Jenson Button has opened up on life after leaving the Formula 1 ahead of the brand new season of high-octane action.
The 40-year-old will return to the circuits that witnessed his rise to becoming a world champion as an analyst for Sky Sports F1 in 2020.
He spoke exclusively and openly to RadioTimes.com about life in the pedestrian lane, his ultimate ambition, and how 2019 flipped his world upside down.
First and foremost, Button stressed: “I still want to race, I’m a racer and I’ll never not want to race.
“I do off-roading. It’s completely different, it’s a new skill, I’m learning all the time and still really rubbish at it but I’m trying my best at getting better.
“I’ve been driving this off-road truck I got last year. It’s got 570 horsepower and three feet of suspension travel and it’s the most difficult thing I’ve tried to do in my life.
“I qualified 17th last weekend out of 42 trucks. 17th. And I was 30 seconds slower than the quickest guy on a seven-mile loop. It is unbelievably difficult.
“It’s so out of your comfort zone, it’s great, I get so many people come up to me saying they’re so happy I’m doing this but most people haven’t got a clue who I am, which is also great.”
Button still has a spark for racing, one that won’t fade away, but his eyes truly lit up as the discussion flowed into his greatest passion.
“I’m just scared the whole time. Just bloody scared the whole time – it’s hilarious.”
No, not powering around a desert in a souped-up truck, Button became a father – alongside partner Brittny Ward – last year and his whole outlook on life has been transformed.
“I am loving being a dad,” he beamed. “I’m a lot more relaxed than I was but we have the baby monitor and listening to him sleep and if he holds his breath for a second it’s like ‘what? What was that? Is the temperature ok in the room?’ there’s so many things.
“It’s tough when you go away but you’re very excited to go home and see them again. It’s just so much fun seeing this little human that you made grow up.
“It’s awesome. When a baby is born you’re a dad in a second. The mum has been a mum for nine months, they have the connection, for us it’s like ‘wow, I’m a dad’ it’s very different.
“It’s awesome seeing him smile, teaching them things. He was reading my book the other day which I thought was pretty cool, he was well into it!
“I can’t wait to show him Tooned – the cartoon McLaren did with me and Lewis. Can’t wait to show him that when he’s a couple of years older. ‘Look daddy!’ He’s not going to give a s*** about my racing career, he’s going to love that I’m in a cartoon.”
Button is a happy man, genuinely relaxed and ‘loving life’ and when discussing his future, it’s clear that parenthood has shaped his ambitions.
He said: “I want to be racing when he’s a bit older. I want to do Le Mans when my kid knows what I’m doing.
“I want my kid to be at Le Mans when I’m competing, that’s definitely an aim.
“I’ll make sure I’m fit enough, I’ll make sure my reactions are good and even though I’ll be mid-40s I’ll be proper fit.”
Many drivers transition to other forms of racing once they step out of the Formula 1 world, a recent example being Fernando Alonso’s exploits in the iconic Indy 500.
Button has been asked previously whether he would follow that path but remained vague on the subject until now. He is open to racing in various formats but the Indy 500 remains a closed door given tragic circumstances from the past.
He candidly explained: “I was watching some video footage someone sent me the other day from 1989. I was racing in karts at Clay Pigeon – the Clay Pigeon Super Prix.
“I was racing with two other drivers at one moment – Justin Wilson and Dan Wheldon – and both of them have been killed in IndyCar so it’s like ‘no’.
“It’s not worth it. I like IndyCar, I think the racing’s fantastic. The racing is really, really good and hopefully the British public will see that but yeah, I can’t do ovals.
“If I was 19 and hadn’t got into F1, I might have given it a go but now? No. I’ve had a great career in F1. I don’t feel I need to go race in an oval and risk more than I should.”
Button will continue to push the limits in various other disciplines with a return to where it all began on the cards.
“I might do some go-kart races, which is mad, but again that will be a massive challenge. I haven’t driven one of them since about 1997 so we’ll see how that goes.
“It’s all fun stuff but I always want to be top of my game and if a 16-year-old beats me I’ll be gutted. And they probably will beat me!”
For now though, Button is focused on the season ahead and believes he can bring an edge to Sky Sports F1’s analysis throughout the 2020 season.
He said: “I can probably ask drivers more direct questions than maybe other people because I’ve raced against 80 per cent of the grid.
“I know how a driver feels when he qualifies third and his team-mate is on pole. I can see it in their eyes when they get out of the car.
“On the other side of it, I know when a driver has done a good job and he’s happy with what he’s achieved even if he’s not on pole position, you see it in his eyes.
“I look at them and I know what to ask them because I know how they’re feeling at that moment in time – I can see it from their point of view.”
The 2020 F1 season gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday 15th March live on Sky Sports F1.