World champion, racing icon, sporting superstar... Jenson is all this and more. Yet he’s about to face his toughest test yet: a grilling by the F1 paddock
After surviving 16 years in the F1 viper pit, you’d expect to have acquired a few enemies. There would be a scar or three, surely, from knives inserted between the shoulder blades. You’d want to make sure you could still count all the ngers on your hands after innumerable handshakes of questionable integrity. You’d have grown a hardened shell, unseen but impenetrable and ever-present, to guard against unwelcome interaction. And most certainly, after 284 grands prix and counting, you would expect your enthusiasm to have dimmed somewhat.
Yet despite having essayed an enviably long and competitive F1 career, none of this applies to Jenson Button. Though undoubtedly now an elder statesman in a driver cadre that includes such eager pups as 18-year-old Max Verstappen, Button remains sharp, focused, hungry… all the myriad attributes needed to make up the package of a complete grand prix driver.
In Formula 1 terms he has become something of a national treasure – a respected presence so integral to the sport’s proceedings, it seems almost unimaginable that a grand prix could start without him.
And, as F1 Racing discovered in preparing for this ‘They Ask The Questions’ interview, JB also has an awful lot of friends in F1. Rarely – in fact, never, in our experience – have paddock peers been so keen to participate in one of these bespoke Q&As, created by asking them what question they would like to put to Jenson.
He carries his position graciously, still putting energy into media time, for example, when many might long ago have become bored with such duties. Enjoy, then, his honest answers to this peer-group interrogation. For there is, after all, only one Jenson Alexander Lyons Button.
You’ve been team-mate to both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. How do they differ? Who is better? David Coulthard [A groan from Jenson] Read the papers! [Laughter from a bushy-bearded McLaren press aide]. I answered this question yesterday! F1 Racing: You seemed to say that Alonso was a tougher ght… JB: In a race situation, Fernando is very consistent. Lewis can be unbelievably quick, but on another day you’d wonder where he was. Maybe he has more experience now. Maybe Lewis is a different driver today. It is three years since we raced together [Button and Hamilton were McLaren team-mates from 2010-2012].
Would you have liked me to be your team boss? Claire Williams Would you have liked me to be your driver?! F1R: I’d say from that she probably would… JB: It sounds like it, is what I’d say to that.
What did you nd in the bed when you bought that motorhome off me in 2003? Mika Salo Nothing! The only thing I did nd was that there was no Harley Davidson on it… he had a Harley sprayed the same colours as the motorhome. That motorhome ended up being my manager’s, so it has done the rounds. But it’s a great old bus. I loved it. And, for me, that sort of living around a grand prix weekend is the way it’s got to be. F1R: Is it still in circulation? JB: It’s somewhere, yes. Around motorsport.