next several years.
During his time at Woking, Button mixed it up with both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as teammates. Getting to experience the driving styles of two great competitors. But while Button was no slouch behind the wheel, he says there is one thing that his teammates could do that he struggled with.
“One thing I’ve not been able to get over is driving a bad car,” Button said to the High Performance Podcast. “That’s my weakness. Lewis and Fernando Alonso can jump in a bad car and get more out of it than I can. That’s probably my weakness.
“My strength is the way I drive is very different to most. For example, Lewis comes into a corner – it’s great because I have all the speed traces and everything from the data when we were teammates – but hammers the brake as hard as he can, there’s no modulation, turns into the corner, goes on the throttle, the same amount of pressure every time, and he does everything through the steering wheel.
“Whereas I was the complete opposite. I would brake and modulate it, to stop front locking, and I would come on the throttle and modulate the throttle, so I didn’t have to change my steering angle.
“So I’d be smooth on the steering. They’d say, ‘Oh, he looks so smooth’. It’s just because that’s what I would use very differently than someone like Lewis. That hurt me in some ways, but it helped me in those mixed conditions really feel the condition underneath me.”
While contemplating signing with McLaren for 2010, the history between Hamilton and Alonso during their tumultuous 2007 season came to Button’s mind. One ultimatum he had for the team surrounded the equal treatment of both drivers. If the cards were stacked in Lewis’ favour, he wanted no part in the venture.
“I remember walking into McLaren and the first thing I said before I met anyone, I spoke to Martin Whitmarsh, I spoke to Ron Dennis, and I said, ‘My first question is, is this Lewis’ team, am I going to have equal treatment here?’,” said Button.
“Because if I’m not, I don’t want to be here. And they said, ‘Yes, everything will be 100 percent equal between both of the drivers’.”
“I said now I can start and then I walked in, met everyone, and got a pretty good rapport with the team very quickly.”