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The 5 Best Drives of Jenson Button

Jenson Button was regarded as one of the best drivers in Formula 1 throughout the 2000s and the early 2010s.

Winning his first race took a lot longer than most expected and was followed by two very lean years in 2007 and 2008, but between 2009 and 2012 Button finally got a top running car and showed everyone just how good he was by winning the championship in 2009 and defeating Lewis Hamilton in 2011.

2009 Bahrain GP

Button had a rocket start to the 2009 season, but Red Bull took a dominant win in the third race of the season at the Chinese GP. Many expected Red Bull to challenge, or perhaps even beat Brawn next time round in Bahrain too. The Toyotas locked out the front row in qualifying, and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel beat Button too, and with a heavier car also.

The Toyotas got away well and retained first and second position, but Vettel and Button were passed by the fast-starting Lewis Hamilton. Button crucially passed Hamilton with a swift move at the end of lap 1. This move allowed him to drop Hamilton and Vettel, who was held back by Hamilton.

Button was easily able to keep pace with the Toyotas and took the lead after the first stops. After taking the lead Button never looked back and won the race by a comfortable margin. His win may have looked easy, but it was anything but. His overtake on Hamilton was what allowed him to win the race, as had he remained stuck behind the Brit he would have dropped back a long way from the Toyotas just like Vettel did.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Button made his F1 debut in?
    • 2000
    • 2002

Answer Key

  1. 2000

2006 Brazilian GP

The 2006 Brazilian GP is remembered by most for the great recovery drive of Michael Schumacher, who stormed through the field after suffering a puncture to take a strong 4th place in his last race for Ferrari.

But Schumacher was not the only man who had a very strong recovery drive in the 2006 Brazilian GP. Honda men Jenson Button had a troublesome qualifying session and only managed 14 places for the race.

The bad qualifying did not dishearten Button, and he put in a storming drive on Sunday. The Brit carved his way through the field, and after the first round of pit stops were done, he was already up to 4th, closely following McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen. Button passed Raikkonen not much later with a spectacular late-breaking overtaking move and started to close on second-placed man Alonso.

He caught up with Alonso too, but ultimately was unable to pass the Renault man. He finished 3rd in what for me was one of the best drives of his career.

2010 Australian GP

Button left Brawn at the end of the 2009 season and joined McLaren for 2010. He joined the team of Lewis Hamilton, and most expected Hamilton to easily dominate Button.

It did not turn out that way. Hamilton easily had the measure of Button in the qualifying sessions and was slightly quicker in the races too, but when Button was happy with the car, the two drivers were quite evenly matched.

Button had a disappointing debut race for his new team in the opening race of 2010. He was off the pace and finished a long way behind his new teammate.

In Australia, things turned around, and in the qualifying session it was Button who handily beat Hamilton.

The race began in wet conditions, and Button was struggling. He was wearing down his intermediate tyres quickly, and Hamilton came from behind to pass his teammate.

Button then decided to switch tyres and was the first man to put on the dry tyres. The move paid off, and he jumped from 7th to 2nd in an instance. Button was unable to trouble Sebastian Vettel, who was leading but was easily able to pull away from the rest.

When Vettel dropped out, Button inherited the lead and went on to win the race from Robert Kubica.

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What made Button’s win all the more impressive was the fact that he completed nearly the whole race distance on a single set of soft tyres, while most of his rivals, his teammate included had to make an extra stop in comparison. Button was renowned throughout his career for his soft touch of the pedal, which made him a tyre whisperer, and the 2010 Australian GP was the perfect demonstration of this skill.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Hamilton and Button were teammetes for three years.
    • False
    • True

Answer Key

  1. True

2012 Australian GP

The McLaren team began the 2012 season on fire. The pair of Hamilton and Button easily locked out the front row of the Australian grid and were quite a way ahead of their rivals.

The previously dominant Red Bull team seemed to be off form, and especially double world champion Sebastian Vettel looked off form.

Hamilton was favourite before the race, as despite his accident filled 2011 season, most people still believed that so long he stayed out of trouble, Hamilton would edge his teammate in a straight fight.

It did not turn out that way at all. Button jumped his teammate at the start and pulled away from him at the opening stint. The Red Bulls looked more competitive in the race, and Vettel closed up to Hamilton.

After the first stops, Button dropped Hamilton by around 10 seconds and was easily able to maintain the gap between his teammate Hamilton and Vettel who was following Hamilton closely.

A late-race SC screwed up Hamilton and allowed Vettel to jump the McLaren man. When the race was restarted, the front four were: Button, Vettel, Hamilton and Webber.

Button easily pulled a 3-second gap on Vettel in a few laps, and from this point on, he was in no danger from the German and cruised to a dominant win.

2006 Hungarian GP

The 2006 season was dominated by Ferrari and Renault. McLaren and Honda were the best of the rest, but generally, they were quite a way off the top two and completely unable to challenge them on a race to race basis.

The Hungarian GP looked to continue this pattern, but both Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso earned themselves penalties in the qualifying session, which saw them start in the middle of the pack.

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen profited from their penalties to take the pole position from the other Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. The two Honda’s were third and fourth, but an engine change meant that Button was only able to start the race from 14th.

The race was soaking wet, and surprisingly the Bridgestone tyred teams struggled very badly, even Ferrari who had a rocket of a car. Someone who did not struggle was Alonso, who charged through the field to take the lead. Button was also climbing through the field nicely, though his progress was not as spectacular as Alonso’s.

An accident between Kimi Raikkonen and Liuzzi brought out an SC, which cancelled Alonso’s lead. Button was right on the tail of Alonso after the restart. The two easily left the rest behind. Alonso entered the pits first for dry tyres, unfortunately for him, his crew failed to put on all the tyres properly which lead to him crashing out of the race.

This left Button in a commanding position and he cruised home to take a comfortable win, the first win of his career.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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