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neat as button

Jenson Button

Jenson Alexander Lyons Button, often called Jense, (born 19 January, 1980) is a British Formula One racing driver from England. He currently competes for the Honda Racing F1 team. He won his first Grand Prix in Hungary, on August 6 2006 after 113 races.

Early life

Button was born in Frome, Somerset, and went to Selwood Middle School. He is the son of Simone Lyons and Rallycross ace John Button from London (during the 1970s well-known in the UK for his so-called Colorado beetle Volkswagen and his VW-Audi dealership with Autoconti Tuning garage at Trowbridge, Wiltshire), whose best overall results was to become the runner-up in both the Embassy/RAC-MSA British Rallycross and TEAC/Lydden Rallycross championships of the year 1976. Jenson Button’s parents are divorced, and he has three older sisters, Tanya, Samantha and Natasha.

Racing career

Karting

Button began karting at age eight after his father bought him his first kart, and he made an extraordinarily successful start. He won all 34 races of the 1991 British Cadet Kart Championship along with the title.

Further successes followed, including three triumphs in the British Open Kart Championship. In 1997 he became the youngest driver ever to win the European Super A Championship and won the Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup as well, precipitating a move into car racing.

Formula Ford

Aged 18, he contested the British Formula Ford Championship with Haywood Racing and won the title with nine race wins. He also triumphed in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, ahead of future Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.

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.

Formula Three

Button entered Formula Three in 1999 with the Promatecme team. He won three times - at Thruxton, Pembrey and Silverstone - and finished the season as top rookie driver.

He was third overall in the championship, behind Marc Hynes and Luciano Burti, and finished fifth and second respectively in the Marlboro Masters and Macau Grand Prix (0.035s behind winner Darren Manning in the latter).

Formula One

2000: Williams

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 Alessandro Zanardi, and team boss Frank Williams arranged a 'shoot-out' between Button and Formula 3000 racer Bruno Junqueira. Button won the seat.

He finished eighth in the 2000 Drivers' Championship, and proved his speed most notably with an impressive performance at the challenging Spa Francorchamps circuit, where he qualified 3rd and finished 4th. However, he made a number of rookie mistakes during the season, including crashing while under safety car conditions at Monza. Overall he showed great potential, but was outscored by his more experienced teammate, Ralf Schumacher.

2001: Benetton

In 2001, although still under contract with Williams, Button drove for Benetton which had just been purchased by Renault. He had a dismal season; the car, which was constantly under development that year, was never fast, nor was Button. He did, however, place fifth at the German Grand Prix, but finished a disappointing seventeenth in the drivers championship.

2002: Renault

In 2002 Renault renamed Benetton as Renault F1. Though his teammate Jarno Trulli routinely outpaced him in qualifying, Button occasionally had the superior race pace. He narrowly missed third place (and his first podium) at the Malaysian Grand Prix, being passed by Michael Schumacher in the last lap due to a suspension failure in his Renault, and ultimately finished the race in fourth. The Brazilian Grand Prix gave him another fourth place, and he finished seventh in that year's drivers championship.

For the 2003 season Renault team principal Flavio Briatore replaced Button with Fernando Alonso, previously test driver for the team. Despite a "huge outcry" Briatore stated "Time will tell if I am wrong." In 2005 Alonso won the Drivers' Championship with Renault, while Button had yet to win a race and was involved in his second contract dispute in two years. The Times quoted Briatore as saying "Jenson is a fine driver but there were too many contracts, too many things in the background."

2003-2005: BAR

2003
After his replacement at Renault, in early 2003 Button joined the BAR team, alongside former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. Contrary to press speculation, the two drivers had a good relationship, despite the former World Champion inadvertently spoiling a potential points finish during their first race together as teammates. However, as the season progressed, Button gained the upper hand in qualifying and also enjoyed better luck in races. Button's best result of the season was fourth place in Austria. However, he crashed heavily during Saturday practice in Monaco, causing him to miss both the race and the following testing session at Monza. By the end of the season, though, things were looking up, and at the 2003 United States Grand Prix Button led a lap for the first time. He finished ninth in the Drivers' Championship that year with 17 points.
2004

In 2004, Button and BAR-Honda made significant progress and BAR finished the season second in the Constructors' Championship. Button scored his first ever podium finish with a third place in the Malaysian Grand Prix, and added more throughout the season.

Button and BAR's first pole position came in April at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix, in which he finished second. He ended the season third overall, behind the two dominant Ferrari drivers, with 85 points.

2005

Despite his success with BAR, on 5 August 2004 Button revealed he had signed for Williams for the next two years, sparking a controversial contract dispute. An apparent loophole in his BAR contract permitted him to leave if Honda's commitment to the team was in any doubt.

BAR boss David Richards fought to keep his driver, though Frank Williams maintained that the switch was entirely legal. The FIA Contract Recognition Board (CRB) held a hearing on October 16 in Milan, Italy, to determine Button's 2005 status, concluding that he was contracted to BAR-Honda for the 2005 season.

A poor start to the 2005 Formula One season included disqualification at the San Marino Grand Prix. Scrutineers found that the fuel system of the car 'hid' fuel, allowing the car to finish above minimum weight despite potentially being able to run lighter during the race. The adjudged contravention of the rules resulted in a two-race ban for the team, allowing him to make his television commentary debut, for ITV Sport in Monaco.

Button took the second pole position of his career at Montreal. However he started the race poorly, and crashed on lap 46 while in third place. Despite having to wait until the halfway point of the season to score his first World Championship point, things improved considerably towards the end of the year. After a fourth place finish at the 2005 French Grand Prix, Button placed himself second on the grid for his home grand prix at Silverstone. Unfortunately, another slow start saw him lose position, and poor race pace dropped him through the field to finish fifth.

Button has always gone well at the Hockenheim circuit, and 2005 was no exception. He qualified his BAR-Honda in second place for the 2005 German Grand Prix, and then went on to finish third, his first podium finish of the season.

In 2005 Button again found himself the subject of contractual controversy. Despite having signed a contract to drive for the Williams team for 2006 he judged the likely prospects for that team to have declined, as their engine suppliers BMW had purchased the Sauber team and were to stop supplying engines to Williams. Frank Williams was adamant that the contract must be honoured despite Button claiming that circumstances had changed and he had a right to remain at BAR.

On 21 September 2005, BAR confirmed that Button would once again drive for them in 2006 (having bought out his contract from Williams for a reported $30m), where he would partner ex-Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.

2006-present: Honda F1

2006
At the start of the 2006 Formula One season, BAR Honda were fully purchased by Honda and became a full works team, changing its name to the Honda Racing F1 Team.

The 2006 season had both highs and lows - Button had a dismal race at home but took his first ever Grand Prix win in Hungary.

At the first round he scored five points with 4th place and finished on the podium in Malaysia. But in Australia his engine blew while running third, having started from pole position. He purposefully stopped short of the finish line to avoid an engine penalty.

The early part of the season proved difficult. At Monaco he qualified 14th and finished 11th. At his home race at Silverstone he qualified 19th after he lost time being weighed and his team failed to get him on track quickly enough. He spun off on lap eight due to an engine failure. At the 2006 Canadian Grand Prix, Button managed to out-qualify his teammate for the first time since Imola. However, after battling with David Coulthard in 8th, Button got passed by him and lost his chance for a point. Another retirement occurred at the 2006 United States Grand Prix when Button was one of several drivers eliminated in a first lap collision.

At the French Grand Prix, Button retired once more due to an engine failure. Qualifying for the German Grand Prix, however, brought a ray of sunshine into the bleak performance of qualifying this season. After a slightly shaky Q1, where he, once again, got pulled into the weighbridge - Button managed to get onto the second row of the grid with P4. After running for a while during the race in a strong P3, Button eventually finished back in P4.

Button took the first win of his career in 2006 at a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix - the 113th Grand Prix start of his career. In doing so he overcame a 10-grid slot penalty for changing his engine (the second driver after Räikkönen to win a race despite this penalty), which meant he started 14th. The race was badly affected by heavy rain. Button passed a number of drivers in the early laps - including championship contender Michael Schumacher - and was up to fourth by lap 10. Following the retirement of leading drivers Kimi Räikkönen (accident) and Fernando Alonso (driveshaft failure) he went on to win the race by over 40 seconds from Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. Alonso was behind Button on the racetrack when he retired, although Button still had one pitstop to make. Button's win beats Nigel Mansell's 1989 win from 12th on the grid at the Hungaroring. Button was the first British driver to win since David Coulthard in March 2003 and the first English F1 driver to win since Johnny Herbert won the European Grand Prix in 1999. His victory came 13 years after Damon Hill won his first F1 race at the same circuit. At the British Academy Television Awards 2007 Button's first win at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix earned ITV1 a BAFTA under the category of 'Best Sport'.

The Turkish Grand Prix held many expectations due to the previous race, and Button ended a strong 4th. The next three races, in Italy, China, and Japan all gave Button strong points positions with 4ths and 5ths. Over the last six races of the season, Button scored more points (35) than any other driver.

2007

In 2007, Button again competed with the Honda Racing F1 team alongside Rubens Barrichello.

In late 2006, Button sustained two hairline fractures to his ribs, following a karting incident. This resulted in him not being able to take part in winter testing, prior to the 2007 season.

Former British world champion Damon Hill aired doubts over Button's hopes to be a championship contender at Honda over the coming season, saying, "if he is serious... he has to get himself in a car that is a championship contender. Alan Henry writing in The Guardian 2007 F1 season guide, predicted: "Button will win a couple more races but is not a title contender. He was proved to be wrong as the Honda car proved to be aerodynamically poor.

At the first race of the season in Australia Button only managed to qualify 14th after handling problems. The race was no better as he endured considerable understeer throughout, was given a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and finished 15th. The next two races in Malaysia and Bahrain were just as unsuccessful, Button finishing 12th behind team-mate Rubens Barrichello in Malaysia, and not even completing a lap in Bahrain after colliding with Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard at the first corner. At the French Grand Prix Button finished eighth, earning his and Honda's first point of 2007.

Following the British Grand Prix, it was announced that Button would remain with Honda for .

As Button's place as the pre-eminent British driver in F1 was taken by Lewis Hamilton, former champion Nigel Mansell criticised Button, saying: "Jenson should have won more races, he has under-performed and that is down to him. He had the opportunity and he didn’t take it - there won’t be any more." Honda team boss Nick Fry defended his driver saying: "I would refute everything Nigel has said, and particularly I think his comments about Jenson’s reputation for partying are about five years out of date. People forget that Jenson made his F1 debut at the age of 20 - but he’s now 27. I’ve worked with him now for five years, and his increasing maturing and the way he changed his lifestyle is extremely noticeable."

Button made no secret of his frustration regarding his current situation. He described his 2007 season as "a total disaster", adding "I'm not going to hang around finishing 14th". He also described his car as "a complete dog". Jenson did, however, record several impressive outings towards the end of the season, especially when rain was prominent.

2008

Jenson Button has stayed with Honda for and continues to be partnered by Rubens Barrichello. He retired at the Australian Grand Prix on the first lap, and finished 10th at Malaysia. In Bahrain he retired after running over David Coulthard's wing. He scored his first and currently only points at the Spanish Grand Prix with 6th place. He then had three 11th place finishes in a row at Turkey, Monaco, and Canada. He was the only driver to retire at the French Grand Prix, and failed to finish the British Grand Prix as well.

Racing record

Career summary

Season Series Team Name Races Poles Wins Points Final Placing
1998 British Formula Ford Haywood Racing ? ? 9 133 1st
European Formula Ford ? ? ? ? ? 2nd
Formula Ford Festival Haywood Racing 1 0 1 N/A 1st
1999 British Formula Three Promatecme UK 16 2 3 168 3rd
Macau Grand Prix Promatecme UK 1 0 0 N/A 2nd
Masters of Formula Three Promatecme UK 1 0 0 N/A 5th
Korean F3 Superprix Promatecme UK 1 0 0 N/A 2nd
2000 Formula One Williams 17 0 0 12 8th
2001 Formula One Benetton 17 0 0 2 17th
2002 Formula One Renault 17 0 0 14 7th
2003 Formula One British American Racing 16 0 0 17 9th
2004 Formula One British American Racing 18 1 0 85 3rd
2005 Formula One British American Racing 17 1 0 37 9th
2006 Formula One Honda 18 1 1 56 6th
2007 Formula One Honda 17 0 0 6 15th
2008 Formula One Honda 15 0 0 3* 18th*
* Season in progress

Complete Formula One results

(F1 driver results legend 2) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 WDC Points
2000 BMW WilliamsF1 Team Williams FW22 BMW E41 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
6
SMR
Ret
GBR
5
ESP
17
EUR
10
MON
Ret
CAN
11
FRA
8
AUT
5
GER
4
HUN
9
BEL
5
ITA
Ret
USA
Ret
JPN
5
MAL
Ret
8th 12
2001 Mild Seven Benetton Renault Benetton B201 Renault RS21 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
MAL
11
BRA
10
SMR
12
ESP
15
AUT
Ret
MON
7
CAN
Ret
EUR
13
FRA
16
GBR
15
GER
5
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
9
JPN
7
17th 2
2002 Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Renault R202 Renault RS22 3.0 V10 AUS
Ret
MAL
4
BRA
4
SMR
5
ESP
12
AUT
7
MON
Ret
CAN
15
EUR
5
GBR
12
FRA
6
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
5
USA
8
JPN
6
7th 14
2003 Lucky Strike BAR Honda BAR 005 Honda RA003E 3.0 V10 AUS
10
MAL
7
BRA
Ret
SMR
8
ESP
9
AUT
4
MON
DNS
CAN
Ret
EUR
7
FRA
Ret
GBR
8
GER
8
HUN
10
ITA
Ret
USA
Ret
JPN
4
9th 17
2004 Lucky Strike BAR Honda BAR 006 Honda RA004E 3.0 V10 AUS
6
MAL
3
BHR
3
SMR
2
ESP
8
MON
2
EUR
3
CAN
3
USA
Ret
FRA
5
GBR
4
GER
2
HUN
5
BEL
Ret
ITA
3
CHN
2
JPN
3
BRA
Ret
3rd 85
2005 Lucky Strike BAR Honda BAR 007 Honda RA005E 3.0 V10 AUS
11
MAL
Ret
BHR
Ret
SMR
DSQ
ESP
Ex
MON
Ex
EUR
10
CAN
Ret
USA
DNS
FRA
4
GBR
5
GER
3
HUN
5
TUR
5
ITA
8
BEL
3
BRA
7
JPN
5
CHN
8
9th 37
2006 Lucky Strike Honda
Racing F1 Team
Honda RA106 Honda RA806E 2.4 V8 BHR
4
MAL
3
AUS
10
SMR
7
EUR
Ret
ESP
6
MON
11
GBR
Ret
CAN
9
USA
Ret
FRA
Ret
GER
4
HUN
1
TUR
4
ITA
5
CHN
4
JPN
4
BRA
3
6th 56
2007 Honda Racing F1 Team Honda RA107 Honda RA807E 2.4 V8 AUS
15
MAL
12
BHR
Ret
ESP
12
MON
11
CAN
Ret
USA
12
FRA
8
GBR
10
EUR
Ret
HUN
Ret
TUR
13
ITA
8
BEL
Ret
JPN
11
CHN
5
BRA
Ret
15th 6
2008 Honda Racing F1 Team Honda RA108 Honda RA808E 2.4 V8 AUS
Ret
MAL
10
BHR
Ret
ESP
6
TUR
11
MON
11
CAN
11
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
17
HUN
12
EUR
13
BEL
15
ITA
15
SIN
9
JPN
CHN
BRA
18th* 3*
* Season in progress

Personal life

Button was engaged to English pop singer and actress Louise Griffiths for two years. Their relationship ended in April 2005, and his socialising with friend David Coulthard became tabloid fodder. Another ex girlfriend is socialite Florence Brudenell-Bruce.

Like many Formula One drivers, Button resides in the principality of Monaco, and also has properties in the UK and Bahrain. His hobbies include mountain biking and body boarding; and his car collection includes a 1956 VW Campervan.

References

External links

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