Now Ross Brawn says the same in Autosport, Hamilton is important because he is the reference the team needed:
"Lewis brings a great reference .... We will not be lacking in achieving our ambitions and objectives because of drivers. We'd only be lacking because we haven't built a strong enough car or because we haven't operated as a team strongly enough. I think it was a little unfortunate with Michael [Schumacher] because we didn't have these references. "
We can see the same with Ferrari and Red Bull. Both teams know that if results aren't coming it is because the car is slow. Alonso and Vettel can be trusted to consistently extract near everything from the car.
Where does that leave McLaren and Williams? Take Button as an example. In Canada last year Jenson struggled with front end grip and ended up 1-2 seconds off the pace. The problem wasn't the car but the driver. In Hungary this year Jenson ended up around 1 second off the pace as he struggled with front end grip. Was it a problem with the car or as the year before with the driver? Now Button is a very quick driver but he lacks consistency.
How can a team handle development with inconsistent drivers? Should midfield teams focus more on drivers that can adapt easily, are consistent but lack absolute pace instead of fast drivers that lack consistency?