Birth date: 19/01/1980
First F1 race: Australian Grand Prix, 2000
2012 points: 188
2012 best finish: 1 (x3)
2012 championship position: 5th
There’s a sort of grudging, obstinate respect in Formula 1 for Jensen Button. Written off as a bit of a playboy in the early stages of his career – when he went 114 races without a win in some pretty ordinary cars – he’s slowly but surely built himself a reputation as one of the most technically accomplished drivers in the sport.
It looked as though his story of steady progress would give way to a golden period when, in 2009, he became the toast of the nation by winning the world championship with Brawn.
In that heady summer, Button’s image became omnipresent and it was easy to be seduced by the idea that the man from Frome would go on to dominate F1 for the foreseeable future.
As it turned out, Button’s career took another surprising turn when he announced he’d be joining McLaren to take a perceived backseat to new team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
At the time that felt like an act of self-sabotage born of Button’s questionable judgement. But when you consider that Button has outlived Hamilton at McLaren and, in fact, recorded more points than his younger rival in their time as team-mates, it starts to look less like the easy way out and more an act of incredible self-belief.
Button has seen it all in his thirteen-year career, and he will need that impermeable self-confidence to be at its most resilient this season if he’s to overcome the difficulties of a car with some huge question marks still hanging over it.
2013 predictions: “I don’t think any team really knows or understands the competitive order this year. It’s been an extremely hard-to-read winter: varying fuel-loads and levels of tire degradation mean it’s hard to accurately predict who’ll have the best car.”
Did you know?
Button has a huge collection of cars, perhaps the most surprising of which is a 1956, split windscreen, Volkswagen campervan.