Jenson Button: the driver debates

Jenson Button, Honda, Barcelona, 2008, 470150

The subject of this week’s driver debate is Jenson Button, whose career has had more ups and downs than a malfunctioning elevator.

How do you rate Jenson Button – and will he ever win another race?

Jenson Button was a Formula Three driver in 1999 but the following season was catapulted into a drive with one of Britain’s most historic teams: Williams. It came about after Williams cut their contract with Alessandro Zanardi a year short, and needed a driver for one year until Juan Pablo Montoya came along.

Button did a very respectable job in his first season, scoring points in his second race (becoming the youngest driver ever to do so until Sebastian Vettel last year) and finishing an impressive fourth in the rain at the Hockenheimring. He qualified third on his first visit to the mighy Spa-Francorchamps.

A disastrous season at the declining Benetton followed, although he recovered the following season as the team became Renault. There was no place for him at the team any more though, as Flavio Briatore dropped him for his own man Fernando Alonso (which, you have to say, worked out alright for them).

So Button ended up at BAR where he’s been ever since, the team becoming Honda in 2006. He chased Jacques Villeneuve into retirement in his first season and came of age in 2004 with a string of podium finishes, though never able to beat the rampant Ferraris to claim that elusive first win.

It didn’t happen in 2005 either – the team were nowhere in the first half of the season and thrown out of three races for running with illegal fuel tanks.

Finally in 2006 after 115 attempts Button scored an opportunistic but badly deserved win in the rain at Hungary from 14th on the grid. He was assisted by Alonso’s retirement that day, but Button had been catching him at the time and we were robbed of what might have been a thrilling battle between the pair.

The season ended on a high. But 2007 was a disaster the likes of which Button could not possibly have imagined. The unpredictable and dog-slow RA107 made a mockery of his talent, and he scraped together just four points by the season’s end – though still four more than team mate Rubens Barrichello.

Is he a great talent struggling to escape inadequate machinery? It’s easy to assume that the best drivers automatically find their way into the best cars, but that isn’t always true.

However, Button didn’t exert the kind of cast-iron dominance over team mates like of Jarno Trulli early in his career that would have made him a ‘must-sign’ driver for McLaren or Ferrari.

The embarrassment of the two ‘Button-gate’ years of 2004 and 2005 (when Williams and BAR squabbled over his contract) has now receded into memory. Whatever debt of service he owed the team for trying to dump them during their excellent 2004 season it he has now surely paid for with the purgatory he suffered last year.

With Ross Brawn on board it’s time for Honda to give Button the car he deserves so he can go racing at the front again.

What do you think of Jenson Button?

Jenson Button biography

Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Spa-Francorchamps, 2000, 470313

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55 comments on Jenson Button: the driver debates

  1. Michael K said on 1st May 2008, 19:57

    "You don’t need to be a fan or work for his PR team to select some statistics and comment on them."
    Oh you don’t have to, but the likelyhood is that you are one of the two as noone would go through that many stats and present them in such a positive light if there wouldn’t be the motivation it behind it to do just that.
    You can do that, of course, and if you work for his PR team, then it’s a job well done I say!
    Yes, he ticks all the boxes for a team like Honda and no, he doesn’t for a top team, never has, never will.

  2. Michael Counsell said on 4th May 2008, 9:09

    It wasn’t too difficult just used wikipedia and I pretty much knew what I was gonna write anyway.  I’m a big fan of F1 and could pull stats like that out for pretty much anyone…  My only motivation is due to people using poor arguments to back up some kind of dislike.

  3. The Leicester Boy said on 23rd June 2008, 11:47

    Let’s just wait and see what happens next year as it will be a complete reset for all the teams and with Brawn Honda may be a leading team. But more importantly 2010 may be there best position and so we just have to pray. Hamilton is sooooo overated by ITV and Steve Rider the mic shaker with Hamilton being in the first or second best car with Jenson at the minute being in the eighth or ninth. Also the ITV coverage is always negative so come on BBC next year be nice.

  4. Sebastian said on 18th August 2008, 13:30

    If Button was anything other than british you’d be talking him off as rubbish and you guys know it.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th August 2008, 14:47

    Sebastian – Most people in these comments have taken the time to explain what they think of Button so I don’t think it’s fair to write off those who give him credit as being simple-minded jingoists. After all, it’s not as if you’ve taken the time to share your point of view.

  6. Dorian said on 18th August 2008, 14:56

    Jingoists!……nice word Keith! :-)

  7. Ginger said on 12th March 2009, 13:39

    Who can say that Jenson has not done well for the place he has been and lets hope that the Testing on Wednesday is right and that Hamilton is at the back for a couple of seasons. He has never lost it but has been in rubbish machinary. Role on 09 with Brawn G.P. fighting for both championships as they have two good drivers but Button is sooooo much better than Rubeans.

  8. hmmm….that was an interesting read.

  9. Scribe said on 20th December 2009, 15:25

    I think he’ll become the 2009 world Champion lol.

  10. Hey there..Great Site you have here! Just wanna leave a short info to suit your needs about how you can blow the girl’s head at the next Barbeque-Party!

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