Jenson Alexander Lyons Button was born in the Somerset village of Frome on 19th January 1980 to parents John Button and Simone Lyons and he was their fourth child. His dad was a former rally cross driver in the 1970’s and was known for his so-called Colorado Beetle Volkswagen up until 1978.
Jenson began karting at the age of eight and by the time he was nine he’d won the British Super Prix and two seasons later he won all 34 races on his way to the British Cadet Kart Championship in 1991. The Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup win followed in 1997 and after becoming Formula Ford champion and a third place overall finish in Formula 3 in 1999, Jenson was ready to make the step up to Formula 1 in 2000.
2000 – Williams FW22
Jenson’s first season in Grand Prix racing was an impressive one. Partnering Ralf Schumacher in the Williams, Button finished in the top 6 on six occasions including a fifth place finish at Silverstone and a seasons best fourth place at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, the race where future teammate Rubens Barrichello secured his first career win. Button finished his first season with 12 points and eighth place in the Championship.
2001 – Benneton B201
The move to Benneton resulted in a less successful campaign compared to his first one. He only scored two points and finished 17th in the Championship but the main positive he drew from it was the good reliability of the B201 with the Briton only failing to finish on 5 occasions. The only points finish of the season came in a double points finish for him and teammate Giancarlo Fisichella at the German Grand Prix with Fisichella in fourth place and Button in fifth place.
2002 – Renault R202
Button was kept on by the now rebranded Renault team and was joined by Jarno Trulli after the Italian had joined the Enstone team from Jordan. It was a campaign that was much improved from the previous one. A career best of seven points finishes including back to back fourth place finishes at the Malaysian and Brazilian Grand Prix followed by a fifth place finish at the San Marino Grand Prix. The Brit would move to British American Racing for the 2003 season.
2003 – BAR 005
The first of what would be three seasons with BAR was more of the same in comparison with the previous one with Renault. Partnered by Jaques Villeneuve, Button equalled the amount of points finishes which included two fourth place finishes at the Austrian and Japanese Grand Prix. The downside of the season was his crash at Monaco during qualifying after coming out of the tunnel heading towards the Nouvelle Chicane. He missed the race after spending the night at a local hospital. He would return for the next race in Austria.
2004 – BAR 006
The second season with the team was Button’s best season of his career to date. Takuma Sato had replaced Jaques Villeneuve for the final race of the previous season and had subsequently been kept on to be Button’s team mate for the season. The season started with a sixth place finish for Button in the season opening race in Australia and things just picked up from there. Six of the ten podiums came in the first eight races and the Button’s first career pole position came at the San Marino Grand Prix which he converted into a second place behind Michael Schumacher. The other second place came in Monaco two races later. Button finished in the top eight on 15 occasions with the three retirements coming at the US, Belgian and Brazilian Grand Prix.
2005 – BAR 007
While 2004 was Button’s best personal season of his career, 2005 was definitely the most controversial and the team had a difficult first half of the season. After an 11th place finish in the season opening race in Australia, the next two race weekends would bring consecutive retirements for Button before both BAR cars were disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix for being underweight. A two race ban followed for Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix although the FIA president at the time, Max Mosley wanted to ban the team for the remainder of the season. Having said that, Button`s fortunes drastically improved in the second half of the season with the Brit scoring nine consecutive points finishes after the French Grand Prix in July and that impressive points run included podiums at the British Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix. Japanese manufacturer Honda took ownership of the team at the end of the 2005 season and Button was kept on by the team and his teammate for the following season would be Rubens Barrichello.
2006 – RA106
2006 started on a much, much brighter note for Button compared to 2005 with a points finish in Bahrain and a podium in Australia. The first half of the season included all four of Button`s retirements of the season including a non-finish at the British Grand Prix which came as a result of an oil leak. Fast forward to the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July and the Hungaroring was the venue for Button`s maiden career race victory in changeable conditions ahead of Pedro de la Rosa in the McLaren. Highlights of which can be found below. Button and Barrichello were retained by the team for the following season.
2007 – RA107
The RA107 had a difficult birth. Button failed to finish in the points in any of the first seven races before scoring an eighth place finish at the French Grand Prix, the last time to date that F1 visited the country. After France, it was mixed fortunes for Button with only having an eighth place finish in Monza, a top ten finish at Silverstone and a season high fifth place in China. It was also the first time since the 2004 season that the British racer failed to record a single podium finish during the course of the season.
2008 – RA108
Button`s ninth season in Formula 1 was arguably his toughest to date in the RA108. It was another season without a win or any podiums and the only points finish was a sixth place result at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. The RA108 also took Button to two top 10 finishes but it was definitely a very troubling time. Honda pulled out of F1 at the end of the campaign leaving Button and Barrichello without a team for the following season.
2009 – BGP 001
After Honda pulled out in October 2008, former Ferrari and Benneton Technical Director and Team Principle Ross Brawn – the man who helped Michael Schumacher to all seven of his World Championships between 1995 and 2006 – bought the team. Button and Barrichello were kept on and it could hardly have been a better fairytale story. In Brawn GP`s only season, the team not only won the Constructors Championship at the first time of asking but Button finally won the Championship. With six wins in the first seven races, the only blip for Button was a third place finish in China where he would finish behind the two Bed Bull`s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
The first non-podium finish for Button was at the British Grand Prix where he finished sixth and after the race at Silverstone the Brit would only score two more podium finishes which came at Monza and the season ending Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Button had wrapped up the championship at the previous race in Brazil with a fifth place finish after torrential rain in qualifying left Button starting from fourteenth on the grid. Button also scored points in every race apart from the Belgian Grand Prix after colliding with Romain Grosjean at Les Combes. After the season ending – and inaugural – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Brawn were bought out by Mercedes and Ross Brawn was kept on. For Button, it was time to move on to a new chapter of his racing career as he moved to McLaren.
2010 – McLaren MP4-25
The start of Button’s spell with the Woking outfit was a promising one. Partnering Lewis Hamilton in the MP4-25, Button got himself two race wins from his first campaign. Those two wins came in the first five races at the Australian Grand Prix, making it back to back victories in Melbourne, and the Chinese Grand Prix where he finished ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. The first of the two non-finishes during the season came at Monaco before three consecutive podiums in Turkey, Canada and at the European Grand Prix in Valencia followed by a fourth place at the British Grand Prix. Button’s second retirement came at the Belgian Grand Prix for the second year in a row and a twelfth place finish in Korea before the last of seven podiums came in Abu Dhabi where Sebastian Vettel won his first World Drivers Crown. Amazingly, Button was in a five driver race for the championship right up until his finish outside of the points in Korea.
2011 – McLaren MP4-26
Button’s second season at McLaren was one that once again got him tantalisingly close to a second Drivers title. Three wins in the season was his best return since 2009 and those wins came in Hungary for a second time, a first win in Japan towards the end of the season and the first win came what most fans, pundits and drivers are calling ‘Race of the 21st century’, the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. At a shade over four hours long which included a two hour rain delay, it is the longest Grand Prix in history. Other than the three wins, Button scored 12 podiums over the course of the season and the only retirements came courtesy of a loose wheel nut after a pit stop at Silverstone and a hydraulics problem at the German Grand Prix a week or so later. It was Button’s best points return of his career, although he still finished over one hundred points behind Sebastian Vettel in the race for the Championship.
2012 – McLaren MP4-27
In the 2012 season, Button equalled his win return from the previous season, scoring three wins in the MP4-27. Button made it three wins in Melbourne, Australia in the space of four seasons to open the season in fine style. The other two wins came in Belgium for the first time and at the season-ending race in Brazil. At the time of writing, that race is not only Button’s last career win, but McLaren’s last win too. The reliability was evident with the 2012 challenger only failing to finish at Monza after a fuel pressure problem and a first lap tangle with Nico Rosberg in Korea put paid to any progress there. At the end of the 2012 season, Lewis Hamilton moved to Mercedes and Button was partnered by Sergio Perez who had spent the previous season at Sauber.
2013 – MP4-28
It’s safe to say that Button’s fourth season with McLaren was a consistent, if not entirely productive. The Frome born racer went without a Grand Prix win or indeed a podium for the first time since the start of his World Championship winning season of 2009. Positives that Button could take from the difficult campaign were that it was his best season in terms of reliability, with the MP4-28 finishing every race of the season and finished in the points on fourteen occasions with the best result coming at the season ending race in Brazil, the same venue where Button secured his last Grand Prix career win.
2014 – MP4-29
Sergio Perez left McLaren after a difficult campaign alongside Button and the Woking outfit signed Kevin Magnussen as Button’s teammate. The first season with the new 1.6L hybrid engines season started off promisingly. In the season opening race in Australia, Magnussen and Button finished third and fourth place respectively but that became a double podium finish for the team after Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified in his Red Bull after exceeding the fuel flow rate. As a result, this gave Button his 50th career podium finish. The rest of the campaign held a similar tone to the previous one, with Button finishing in the points on 13 occasions although the podium in Australia was the best result of the season. Other notable results included a fourth place at Silverstone and four finishes inside the top five in four of the last five races.
2015 – MP4-30
The 2015 started off on a frustrating note. Button’s new teammate for 2015, Fernando Alonso, suffered a crash in pre-season testing and after being hospitalised he would miss the opening race in Australia with Kevin Magnussen taking his place. However, Magnussen failed to make the grid after suffering an electrical problem on the lap to the grid. Fernando Alonso would regain his seat at the following race in Malaysia. For Button, it was a similar story. He got to the end of the races in Australia and China albeit finishing outside the top 10 on both occasions. He retired in Malaysia and after electrical issues before the race in Bahrain, he didn’t even start. Button only finished in the points on 4 occasions during the campaign including a season high sixth place finish at the USA Grand Prix, the race in which former teammate Lewis Hamilton would win his third World Championship.
2016 – MP4-31
In a season that turned out to be Button’s final season with McLaren, it was a mixed set of results in the opening few races. After retiring from the Bahrain Grand Prix with an engine failure, consecutive points finishes at the Russian and Spanish Grand Prix followed and Button made sure of a double points finish for the Woking outfit in the rain at Monaco after finishing ninth with Fernando Alonso in a seasons equalling high of fifth place for the Spaniard. Button’s steady progress was halted slightly after retirement in Canada and then Button’s best result of the season came in Austria. Having qualified fifth on the grid, Button drove a steady race and came home in sixth position. The second half of the season came with a little bit of a downturn in form for Button. Three retirements in five races between Hungary and Singapore was unfortunate but a points finish in German was at least a reason to smile. Button announced his plan to take a sabbatical in 2017 at the Italian Grand Prix and in the seven remaining ‘flyaway’ races including Singapore, Button finished in five of them, scoring points in Malaysia and the USA races. In Button’s final race for McLaren, he retired on lap 12 after a failure on the right front suspension. An unfortunate end to the career of one of Britains most talented racing drivers.
Jenson Button can look back on his 16 season career in F1 with immense pride but there will no doubt be a tinge of sadness in the way it ended. Thankyou for the memories, Jenson!