Hamilton feud with Button brews after German Grand Prix
English drivers in verbal clash as Button questions Mercedes rival's approach after collision
At times this season it has appeared that Formula 1 is a sport contested only by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, but after the German Grand Prix Hamilton's former team-mate Jenson Button risked sparking a feud with his compatriot by pointedly reminding him that there are other cars on the track.
Hamilton and Button came together on the 30th lap of the race, inevitably won by Rosberg, as Hamilton charged through the field on his way to a third place finish. A crash in qualifying on Saturday had forced him to start from 20th on the grid.
"I think the problem with Lewis is he expected me to let him past," said an angry Button afterwards. "It would make it boring if we all let him past when he was coming through the field."
He questioned why other cars should give way to the Mercedes drivers and added: "I don't think I'm the only person he drove into today. It's strange, when the car's so much quicker you'd think he wouldn't get into so [many] fights but there you go."
Hamilton was initially contrite over the incident, which left him with a damaged front wing. He said he thought Button had run wide at the hairpin to let him through and described the incident as "my bad on judgment".
But he later hardened his position and expressed "surprise" at Button's comments. "He knows I'm much quicker, so rather than waste time battling with me, he can see me coming and he gives me space and doesn't close the door," he said.
Button appeared to move in the other direction and took to Twitter after the race to admit he may have "over-reacted".
Hamilton was charging through the field with "just a little too much swash and buckle" when he ran into Button, says The Times. But the paper questions Button's expectations. "They weren’t really racing because Button finished a distant eighth," notes the paper.
Website Planet F1 agrees and suggests Button reviews some old races in which drivers are told "not to lose time fighting a driver coming through the field because they're not racing them".
It has some rather catty advice for the McLaren driver: "Button could also listen to some of Dan Ricciardo's post-race interviews and have a motto inscribed on his steering wheel - 'Moan Less'."
Perhaps it is the relative positions of the two drivers in the F1 hierarchy this season that annoyed the McLaren man. "Button, struggling with an uncompetitive McLaren this season, is used to the cut and thrust of racing in the midfield and clearly did not feel the need to make exceptions for his former team-mate," says The Guardian.