Born in a small English village in 1980, Jenson Button
experienced his first taste of motorsport at the age of eight when
his father, a rally driver, gave his son a kart. Jenson's younger
years were spent competing in kart championships which he dominated
from the start. Winning all thirty-four races of the 1991 British
Cadet Kart Championship was one of his highlights.
When he turned 18, Button moved up into single seater cars,
where he continued his blinding pace in the British Formula Ford
Championship, winning it with relative ease. His talent did not go
unnoticed and in 1998 he was awarded the McLaren Autosport BRDC
Young Driver Award which gave him his first taste of a Formula 1
car a year later as the prize. Previous winners of this award
include David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Gary Paffett, Anthony
Davidson and Paul di Resta.
In 1999, Jenson was promoted to the British Formula 3
Championship, racing for Promatecme UK. He came third in the
standings, taking three wins and three poles. It was enough though
- in 2000, Button entered Formula 1.
Williams decided to give Button a chance, replacing Alex
Zanardi, and naming Button Formula One's youngest ever F1 driver.
The year wasn't entirely smooth though, as you would expect from a
rookie, with numerous crashes that ended races (not to mention one
during practice for the first race of the year). An unreliable FW22
didn't help either. However, after seventeen races, Jenson notched
up 12 points which put him 8th in the standings. A
stellar performance from the twenty year-old.
The next two years were spent on loan at Benetton with Williams
deciding to keep Jenson's contract rights. It was a torrid year for
Button though - a very uncompetitive car and frequent
out-qualification from his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella left him
17th in the championship with just two points to his
name. 2002 was better, with 14 points and the achievement of
finishing ahead of his more experienced teammate, Jarno Trulli, in
It was announced in July of 2002 that Button would drive for
British American Racing on a two year contract beginning in 2003.
The first year resulted in two fourth place finishes for Jenson and
he came 9th overall in the championship, ahead of
teammate Jacques Villeneuve.
2004 saw a much better for Button and BAR with the Briton taking
his first career podium at the Malaysian Grand Prix. He would later
go on to win a further nine more and secure third in the driver'
championship. BAR finished second in the constructors', failing to
match the dominance of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.
The next year Jenson was optimistic after such a successful
2004. However, the car was not up to scratch and it took ten races
before either Jenson or his teammate, Takuma Sato, scored. A
surprise pole position at Canada led to Button crashing in the race
and the fiasco at the US GP with the Michelin tyres also didn't
help BAR's championship hopes. At the end of the year, Honda bought
the remaining stake from BAR and drafted in Rubens Barrichello from
2006 didn't start off much better for Jenson and Honda with
endless engine problems and unfortunate accidents during numerous
races. However, the Hungarian Grand Prix was the turning point with
Jenson gaining from wet conditions to win his first race in Formula
1, after starting 14th on the grid. It was the first
time that an English driver had won in Formula 1 in over seven
years. With renewed confidence, Button scored more points than
anyone else in the remaining six races, taking 35 points. He ended
the year with 6th place in the championship
Jenson's rollercoaster career continued with two very poor
seasons at Honda. An aerodynamically poor car meant Button only
scored nine points during 2007 and 2008. At the end of which, Honda
pulled out of the sport, citing economic concerns due to the
With just weeks before the 2009 season, Ross Brawn, the former
team principle of Honda Racing announced that he had secured a late
buy-out of the team. Button took a reported 50% pay cut as part of
the deal. The year was a fantastic success, with the team
benefitting from the major aerodynamic rule changes, designing a
double diffuser which was later banned from the sport. Six wins,
four poles and 95 points secured the championship for Jenson. He
was awarded the MBE by the Queen and had a street named after him
In 2010, Button joined McLaren, signing a three year deal worth
a reported £6m a year. A solid season for Jenson left him
5th in the championship, but not quite out-performing
his highly rated teammate, Lewis Hamilton. The move from Brawn GP
seemed to be the right decision as Jenson won two races and stood
on seven podiums. Brawn GP was taken over by Mercedes but the
performance didn't match McLaren's.
2011 turned out to be Jenson's second most successful season
ever with three race wins and twelve podiums to his name. For most
of the season, he consistently bettered Hamilton who was struggling
with his private life. A contract extension was provided by McLaren
in the latter stages of the season with the new deal lasting three
further years. Although he couldn't match the dominance of
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, Button's performance improvement
over the year was widely praised.
For this year, Button remains at McLaren but takes the number
three from Hamilton. He'll know that Lewis will come back from a
poor 2011 season much stronger but the confidence gained from 2011
will provide a huge boost.
Previously known as the co-founder of F1Lite (a Twitter-only
service), Alex Norton joined PortalF1 as the English language
editor in January 2012.
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