Jenson Button

PROFILE

It took nine years in the top-flight, buJenson Button finally achieved his boyhood dream in 2009 when he became Formula One World Champion. His talent and desire had been questioned on a number of occasions during his F1 career, but with the ultimate accolade next to his name and a long-term McLaren contract in his pocket he is now one of the paddock’s most respected drivers.

From a very young age he was earmarked for big things and graduated from karting to grand prix racing in just two years. His skill was obvious from the start and he was revered by his karting contemporaries Anthony Davidson and Lewis Hamilton. Formula Ford was the next proving ground and he duly won the British Championship in his debut season. The following year he moved to Formula 3 and again impressed, catching the eye of some members of the F1 paddock.

A successful test with the Prost F1 team led to his name gaining widespread recognition and a number of testing contracts were offered to him. But Frank Williams blew them all out of the water and shocked everyone, including Button, by signing the 20-year-old to become second driver for 2000.

A solid rookie year followed but Williams replaced him with Juan Pablo Montoya for 2001 and Button moved to Benetton. At his new team he had his first experience of driving an uncompetitive car and was overshadowed by his experienced team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Benetton morphed into Renault in 2002, but by 2003 Button had to make way for Flavio Briatore’s protégé Fernando Alonso. However, BAR team principal David Richards still saw potential in the Briton and signed him to partner Jacques Villeneuve, who he went on to outperform and replace as the team leader the following year.

His first podium finally came in 2004, along with a pole position at Imola and third place in the drivers’ championship behind the dominant Ferrari pair of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Yet questions were still being asked, as by his 114th race Button still hadn’t won a grand prix. Then came the 13th round of the 2006 world championship in Hungary and at last a change of luck. An unexpected rainstorm meant the tight Hungaroring circuit was open for overtaking, allowing him to pick his way through the field from 14th place on the grid to the top step of the podium.

Despite the win the worst was yet to come. Honda produced a pair of forgettable cars for the 2007 and 2008 seasons before pulling out altogether and leaving Button without drive for 2009. The well worn but still magical Brawn fairy-tale then followed and Button finally took the title with six victories over the course of the season.

At the end of the year he shocked several onlookers by joining Lewis Hamilton at McLaren to form the ultimate British dream team. At the time he was criticised for leaving a championship-winning team and moving to one built around his team-mate, but two wins early in the season soon silenced the doubters.

In 2011 he emerged as the most serious challenger tSebastian Vettel, putting together a strong run of form in the second half of the season that saw him take three victories in a run of eight podiums in the final nine races. The highlight was the Japanese Grand Prix where he outpaced both Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the dry, and he ended the year as runner-up to become the first team-mate to beat Lewis Hamilton over a whole season.

2012 started with an impressive victory at the Australian Grand Prix, but McLaren lost its way during the middle of the season and Button struggled with set-up issues. His chances of fighting for the title slowly faded, but a victory at the final round in Brazil gave him confidence as he prepared to lead McLaren into battle in 2015.

His record against Hamilton was impressive – over three seasons he outscored his team-mate 672 points to 657 – but he was unable to carry a poor car in 2015 as McLaren endured a disastrous season and failed to score a podium. One of the reasons was attributed to Button not being pushed hard enough by new team-mate Sergio Perez, so 2015 will make for intriguing viewing when he’s joined by McLaren’s latest protégé Kevin Magnussen.

Strengths and Weaknesses 
Telemetry can prove that Button is one of the most technically perfect drivers on the grid. However, throw in a few variables, such as cold tyres or a car with a tendency for oversteer, and Button struggles to adapt.

Career High
His championship winning 2009 season and his performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix which finally sealed the deal and silenced the critics who were suggesting he was not earning his title.

Career Low
114 races without a victory.

Quotes
“If I’m not winning, I don’t give a damn who else is. It doesn’t make any difference to me if I’m not in a competitive car. I can’t be bothered with working my nuts off and qualifying fourteenth any more. It’s making me unhappy.”

When asked to choose between Mansell and Piquet: “Mansell. Because I like the guy and he’s got a great moustache – or at least he used to have a great moustache.”

Trivia
Button is the proud owner of a 1956, split windscreen, Volkswagen campervan. The Brit has a large garage of exotic cars but sold his Bugatti Veyron in 2009 for around £900,000.

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