Jenson Button believes McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s desire to regain the Formula One world title will ensure he bounces back in the wake of his recent double date with disaster.
It was a despondent Hamilton who departed Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit yesterday following a second successive accident.
After running into Felipe Massa’s Ferrari in Italy a fortnight ago, this time Hamilton came off worse in a collision with Mark Webber.
When luck is against you it shows no mercy because it was Hamilton and not Webber who immediately ended up retiring, in contrast to the Red Bull star who strengthened his championship lead by finishing third.
With another zero against his name Hamilton now trails Webber by 20 points with four races remaining, assuming the Korean Grand Prix is given the go-ahead following a final inspection on October 11.
These are tough times for the 25-year-old who now more than ever must dig deep into his reserves of will and fortitude to drag himself out of the mire.
After working alongside Hamilton for the last nine months and becoming appreciative of the type of character he is, Button knows his fellow Briton will hang in there.
“You have to feel for him because that was a tough way to end a grand prix,” said Button.
“He’s had accidents in the last couple of races now which obviously is not good for him.
“But he’s a pretty determined guy, a former world champion who is determined to win back the world championship.
“I don’t agree that someone comes back stronger after a couple of bad races.
“These last two races will have simply been frustrating for him not getting any points, ending up crashing out, which is tough.
“But when the championship is so tense and there are five fighting for it, then this sort of thing is going to happen, and it will not be the last time it’s going to happen to someone either.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who had to dig Hamilton out of his room in the brand centre at Monza following his error there, again had to put an arm around his driver’s shoulder in Singapore.
Whitmarsh, though, is convinced the fighter in Hamilton will emerge at the next race in Japan on October 10.
“I went to speak to Lewis and he was disappointed because he is a passionate individual,” said Whitmarsh.
“I told him people will take cheap shots, but that he had to look at the facts - he didn’t take a risky overtaking move, he didn’t make a mistake, he was unlucky, which is motor racing, and that he now has to focus on the races ahead.
“He knows that, but it doesn’t take away the disappointment from knowing he should have been on the podium and he should be leading the championship at this moment and he isn’t.
“The fact is he is still within one race win of leading this championship, so with four races left and 100 points, he has to go out there and win races.
“Of course after two races like he’s had, it is a bit bruising, but he is a tough competitor who will bounce back and be strong at Suzuka.
“What happened will be out of his mind when he gets there, and if we give him a quick car he can win that race. That is what he will focus on.”
Whilst the focus may be on Hamilton, Button himself is still far from out of the title picture, despite only finishing fourth in Singapore and dropping to 25 points behind Webber.
Exuding the kind of positivity that will eventually come to the fore for Hamilton once he has given himself time to overcome his bitter disappointment, Button knows how quickly things can change.
“The gap is still only a win away, so I have to believe I can still get it done,” said the reigning champion.
“I was leading by about 15 points this time last year with three or four races to go, and it was like ’wow, this is tense’, and that was just with two guys breathing down my neck.
“Mark has four guys breathing down his, and knowing which one to cover is quite difficult. You are going to have different cars quick at different circuits.
“So every race is going to get mixed up, and hopefully the next race will be our chance to shine.”