McLaren made no change to the British pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button which had been their line up since 2010. And although they weren’t the fastest team in pre-season but when they got to Australia they locked out the front row. They couldn’t have asked for a better start. On race day, Hamilton lost 1st place to Jenson Button who drove a faultless race to win the season-opener. Hamilton dropped from 1st to 3rd during the race to finish behind Sebastian Vettel in 2nd place.
Hamilton yet again grabbed pole position in Malaysia, two weeks later. Unluckily, lightning struck twice for the 2008 World Champion and he dropped to 3rd in the race. Jenson Button danced with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan and was left down in a lonely 14th place. Hamilton qualified 2nd in China but was demoted to 7th for a gearbox change, making it up to 3rd place, for the third consecutive time, while Button finished right ahead of him in 2nd.
Hamilton had an awful race in Bahrain. He had not one, but two awful pit stops which were both over ten seconds long and both caused by problems with his rear left wheel. He was also nearly sent into the barriers when Nico Rosberg pushed him off the track when he tried to overtake the German. Lewis eventually scraped 8th place while Jenson Button frustratingly pulled in to retire on the penultimate lap with an exhaust issue, getting classified as 18th.
In Spain, Hamilton grabbed pole by half a second but stopped out on track and was later disqualified for running out of fuel and not leaving enough for a sample to be taken. He was demoted to 24th which boosted Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado to 1st. Lewis eventually made it to a respectable 8th place ahead of Jenson Button who finished 9th. Button had a dismal race in Monaco, being held behind Heikki Kovalainen for a large part of the race, eventually crossing the line in 16th while Hamilton finished in 5th place.
Montreal brought McLaren’s 2nd win of the season when Hamilton crossed the line first, fending off Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean to become the 7th winner in as many races. Button had yet another dismal race and finished 16th, as he had done in Monaco a week earlier. In Valencia, Lewis Hamilton was in 3rd place until in the closing laps of the race, he was hit by Maldonado in a botched overtake attempt, sending the Brit into the barriers. Button made it into the points for the first time since Spain when he finished in 8th.
Silverstone was both Button and Hamilton’s home race and Button suffered from home nerves. He had massive difficulty getting a competitive time in Q1 in the mixed conditions and at the last second, he was about to set a good lap to make it into Q2 when Timo Glock spun his car, forcing Button to slow down and loose his chance, qualifying 18th. He at least made it into the points when he finished 10th, not far behind Hamilton in 8th.
Germany saw a peculiar incident for Hamilton. He ran over debris on the second lap and suffered a puncture, then asking to retire the car when he couldn’t win the race. The team refused to let him retire but later called him in to save the gearbox. Button showed an improvement from his recent bad form to finish in 3rd place, being promoted to 2nd when Vettel was penalised for passing him off track.
In Hungary, Hamilton won his second Grand Prix of the season, his 19th all time, when he beat Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean to the line. Button finished 6th at the track which gave the Brit his first win in 2006.
Hamilton was wiped out in the massive pile up at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, when Grosjean pushed over into Hamilton leaving the Brit powerless as he mounted the Lotus before being flung backwards out of the race. Button on the other hand, avoided the carnage and won the race from pole position.
Button retired in Monza with a fuel pressure problem while Lewis Hamilton fended off Sergio Perez to win his third race of the season. In Singapore, Hamilton was looking good to win the race before a gearbox failure knocked him out of the lead, giving Sebastian Vettel the win. Button reeled in the German but couldn’t pass him, finishing in 9th.
It was between Singapore and Suzuka that Hamilton was announced at Mercedes for 2013, giving Michael Schumacher the boot. It was a much speculated move, first highlighted by Irish pundit and former team-owner, Eddie Jordan.
Jenson Button finished just shy of the podium in Suzuka, grabbing 4th place behind Kamui Kobayashi as Lewis Hamilton finished 5th in an un-competitive race to celebrate his contract with Mercedes. Korea saw Button wiped out by Kobayashi on the first lap while Hamilton went on to finish 10th, getting astro-turf stuck to his sidepod on the way to the flag.
Hamilton finished 4th in India while Button finished 5th, setting the fastest lap and robbing Vettel of a Grand Chelem. Lewis Hamilton was on the pace of his life in Abu Dhabi, leading in Practice and Qualifying but was again wiped out of the race when his car gave up on him, gifting Kimi Raikkonen the win, while Button raced on to finish 4th.
Hamilton won the inaugural Austin Grand Prix after spectacularly catching and passing Sebastian Vettel for the lead of the race, which was Hamilton’s 4th win in the season. Button finished down in 5th place.
And so they headed to Brazil for the last race. Hamilton and Button both had fantastic pace and were both racing Nico Hulkenberg for the lead of the race at different times. Lewis was leading the race when he was taken out by Hulkenberg when the German slid wide during an overtake, breaking his left steering column and forcing him to retire. Button swooped in to take full advantage to win the last race, having won the first race of the season, first race after the summer break and the last race.
Season in a Paragraph:
The McLarens had a good start to the season with Button’s race win in Australia. It took Hamilton until Montreal to win his first race but he was generally on the pace, unlike Button who suffered a bad couple of races from Bahrain to Valencia. Button came back with a bang, winning in Belgium while Hamilton was unfairly taken out of the race in Singapore and Abu Dhabi with car failures. Button took the win in Brazil while Hamilton retired, perhaps a sign of what to come for Lewis when he joins a seemingly uncompetitive Mercedes?