Button holds onto dad's inspiration

Congleton Guardian: Jenson Button is thankful of his father's influence Jenson Button is thankful of his father's influence

Jenson Button heads into his 250th grand prix this weekend with the inspirational words of late father John still ringing in his ears and providing a poignant reminder as to why he remains in love with the sport.

After making his debut at the age of 20 in 2000, 34-year-old Button is currently competing in his 15th Formula One campaign, with only four other drivers ahead of him who have driven in more races.

At present Rubens Barrichello leads the way with 322 career starts, followed by seven-times champion Michael Schumacher (307), Riccardo Patrese (256) and Jarno Trulli (252).

Button has naturally endured a number of highs and lows along the way, with his capture of the 2009 world title being the zenith, and earlier this year the loss of his father John - who attended all but one of his son's races prior to this season - being the nadir.

Ahead of reaching the milestone at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Button concedes it is "crazy" to consider the fact he has been around for so long.

But this year is another learning experience for Button without his dad by his side, although there is one comment that sticks with him to this day.

Reminiscing, Button said: "The nicest thing anyone ever said to me came from my dad.

"He said: 'You might not be the quickest driver in the world, but you're the best'. Those words meant a lot, and they still do."

A smooth, skilful style, rather than outright speed, has resulted in Button claiming 15 race wins and eight poles, in addition to his one world title.

Now F1's most experienced active driver, Button has learned a number of lessons along the way, but with one more important than others.

"It would be to take the rough with the smooth," added Button.

"Like most F1 drivers I didn't experience much rough en route to F1 and it was only when I got here I had to learn to deal with it.

"You're going to have frustrating days, but it can turn around tomorrow and you've got to be ready for that moment."

As was the case at the end of 2008, the start of 2009 when Button's days appeared numbered following Honda's withdrawal from the sport.

Out of the ashes of the Japanese manufacturer's demise rose the phoenix of Brawn GP, and with it an unlikely championship triumph.

At the end of that year came Button's surprise move to McLaren, and with it a battle of the Britons as he was up against Lewis Hamilton, to this day the man he regards as the best of his 10 team-mates.

Offering an intriguing insight into Hamilton, Button said: "The most interesting and exciting team-mate has been Lewis.

"He was very up and down emotionally, but always super-fast. He's very talented and it was great having him alongside me.

"He was very quick in qualifying and there were days when I'd look at his lap time and say, 'I don't know how he did that'.

"But there were days when I beat him and they felt very special. In terms of race pace there wasn't much between us and we both had to do the perfect job to beat each other."

At the end of the day part of Button's longevity in F1 is down to the fact he has always proven himself competitive, no matter who has been on the opposing side of the garage.

"I'm very happy with my career, even though there have been highs and lows," said Button.

"One of the things I'm most proud of is the way I've stacked up against my team-mates.

"I've had 10 of them in 15 seasons, so I've needed to prove myself to the new guy sat beside me virtually every year.

"It's a very funny sport in that respect because even after everything you've achieved, you've still got to prove yourself time and again."

Back in 2011 Button added another fairytale chapter to his career when he won his 200th grand prix, taking the chequered flag in Hungary with McLaren.

It would be a major surprise if Button were to mark his latest milestone with a win in Bahrain, which this year stages a night race as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations.

With McLaren competitive, but off the pace of frontrunning Mercedes, Button said: "The gap to them is a concern. They're cruising round.

"It's amazing to think they are that much quicker than the rest.

"They do have the best power unit, as we do, so we have no excuse there, but they've a consistent car that has downforce, and that is where we are lacking and where we have to improve."

Comments (1)

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6:28pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Martin999 says...

One of the nice guys of F1 motor sport. Always very down to earth and honest. I hope McLaren give home a competitive car soon. Good luck Jenson.
One of the nice guys of F1 motor sport. Always very down to earth and honest. I hope McLaren give home a competitive car soon. Good luck Jenson. Martin999
  • Score: 1
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