Jenson Button came into Formula One and impressed over his first season in 2000. He didn’t match his teammate but he showed promise and at times like in Spa he shone. For the next season he made the move to a Renault team that was still trying to find its feet in the sport. Over the course of the season he had some good drivers but finished well down on his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella. He stayed with Renault for another season and did better beating Jarno Trulli on points before making the move to BAR at the end of the season being replaced by Fernando Alonso who took the Renault to 55 points in 2003. In 2004 Button got 3rd in the championship with some brilliant drives in a BAR which matched his driving style. He then made the decision to move to Williams. A decision he then decided was not a good move and cancelled his contract before it started losing money to pay his way out.
He therefore continued with BAR and then into its transition into Honda while it tried to match its great 2004 season. He picked up his first win at Hungary in 2006 from 14th on the grid but it was a false dawn and in 2007 and 2008 the car was poor. The problem with these two years is that while they were obviously difficult for Button and the team he seemed to lose interest and ran below the pace of the car and was often beaten by his teammate. This is a driver who has experienced a lot of middle running in his career.
Now we come to 2009, he has no ride for the year as Honda have pulled out. A couple of weeks before the first Grand Prix Ross Brawn takes over the team and the team suddenly go testing and find themselves top of the time sheets constantly. The question that need to be asked is what part did Button have to play in the complete reversal of the team from its 2008 position to 2009. As far as I can tell it is down to loyalty. He was disinterested last year and rarely made a substantial effort due to the small rewards it gave that is not overly good for morale within a team.
This year though he has been completely dominant within the car, his driving style has been perfect for it and it has rewarded him. I have trouble giving him the respect he is likely due though because of his poor effort for the last two seasons and the fact he has little to do with the creation of the dominant car of the year. In the Schumacher winning era he played a massive part in ensuring the car was perfect and almost unbeatable. This year Button has been given a car that is lightning fast and responds to his driving style… How am I meant to feel good for him when he is effectively being gifted with performance. If anything the praise belongs solely to Ross Brawn who bought the team and made it what it has become this season.
I am not a glory hunter, I am not going to support Button until he earns my support. If it had been him who had the balls to change tyres at Silverstone last year and not Barrichello to finish 2nd in that race in the second slowest car on the grid then I would likely give him his due but it was not. Button has been a disappointment for the last two seasons so I don’t understand supporting him if he is being gifted with the best car. I am hoping later in the year he will have a real fight on his hands so that I can consider him worthy of his position. But right now all I see is someone who is a couple of tenth quicker than his aging teammate.
That all said, he did gain some respect from me for winning at Monaco today as it is a track he has previously struggled at, then again though surely that just shows how good a job Ross Brawn has done with the car in that it gives Button the confidence he needs to excel at any track.
Fingers are firmly crossed for a Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams fightback so that I can enjoy it whoever wins.