A thought from a reader

One of my readers has been watching the McLaren launch at the same time as I have been and writes that the body language between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button was interesting. “There is no love lost between those two drivers,” she says. “It reminded me of the scene in The Great Dictator, when Hynkel keeps raising his chair higher than Napolini’s…”

Cinema buffs among you will remember the scene from Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 movie in which Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomainia and Benzino Napolini, the dictator de Bacteria, meet and discuss invading Osterlich and end up trying to outdo one another – a satire on the realtionship between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Interesting thought…

23 thoughts on “A thought from a reader

  1. What a ridiculous comment! Why do people always feel the need to insinuate bad feeling, especially before they have even got into the cars!! Why can’t we just wait and see how it pans out?!

  2. Plus, I’m sure Jenson and Lewis wouldn’t take too kindly to being likened to Hitler and Mussolini?!!

    Heikki and Lewis had a great relationship, full of banter, but it was simply fact that Lewis was a far superior driver with more potential to win races than Heikki – naturally they would want to plough more effort into Lewis, if Heikki keeps making silly mistakes during races and can’t seem to follow through from qualifying.

    McLaren are a team with a huge sense of comradeship and will welcome Jenson with open arms, giving both drivers the attention they deserve.

  3. Because it was just funny that Lewis stood on the step, Jens didn’t, Lewis stepped down, Jens stepped up, Lewis followed him.
    first score to Jens.
    Believe me, the psych warfare will be fullbore between these two.

  4. Body language will always betray the attitude or state of mind of a person and it is often said that human communication consists of 93% body language and only 7% verbal use of language. I wouldn’t dismiss these early signs of tension too quickly.

  5. Didn’t seem to bad to me – obviously they’re not about to hold hands and start stroking each other’s hair – but if there isn’t a very healthy rivalry between them as team mates there’s something wrong. If the rleationship is slightly more frosty than between LH & HK it could be because JB is more of a threat?
    Also don’t forget they are standing on stage under bright lights so they wont be acting 100% normally and comfortably.
    Lewis did jump in when that womble of a journalist asked about who gets paid more which has to be commended, although Lewis probably only did so because he knows he’s getting paid twice as much!!
    Interesting though that Lewis was introduced by the compere first to unveil the car.

  6. I thought Lewis being happy to state “Jenson is number 1, so if we get a situation of only 1 piece being available he would get it the first time and me the second time” showed he was happy to extend a bit of an olive branch personally.

  7. I came in after the steps drama, and I thought how open and cheerful they both looked – maybe Lewis was a little quieter than JB, but isn’t that just like . . um, human beings – they have different characters?

    By the way, well said, Joe, in response to Luky’s comments 2 posts ago – what a terribly discourteous gentleman!

  8. @Hannah – it doesn’t need to be bad. Just a little gentle jostling and jockying for position! There was a comment on a pic in Autosport recently of the Ferrari lot at Wroom, where Alonson had his ski-tips juuuust a little in front of Massa!

    Of course much of this could be in our own heads, eager to see how those two battles will pan out (my early money is on Hamilton & Massa!). But its just a bit of fun.

    MacLaren and Vodaphone even turned it into an advert the other year where Alonso and Hamilton were pushing and shoving to get the best hotel room first. The ad was quickly pulled sadly when it really did start getting nasty!

  9. I guess that you can read what you like into these situations. I didn’t see any animosity or tension between the two drivers, and I’d be very surprised if I were to witness Jenson engaging in any psychological warfare – he’s never exhibited this trait at any point in his career.

    I might ask one of the body language specialists in the psychology department at work to take a look at the video to see if I’ve missed anything, though.


  10. I think it easy to read a little too much in the body language here. If I was on that stage in front of the worlds media, I would look a little auckward too.

  11. To be honnest I thought that the most telling thing was when Lewis leaped to Jenson defence against the, your payed less the Lewis therfore you must be number two question.

    Lewis in many ways, especially around other drivers lewis is rather an aloof guy, I don’t think the off track rivalry between these two is going to be such a dominaiting feature of the season.

    Regardless of what happens on track.

  12. You all paid so much attention to the drivers you missed commenting on the aero work on the car! It is staggering the details on that car! Loads of bits to fall of the front wing at the first corner when you touch another car! But the rear end treatment makes the new Ferrari look like amateur hour.

    Conventional wisdom was that you had to quit development (AKA Ferrari) mid season to be ready for 2010. Looks like McLaren got a wining car last year (little late, but it was good at the end) and still worked an impressive new aero design for 2010. Hope it performs as good as it looks!

    On the drivers the only thing that will count is tire management and Lewis has to change his driving style to match Jenson. McLaren knew this when they hired Button. Now Lewis can’t sit and whine the car is no good, he has to adapt to survive if his team mate is beating him. I think Jenson has the upper hand for 2010 until McLaren figure out how to handle the tires and let Lewis drive as he wants without running the tires off the rims before 8 laps are up! My guess is Jenson will start putting in a great last lap in qualifying that seems to come from no where! Now that will get into Lewis’s head. If the new qualifying rule that top 10 carry tires to the start of the race, Lewis gets hurt even more! Cant wait for the season to start! I dont care who wins, just let them fight it out on the track! That is what a race is all about! I will cheer every pass and every incident! I will then praise McLaren for not giving us a dull moment in 2010 ON THE TRACK!

    1. Adam,

      I am no a talented aerodynamicist. Perhaps you are. I prefer to see the car run on the track and then talk about it, rather than talking about it before it has run. Yes, it is exotic and obviously the team thinks it will work. At this time of year all teams think that their cars will work…

  13. I only caught the end of the launch but the body language was incredible. Lewis was not his normal self. He looked like a kid who had been told he had to be nice to his brother while the visitors were in the house and he had grudgingly accepted but had decided he would not smile. So there.

    I thought it was telling that when they were asked to pose with the car Jenson went straight to the wheel and sat on it forcing Lewis to stand beside him like his number two.

    I thought the two of them would get on but I now expect sparks to fly between those two. I thought Jenson was going to McLaren to see how good he and Lewis were against each other but I have never seen him like that with a team mate. I now think he looks more like Senna going into Team Prost where he is going to challenge every aspect of the incumbent’s authority. Unfortunately for him I don’t see him beig as successful in that endeavour as Senna was.

  14. I watched and thought Button looked extremely smug and almost like he thought he was better than Lewis. A friend at work (who isn’t into F1 so had “fresh” eyes) watched it and commented that Lewis looked very nervous.

    I think McLaren have spent so much energy bending over backwards to show that Hamilton isn’t being favoured in the team, that it seems like he is the one who is not getting equal treatment. This is because of all the snipers and haters and British media who imply that Hamilton has the McLaren team in his pocket.

    It would have been so much easier to have hired a decent no. 2 like Heidfeld, and scooped up the WDC and WCC, instead of having this ridiculous oneupmanship that I can see developing this year. I think Whitmarsh made a huge mistake in hiring Button – I find Button quite insufferable.

    I felt sorry for Lewis and I hope that he reigns surpreme in 2010, but who knows?

  15. @ Steven Roy

    “I thought it was telling that when they were asked to pose with the car Jenson went straight to the wheel and sat on it forcing Lewis to stand beside him like his number two.”

    Amazing how perceptions differ dependant on team or the players involved or even the spin wanted!

    @Merc ‘colour scheme launch’ Rosberg sitting on the wheel and Schumacher behind him was perceived the opposite way round.

  16. “Amazing how perceptions differ dependant on team or the players involved or even the spin wanted!

    @Merc ‘colour scheme launch’ Rosberg sitting on the wheel and Schumacher behind him was perceived the opposite way round.”

    I have only seen still pics of the Mercedes launch and can’t think of the picture you mention. The only one I recall commenting on is the picture where both drivers are sitting on a wheel and the difference in posture is stunning.

    I caught the last couple of minutes of the McLaren launch on video and as soon as they were asked to pose Jenson went straight to the wheel as if asserting his position. I don’t support a particular driver and I really don’t understand people who support a driver like a football team and regardless of the facts can only see what happened from his point of view. None of us however is entirely objective and I have to say I find it difficult not like Lewis’s approach and driving. For me he is the best driver around and I expect him to be the top driver for the next decade so I may be inadvertantly biased in my interpretation.

    I think the important thing is that assuming all the likely suspects build good cars we could be in for the best season in a very long time with lots of competitive drivers and several internecine battles. Personally I just can’t wait for it to be started.

  17. Hey, there are TWO gareth’s posting here (comment above was not mine). That needs to be sorted out ASAP, other gareth might know what he’s talking about 🙂

  18. @S Hughes

    Surely they have already hired a number 2? 😉

    And it really is quite hilarious how some people now seem to see Button as being arrogant.

    I could see nothing wrong between the two drivers during the launch, and neither could my wife, who’s a psychologist.

    I suppose that if you need to look for it, then you’ll find it.

    Going back to the Ferrari launch, my wife noticed that Domenicali seemed to be always sat between the two Ferrari drivers, and that one or two of Ferrari’s top people were more than a little bit more pleased to see Alonso than Massa.

  19. “I prefer to see the car run on the track and then talk about it, rather than talking about it before it has run.”

    It’s a good point – looking good in the showroom doesn’t mean it’ll be fast on the track.

    It’s therefore strange that people are doing exactly the same thing with the drivers of all things.

  20. @jprestidge


    The last world champion to try the pyschological warfare thing on Jenson was destroyed by Jenson.

    That was Jacques Villeneuve. When he entered F1 I was impressed – he gave Damon a run for the money and then
    battled hard with Schu. But by the time he left I couldn’t wait for him to leave.

    He was a perpetual moaning machine, and slow to boot.

    If Lewis tries this tactic on Jenson it will fail. Lewis needs to concentrate on beating him on track, not with silly games.

    @Adam Kelly.

    “Make Ferrari look like amateur hour”… How can you tell until you see the performance on the track?

    Just because something looks “cool” or “fast” doesn’t mean that it is fast. That comment is valid regardless of whether you are or are not an aero guy.

    In all fields of design, good ideas need to be validated, not just examined. Anyone remember the Triump TR7? Do I need to say anything more? (Think about how it looked when it was released, not looking at it now many decades later). If you haven’t heard of it, a one word summary: crap.

    The rest of your comments, re Lewis/Jenson + Tyres + Qualifying, I agree.

    BTW. Anywhere I can view this launch video post-launch? I’ve been ill and missed a lot the last few weeks – mainly unconcious, catching up on work, or too tired to care.

    @Steven Roy,
    Sitting on the wheel: That is really interesting. I always thought the guy sitting on the wheel was the number two – they look so un-natural in that pose.

    This years Mercedes shots were priceless. Rosberg looked like his was on strings – “FAB Scott, Thunderbirds are go!”.

    Now that I know the wheel guy is #1, it won’t change anything, I’ll still look at the picture and think the guy on the wheel is #2, then have to remember that isn’t the case.

  21. I wouldn’t read too much into a little step dancing. Sounds like something a journalist for the Sun or News of the World would try to insinuate. The Ferrari launch was far drier and devoid of buddy body language than Jenson and Lewis and I’ll hedge my bets on it kicking off in Maranello long before it kicks off in Woking.
    I can’t wait for next week. Agree with seeing the car on the track first but I don’t think we will be dissapointed with that Macca aero package. However we are yet to see Mr Newey’s latest baby and that could top the lot.

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