Jenson Button

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Mall:Use British English Mall:Use dmy dates Mall:Infobox F1 driver Jenson Alexander Lyons Button, MBE (born 19 January 1980) is a British Formula One driver from England currently signed to McLaren. He was the 2009 Formula One World Champion, driving for Brawn GP.

Button began karting at the age of eight and achieved early success, before progressing to car racing in the British Formula Ford Championship and the British Formula Three Championship. He first drove in Formula One with Williams F1 for the 2000 season. The following year he switched to Benetton, which in Mall:F1 became Renault, and then for the 2003 season he moved to BAR. They were subsequently renamed Honda for the 2006 season, during which Button won his first Grand Prix in Hungary, after 113 races.[1]

Following the withdrawal of Honda from the sport in December 2008, he was left without a drive for the 2009 season, until Ross Brawn led a management buyout of the team in February 2009, and Button suddenly found himself in a highly competitive, Mercedes-engined car. He went on to win a record-equalling six of the first seven races of the 2009 season, securing the World Drivers' Championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix, having led on points all season; his success also helped Brawn GP to secure the World Constructors' Championship. For 2010, he moved to McLaren, partnering fellow British racer and former World Champion Lewis Hamilton. After finishing fifth for the team in 2010, Button finished the Mall:F1 season as runner-up. Out of Mall:F1stat races that Button has started he has won Mall:F1stat with a total of Mall:F1stat podium finishes. Button was named one of the "Men of the Year" in both 2009 and 2011 by Top Gear.

Early life and career[redigera]

Button was born on 19 January 1980 in Frome, Somerset and brought up in nearby Vobster.[2] He was named after his father's friend Erling Jensen, changing the "e" to an "o" to differentiate it from Jensen Motors.[3] He was educated at Vallis First School, Selwood Middle School and Frome Community College.[4] He is the fourth child of South African-born Simone Lyons and former Rallycross driver John Button, who was well known in the UK during the 1970s for his so-called Colorado Beetle Volkswagen. After his parents divorced when he was seven, he and his three elder sisters were brought up by their mother in Frome.[3] He failed his first driving test for getting too close to a parked vehicle.[4]

Button began karting at the age of eight, after his father bought him his first kart, and made an extraordinarily successful start. In 1989, aged nine, he came first in the British Super Prix.[5] He won all 34 races of the 1991 British Cadet Kart Championship, along with the title.[6] Further successes followed, including three triumphs in the British Open Kart Championship. In 1997, he won the Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup, and also became the youngest driver ever to win the European Super A Championship.[5]

Aged 18, Button moved into car racing, winning the British Formula Ford Championship with Haywood Racing; he also triumphed in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.[7] At the end of 1998, he won the annual McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. His prize included a test in a McLaren Formula One car, which he received at the end of the following year.[8] Button entered the British Formula Three Championship in 1999, with the Promatecme team. He won three times —at Thruxton, Pembrey and Silverstone—and finished the season as the top rookie driver, and third overall.[7] He finished fifth and second respectively in the Marlboro Masters and Macau Grand Prix, losing out by 0.035 seconds to winner Darren Manning in the latter.[7]

Formula One career[redigera]

Williams (2000)[redigera]

At the end of 1999, Button had his McLaren test prize at Silverstone, and also tested for the Prost team. A vacant race seat became available at the Williams team, following the departure of Alex Zanardi, and team boss Frank Williams arranged a 'shoot-out' test between Button and Formula 3000 racer Bruno Junqueira, with Button securing the drive.[6] This made him Britain's youngest ever Formula One driver.[9] Button was heavily hyped before his first race: former driver Gerhard Berger described him as a "phenomenon"; the head of his karting team, Paul Lemmens, compared him to Ayrton Senna; and Williams' technical director Patrick Head said he was "remarkably mature and definitely a star of the future".[10] However some had misgivings about his lack of experience and ability to cope with the pressures of Formula One.[10]

Making his début in Australia, Button crashed during practice and qualified second-last on the grid. However, he performed strongly in the race and was set to score a point before his engine failed 11 laps from the finish.[11][12] A sixth-place finish at the next race in Brazil made him, at the time, the youngest driver ever to score a point.[13] In his first six races, he outqualified his teammate Ralf Schumacher twice, and was consistently close in pace; journalist David Tremayne described Button's start as "the stuff of any team owner's wildest dreams".[13] However, Williams had intended to use Button only until they could exercise their option to buy the highly rated Juan Pablo Montoya out of his contract at Ganassi Racing.[14] A dip in Button's form, combined with Montoya's victory in that year's Indianapolis 500, led to Montoya being announced as his replacement midway through the season. Williams chose not to sell Button's contract, keeping the right to recall him in 2003. He went to Benetton on a two-year loan.[15]

Button's best qualification of the season was third place in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps; and his best result was fourth in the German Grand Prix.[16] Despite the worries about his inexperience, he made few mistakes during the season, the most notable coming in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Under safety car conditions Button swerved to avoid the pack which had bunched up, and subsequently crashed into the barrier; he blamed Michael Schumacher who had been leading at the time (and so controlling the pace), and Schumacher apologised for it after the race.[17] Button finished his impressive debut season in eighth place with 12 points (Ralf Schumacher finished fifth with 24).[18][19][20]

Benetton (2001)[redigera]

Button at the 2001 French Grand Prix driving for Benetton.

For Mall:F1, Button partnered experienced driver Giancarlo Fisichella at Benetton, which had recently been purchased by Renault. He endured a dismal season: the Benetton car was very uncompetitive and he was consistently outperformed by his teammate.[21] He finished 17th in the Drivers' Championship with only 2 points, with his best result being fifth place at the Mall:F1 GP.[22] His poor form led to speculation he would be replaced before the end of the year;[21] team principal Flavio Briatore said, "Either he shows he's super-good or he leaves the top echelon of drivers",[23] and reportedly offered him the chance to walk.[24] Button believed that his inexperience showed as he struggled to help his team set-up a competitive car.[24] His lack of success combined with an extravagant lifestyle led some to dub him a "playboy".[25][26]

Renault (2002)[redigera]

In Mall:F1, Benetton was rebranded as Renault F1, and Jarno Trulli joined the team to partner Button. Over the winter break, Button spent a lot of time working with his engineering team and felt there was an improved understanding between them; he described himself as "very confident" for the season.[23] He started well: in the second race of the season in Malaysia, he was on track for his first podium before a suspension problem in the final laps dropped him to fourth place.[27] Button's performances were greatly improved from the previous season's; although often outqualified by Trulli, he showed the faster race pace to outscore his more experienced teammate.[28] Despite Button's performances, and his desire to stay with Renault,[29] it was announced at the French Grand Prix that he would make way in 2003 for test driver Fernando Alonso.[28] Briatore faced criticism for his decision, but stated "time will tell if I am wrong";[30] he would also accuse Button of being a "lazy playboy".[31] In July, Button signed a two-year contract with a two-year option for British American Racing, partnering 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.[32] An important factor in his decision was the chance to work with David Richards, the BAR team principal.[32] He finished the season seventh with 14 points, one place and 5 points ahead of Trulli.[33]