We Celebrate Jenson Button’s Top F1 Moments As He Prepares To Take Some Time Off
Jenson Button has been a stalwart of Formula One since 2000, and in his 16½ years on the F1 scene it’s fair to say that he’s achieved a fair bit.
But the British veteran won’t be driving in Formula One next season, having stated he needs some time away from its mad schedule.
That makes us sad.
Instead, young Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne will be taking his place for 2017, McLaren has announced.
Button will continue in a consultancy role for the 2017 season, with McLaren having the option of putting him in one of the cars for 2018.
After being a solid midfield and podium contender for the early part of his career, Button got the first victory many believed he deserved at Hungary in 2006, and went on to win 15 races and one brilliant world championship in 2009.
So here at SU, we decided to list the top five race wins from what has been a long and entertaining career from JB.
5. Belgian Grand Prix 2012
This was a supreme full weekend from JB, who qualified on pole and drove away from everyone in a superb performance in an under-par season. As the longest and one of the most challenging circuits on the Grand Prix calendar, Button led every lap in a dominant display at Spa-Francorchamps, which saw Sebastian Vettel fight from tenth on the grid to second.
The race was remembered, however, for the massive accident at the start between Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean. In a scary incident, Grosjean earned a one-race ban after crashing over Alonso and Hamilton into the first corner at La Source.
4. Hungarian Grand Prix 2011
It was a race built for Button. Changeable conditions, tricky track surface and with the rather good McLaren MP4-26 under him, Button took advantage of others’ misfortunes to battle to his 11th career win in his 200th Grand Prix.
After teammate Hamilton spun and then also changed to intermediate tyres too soon, before suffering a drive-through penalty, it was a straight fight with defending champion and championship leader Vettel.
Thanks to a well-earned reputation for having a feel for the damp conditions, Button was able to steal away and win by three and a half seconds ahead of the season-dominating Red Bull.
3. Japanese Grand Prix 2011
In a country which he has close ties with, Button managed to hold his nerve under sustained pressure from Ferrari’s Alonso and Red Bull’s world champion-elect Vettel.
Overtaking the German following safety car pit stops, who qualified on pole, Button was supreme around the flowing and legendary Suzuka and managed to hold off the two legends in an excellent display of controlled and consistent driving. It showed him to be one of the true greats of the sport, despite only winning the one championship.
With the top three finishing within two seconds of each other, it was a modern classic, with Vettel winning the world title for the second year in a row. Button ended up finishing second in the championship.
2. Hungarian Grand Prix 2006
If it hadn’t been for arguably the greatest Grand Prix of all time, this would have been number one for sure, and for Button this first victory was well earned.
After being in the sport for six seasons, Button’s best result was second in four Grand Prix during the 2004 season, and his Hungary win was a drive of grit, determination and a sign that his time had finally come.
After starting 14th on the grid, the wet conditions allowed Button to fight through the pack and he showed his class by passing then world champion Michael Schumacher, as the German struggled to get a grip on the slippery surface.
With everyone around him crashing or struggling to stay on the slick track, Button maintained his composure to calmly and brilliantly win the race.
It gave one of the most iconic scenes in Formula One as, stepping out of his car, the wide-eyed Button celebrated with his Honda team what was the first Honda chassis win since 1967 and first Honda-powered since 1999.
This Grand Prix showed Button’s skills off to perfection. But for sheer perseverance, there can only be one outright winner.
1. Canadian Grand Prix 2011
One of the all-time great races, and one of the best performances behind the wheel of a Formula One car (in our humble opinion).
Starting from seventh on the grid, the first part of the race couldn’t have gone worse for Button. Colliding with Hamilton down the pit straight, he pitted for intermediates at the wrong time and then drove too quickly under the safety car to earn a drive-through penalty. Whirlwind stuff.
With a severe rainstorm halting the Grand Prix in its tracks, Button was well down the field, despite having the car to be near the front. Then, following the restart, Button soon pitted for intermediates again off the full wets, and going into Turn 3 out of the pits caught Alonso’s back wheel and spun the Spaniard into retirement. Suffering a puncture, Button went to the back of the race to change his tyres again.
Following this final safety car restart, leader Vettel, who had been untroubled all afternoon, had to build a lead again, while Button had to try to save something from what must have felt like a nightmare.
But with superb timing, he chose to change on to the slick tyres at just the right time, and went on a full charge for the leaders. Fighting through the pack, he passed Mark Webber and a steaming Schumacher with just a handful of laps to go in a race that felt like it had gone on forever.
With Vettel struggling to keep his tyres together and Button flying, the German was put under severe pressure as the gap between JB closed in to under a second by the start of the last lap. With the German looking like he would hold on, he suffered a lapse of concentration, caught a wet patch off the racing line, and spun, allowing Button and his McLaren to fly past and lead the race for only six corners.
The victory summed up the race itself: mad, all over the place, but utterly enthralling and truly brilliant. Button won to mass celebration in the McLaren garage and no wonder. It was a truly superb victory. From being last in the race twice to winning the Grand Prix in the longest race in Formula One history. Not bad JB, not bad at all.
We hope he does return to the grid in 2018 for one last hurrah, but he’s had a pretty good run of it during his 17 seasons in the sport. Well done, Jenson! And enjoy your break – you’ve earned it!
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