- Sir Stirling Moss
'Button is seeing the bigger picture'Sir Stirling Moss April 23, 2010
- Fernando Alonso
- Jenson Button
- Peter Collins
- Lewis Hamilton
- Felipe Massa
- Stirling Moss
- Nico Rosberg
- Michael Schumacher
- Sebastian Vettel
- Mark Webber
The story in Shanghai, just like in Melbourne, was all about Jenson Button. Both the races he's won, he's done it because he made the right decision. He's taken victory by using his head and that shows he is working at a very high level in the car. So far this season I've been saying Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have been the top drivers, now I'm happy to say Jenson has joined them.
Looking at the McLaren driver pairing, the most exciting without a doubt is Hamilton but it's Jenson who's calmly getting the job done. When he went to McLaren over the winter I said to him, "You've put your head in the lion's mouth now," to which he calmly replied: "It'll be interesting". And I think it is interesting, because Hamilton has shown immense talent coming through the field but Button has out-qualified him and scored more points. The difference is that Button is thinking properly. It reminds me of the story of the young bull and the old bull. The two of them are stood at the top of the field and the young bull says to the old bull, "Let's run down there and screw one of those cows." To which the old bull replies, "No, let's walk down there and screw the lot of them". A crude analogy maybe, but Button is seeing the bigger picture and he's winning.
It's good to see the two of them have a genuinely good relationship too. Obviously they want to beat each other, but I was pleased to see Hamilton congratulate his team-mate so enthusiastically in China. Looking back at my career, I was very good friends with some of my closest rivals. I got on very well with Pete Collins for example, but that didn't stop me wanting to beat him on the track and he felt exactly the same way. So you can battle someone very hard in the races and still be good friends afterwards. Ultimately, Hamilton and Button's friendship is a good thing for McLaren and it should benefit both of them this season.
However, I do think it's a great shame Hamilton has split from his father Anthony. I can compare that to the relationship I had with my father, because he used to help me out at races and we'd talk about all sorts of things. It's important to have that confidential release away from the media spotlight and to have someone you can really trust. I don't think Lewis would have got involved in that scrape with the police in Australia had his father been there, not that the incident bothers me, but it wasn't good for his preparations for the race. Anthony was a very positive influence at the races and Lewis has lost that now.
Another place where the relationship might not be as rosy as it once was is at Ferrari. Alonso pulled a pretty saucy move on Felipe Massa to ensure he was first in the pits for fresh tyres in Shanghai. More than anything that really showed Alonso's character; that's the kind of man he is, he's a racer. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing because I would have done the same if I'd been in that situation.
But if I were to put myself in Massa's shoes, a man who is facing doubt about his future with rumours he might be replaced by Robert Kubica in 2011, I'd be keen to show the team what I'm made of. If Ferrari is considering Kubica, Massa has to convince the boss he is making a mistake, and if that means being ruthless to Alonso in return then so be it. There's certainly no point in getting angry about it because that won't get him anywhere. It'll be interesting to see how that situation evolves.
A lot of media focus has also been cast on Michael Schumacher after his disappointing start to the season. People say it's because he's been away for three years and that sort of stuff, but I'm going to stick to what I said at the start of the season: Until now, he's never had a truly competitive team-mate. His seven world titles are, in my mind, misleading and I think we are seeing proof of that now he is up against Rosberg. What's more I'm not sure he is taking F1 as seriously as he was earlier in his career. You need a compulsion to be there, you can't just do it for fun, and I don't think Schumacher has that compulsion anymore. To win you need to believe that there is no way anybody else can beat you and, frankly, I don't think he's in that kind of mindset. It seems as though this year is just part of his retirement rather than an extension of his career.
I hear Mercedes has got some big updates coming to the car and a lot of people are saying that will benefit Schumacher. But I think an intelligent team like Mercedes will develop the car to suit both drivers, so I don't see the order changing anytime soon. Rosberg has proved himself as the team's No.1 and he's been faster than Schumacher in all circumstances. That will be an enormous boost for his self-confidence and that will filter back to the team. Earlier I said that Button had joined my top three drivers, but I wouldn't say the same about Rosberg just yet. We shouldn't let our judgement be clouded by the fact he is beating Schumacher as that isn't quite the achievement it used to be.
Despite a poor race in China, by the time we get to Spain Red Bull will still be the team to beat. Adrian Newey has built a fantastic car and now it's down to the people at the track to make sure it takes the wins it deserves. Mark Webber will improve this season but Vettel is the one to watch, he's such a great talent. Barcelona might not offer the best racing, but with all the updates and intra-team battles up and down the paddock, I'm sure they'll still be plenty to talk about in my next column.