Jenson Button is a driver who had the chance and the opportunity to race for several teams. He made his Formula 1 debut with Williams in 2000 and he became the youngest British driver ever to start a Formula 1 race in Australia, he was 20 years old. The following year, Jenson moved to Benetton, but he didn’t stay for a long time. In 2002, Benetton became Renault and Jenson remained and raced with Jarno Trulli.
The British were replaced by Fernando Alonso in Renault, hence he was looking for a new team. In 2003, he signed a two years contract with BAR (British American Racing). Button’s new team-mate was Villeneuve. Jenson took his first podium in 2004 in Malaysian Grand Prix. In October 2006, Honda bought the remaining 55 percent of BAR and the team was renamed to Honda. Button stayed in Honda for two years and in 2009 Brawn acquired the Japanese team and signed a deal with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello who was Jenson’s teammate. It was the year, where Button won his one and only championship. At that season he won six of the seventeen races.
The following season, the Brit had to find a new team, as Brawn was bought from Mercedes. McLaren offered a three years deal to Jenson Button. Many didn’t agree with Jenson’s move, but I believe that Jenson found what he truly wanted. A team which will be surrounded by experienced staff and a team where he could be loyal. Button is still racing for McLaren, he moved there for three years, but he remained for seven years (he won’t be racing for McLaren next season).
During his years in McLaren, he had good and bad moments. Jenson’s debut was not very impressive, the British Champion finished seventh in Bahrain, but he won the second grand Prix of the season, which took place in Australia. At that season, Button finished 5th and he scored 214 podiums. He finished seven times on the podium and won two Grand Prix (Australia and China).
The following season it was Button’s second year in McLaren, Jenson won three races and finished second in the championship standings, behind Sebastian Vettel. It was Button’s best season with McLaren. The Brit celebrated a victory in Canada which was called as the best victory of his career. At the same season, he won two more races in Hungary and in Japan. Jenson scored 270 points for McLaren and finished 12 times on the podium.
In 2012, Jenson had a good season, but he finished fifth in the drivers’ standings just two points behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Button secured three victories for McLaren in 2012, in Australia, Belgium, and Brazil.
The next year was not positive for Button’s career. He managed to score just 73 points and his best position was in Brazil, where he finished fourth. In March of that season, Jenson announced that he wanted to remain in McLaren until his retirement. In 2014, Button had a new team-mate, Kevin Magnussen who replaced Sergio Perez and raced for McLaren. At the season premiere in Australia, Jenson finished fourth, Daniel Ricciardo, who finished second in the same race, disqualified. Hence, Jenson promoted to the third place. It was a poor season for the Brit champion. He finished eighth and collected 126 points.
In 2015, Jenson decided to renew his contract with McLaren. Fernando Alonso had also signed a contract with the British team and became Button’s new team-mate. Furthermore, McLaren had a new partner. Honda returned to Formula 1 as an engine supplier.
It was a very difficult season for McLaren-Honda because the new engine was unreliable. In 2015, Button finished 16th and collected just 16 points.
This season, McLaren-Honda has done huge steps forward and that is obvious from their results so far. Jenson is currently 15th and has scored 19 points with four races to go. McLaren announced that Jenson won’t race with them in 2017.
I believe, that Button found his paradise in McLaren. He looks very relaxed during the races and he is enjoying every moment. Despite the difficulties that McLaren had and still has he is trying to help and gives advice to his team. His experience is very helpful for McLaren-Honda and helped them to improve the performance of the car. Jenson has the option to return to McLaren as a race driver in 2018 and I hope that he will race for at least one more year.
Victor Archakis F1 Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @FP_Passion
(Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)