GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #25 - Jenson Button

19-02-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #25 - Jenson Button

Hi there and welcome to the second half of GPBlog’s Top 50 drivers of all time! We’re counting down one driver a day until the first race of the 2020 season at Albert Park in Melbourne. Yesterday we looked at the career of the one and only James Hunt, and today is all about another British F1 champion, Jenson Button.

Button made his F1 debut with Williams in 2000 and scored points in just his second race, following up a P6 in Brazil with fifth in Britain just a few weeks later.

Some more points finishes capped off a decent debut season, and he moved to Benetton for 2001, although it was a struggle and he wasn’t able to hit the heights of his debut season.

A promising year with Renault in 2002 showed his potential, but a move to BAR Honda in 2003 made it four teams in as many years.

However at BAR Honda he was finally able to put his smooth but quick driving style as he scored ten podiums in 2004 but was unable to break past the dominating Ferraris to win a race. He finished the season third and there was a belief he could push on in 2005.

The team weren’t as good in 2005 though and he only scored 37 points, but in 2006 he finally got his maiden F1 win, coming from 14th on the grid to take the win in changeable conditions.

Two poor seasons followed before Button’s career was put into doubt after Honda’s sudden withdrawal from the sport. Fortunately, Ross Brawn bought the team out and unbelievably, they produced the best car on the grid.

Button incredibly took pole and the win in Australia and then did it again at race two in Malaysia. Third in China kept up the momentum before he returned to winning ways.

Consecutive victories in Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Turkey put him 26 points clear of teammate Rubens Barrichello, but the season was about to get more difficult.

Brawn didn’t have the money to develop their car are much as their rivals, so the season became harder for Button, who finished in the lower points in the next four races.

P2 in Italy put the championship challenge back on track, but with the charging Sebastian Vettel, Button had to keep his cool. He only managed to qualify fourteenth in Brazil, but a P5 finish in the race secured his only world title in one of F1’s best underdog stories ever.

He moved to McLaren for 2010, joining Lewis Hamilton at the team. He won two of the first four races, leading the championship, but went winless for the rest of the season as he could only manage P5 in the standings.

2011 was a vintage Button year, taking an incredible win in one of the best races ever in Canada and further victories in Hungary and Japan, securing second in the standings behind the dominant Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.

He took three further wins in 2012 but McLaren’s time at the top was over, with his win in Brazil being McLaren’s most recent to date.

From then on we only saw glimpses of Button’s talent, with the McLaren not competitive enough to fight at the front anymore.

He retired at the end of 2016, apart from a one-off appearance at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

Button was a gentleman racer who wasn’t blessed with the ultimate speed some of his rivals had, but he had a style of being kind to the car and tyres. When he got his big chance in 2009 he took full advantage and will be remembered as one of the best underdog stories in F1 history.

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