Nov.17 (GMM/Inautonews.com) He “destroyed” Fernando Alonso as a rookie in 2007, but this season Lewis Hamilton underestimated his current McLaren teammate Jenson Button.

That is the claim of the British team’s boss Martin Whitmarsh, who admitted to F1’s official website that Hamilton has endured an unusually bad season in 2011.

“Lewis expects more from himself and the world expects more from Lewis. There’s been a lot going on in his life,” he said.

At the same time, countryman Button – written off by some who thought he was entering Hamilton’s “lion’s den” after his championship year – has surprised the F1 world by beating his highly rated teammate this season.

“Jenson … is a person that is easily underestimated,” Whitmarsh acknowledged, referring to the 31-year-old’s “superb manner”.

“Sometimes that might be a worry before you know him better, but I have to say that I know him a lot better now.”

Whitmarsh thinks Hamilton also underestimated Button initially.

“Possibly. He probably did, yes. Let’s be open about it,” he said.

“Lewis, throughout his career, has destroyed every teammate that’s come his way. Bear in mind that in many ways he virtually destroyed Fernando Alonso when Fernando was a two-time world champion and Lewis was a rookie.”