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Does Jenson have a future?
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Does Jenson have a future?
Posted By:   |  09 Dec 2008   |  10:23 pm GMT  |  17 comments

buttonJenson Button was out on Sunday night at the Autosport Awards. He tried to look relaxed about his predicament, but it was not easy and there was a fair bit of sympathy around the room for him.

He renewed his contract with the Honda team in October and must now wait anxiously to see whether the team will be sold in time to take its place on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix on March 29th 2009, whether the new owner will want him in the car or whether another team offers him a ride.

It is another setback in a career, which has not fulfilled the immense promise he showed when he made his debut in 2000, aged 20, with the Williams team.

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17 Comments
  1. Hugh Huntington says:

    Interesting piece James, you really should stick to the writing and hang up that microphone…oops, hasn’t that happened already? Only joking, I actually enjoyed your commentary immensely – don’t know what those boring bastards on all those internet forums were going on about. Did they want a robot preaching at them for an hour and half every other Sunday?? Here’s a quote from Jenson this year regarding his so called ‘poor performances’. He was asked if his disappointing results were solely down to him…

    “No. It’s all the car. You put anyone in our car and they are not going to win races. That’s the way Formula One is. It is a team sport and you need to have everything and we don’t have a competitive car at the moment. I think we concentrated a lot over the winter on the aerodynamics of the car, because we thought that was very weak last year. And we improved that but we sort of didn’t work as hard in other areas as maybe we should have.

    So yeah it hasn’t been a fun car to drive, it has been very difficult to drive. Plus, mid-season we started working on the ’09 car, or concentrating on the ’09 car, so we didn’t improve this year’s car as much as the other teams. And the areas that I wanted to improve with the car we didn’t do, because we were concentrating on ’09.

    So I found it difficult to drive personally, and I think certain areas of the car, Rubens’s style of driving suits more and you can see that on some of the circuits we go to. Other circuits it’s the other way around. So hopefully next season I can have a lot of involvement with the car and it will suit my style. I think going to slick tyres will help a lot as well.”

    I remember the better years in JB’s career, 04, 05 and 06 when on many occassions he beat the so called top drivers – your Schumachers, Alonsos and Raikkonens. The fact that he was going to prove he is the very best in F1 in 09 in Hondas potentially winning machine all the more devstating for him as he will again find himself in an uncompetitive car with the crititis calling for his head. Put Jenson in Hamilton’s 09 McLaren and he will beat him fair and square.

  2. Daniel Hoyes says:

    I certainly hope he gets a good drive. I’m almost hoping another team drops out so that top teams can field three cars, and then Jenson would be in demand…

    Every year without fail, the better the car he has been given, the more he has outperformed his team mate. Given a car with problems, and suddenly his team mate suddenly looks a lot better. Given that fact, I’m sure he can challenge for a championship – he’s just not as good at scraping eighth place.

  3. Lee Grant says:

    I think Jenson has always suffered from the consequences of bad luck – some of it created by him and some of it not.

    I cannot be the only one that cringes every year when he proudly announces in a pre-season interview that he ‘wants to be fighting for the world championship this year’. I suppose you have to keep some motivation and I guess that is Jenson’s way of doing it.

    He is now in a situation where he is no longer the ‘MVP’ (Most Valuable Player) in his team. The MVP is Ross Brawn.

    F1 is a business and during tough times, tough decisions have to be made. If the accountants of whatever conglomerate becomes the Honda buyer decide that the numbers relating to Jenson Button don’t add up then I truly believe he’ll be in the job queue with the other Honda ‘disposable asset’ – Anthony Davidson.

    I suppose Reubens will now disappear into the sunset without as much as a send off from the fans.

    The only recent Honda driver to have a glimmer of hope of getting a drive at the moment is Sato. Though his test times have been impressive, I cannot help thinking that his appeal is more to do with drinks sales rather than championship points.

    I think unless Jenson is prepared to take a massive pay cut, then his days are numbered. I suppose his only hope is that someone buys Honda and he can get to drive the 2009 Honda whilst praying that for the first time in three seasons that the car will go quicker forwards than backwards!!

    Something in my heart tells me this is the end of the road for Jenson Button.

  4. Jackie says:

    I remember watching Jenson in an F3 race at Silverstone in 99. He qualified badly but stormed through the field to finish on the podium, if I remember rightly. I was convinced he was going to be a star and rushed over to have a picture taken with him, which I still have today.
    Unfortunately, it’s not the photo of me and a F1 world champion that I hoped it would be. Rather me and a driver who has never quite fore filled his potential.
    He made it in to F1 at the age of just 20 (two years younger than Hamilton when he made his F1 debut) and may be that’s where the problem lies. Lewis had been schooled by McLaren, from the age of 10, on everything from race craft to politics no doubt, while Jenson seems to have been left to find his own way. I think you’re right James, the management of his career has been inconsistent to say the least and, in the past, his social life has incurred more press coverage than his racing exploits.
    However, I hope you’re not right about him being finished in F1. At 28, he is only 5 years older than Hamilton and still has a lot to give to a F1 team. However I think his best bet would be to jump from the Honda ship and sign for someone like Torso Rosso. Do you think he would be prepared to drop down the grid and take a drive with a so called low ranked (in terms of prestige) team and the pay cut that will go with it?
    I find it sad to think that the 19 year old, whose drive in F3 back in 99 had me mesmerised, could be finished in F1, having never really achieved at the highest level.

  5. johnkell says:

    Even if Jenson has to endure a year on the sidelines it might not be disastrous – he would probably be the most attractive option for a team needing a stand-in for whatever reason. Mika Salo had drives for both BAR and Ferrari in 1999, which probably added an extra couple of years to his career by getting him a Sauber drive the following year. Villeneuve got a few races with Renault in 2004 before joining Sauber too.

  6. Dan says:

    I’ve been a Button fan since the day he entered the sport, and last week’s news was a hammer blow, frankly. For the last two years, fans like me have been holding onto the promise of the 2009 season for Honda to finally deliver the car he deserves. Ross Brawn’s involvement only heightened the expectations, and now it’s all been snatched away at the 11th hour. I’m absolutely gutted. The RA109 could be a world beater and we might never get to see it on track.

    I’m now living in the hope that another team folds and we’re into the territory for 3 car teams to become a reality. That would certainly soften the blow for me.

    Have you heard anythng about the rumours he will test for Toro Rosso this week James, or even the Williams interest? Several sites were reporting it at the weekend, but I’ve seen nothing since and the testing is underway.

  7. Rob says:

    For what it`s worth, I have always wanted to see Jenson in a Ferrari,I just think that out of all the recent british drivers his driving style and approach would be the calming influence the team sometimes lacks now that Michael has retired.There can be no doubt he has the talent,just needs to be in the right team at the right time.He would certainly be the british driver i would miss most from not being on the grid,and in my mind the best british driver since Sir Jackie Stewart. ( There, that should start a debate ! ).

  8. john g says:

    STR have already said that if jenson is available, he has a drive there (would be interesting if Sato got the second seat too!)

    however, the one thing that consistently gets said about jenson is his ‘smoothness’ behind the wheel. yet our current WDC excels in both wet and dry and can hardly be considered smooth – lewis likes to get the back out at every opportunity!

  9. Lady Snowcat says:

    Hmmm…

    A Formula 1 career depends on talent, yes, but also luck and management judgement…

    Mark Webber may never get the opportunity he turned down at Renault… but we’ll never know how that would have worked out for him…

    Lewis may have sunk without trace in a lower order team on Michelins in 2006… I hear that he didn’t get on with them at all hence wasn’t put in for JPM when he deserted for NASCAR….

    And Jenson?…

    Perhaps if he’d ever had the car the like of which Lewis has had at his disposal for the last two years he would have been the guy who won all the accolades and be up for SPOTY….

    We’ll never know will we?… but to sit at the Autosport awards and have Lewis’s sympathy must be the hardest thing in the world to take…. yet he has behaved in the last few years with grace and dignity…. and played a team game in a way that Michael Schumacher did at Ferrari when things went wrong… any nasty comments were behind closed doors…

    Let’s hope that his tact and good manners are rewarded and that his notable talents have a chance to shine…

    You never know … all those that have him as best of the second tier may have to recalibrate him with the best….

    Here’s hoping he gets a chance, at least, to allow us to judge him properly….

  10. F1Wolf says:

    @ john g – according to other media rumours STR also said that what happened to Honda will not affect their driver selection for 2009 …

    I think for 2009 Button’s future lies only with the team once known as Honda. Someone will probably pick up that team and as long as they do not have to pay that huge salary Honda was paying to Button, he should be fine …

    And who knows, if the 2009 car is as good as everybody says, it may not be that bad year for Button

  11. mattanddebz says:

    How far fetched is the idea of Button driving for Force India next year?

    Obviously the hot rumours are that it’ll be a McLaren test driver but is there are possibility FI will be looking at getting Button on board? Could be an interesting partnership.

  12. Ben Metcalfe says:

    As we know, F1 is not just a sport – it’s a business too. And businesses need good management to succeeed.

    Jenson has now suffered three critically poor management decisions during his time in F1 alone (who know’s what has happened in junior leagues when the sport light was off of him).

    First it was getting shafted out of a Williams drive to endure time at Renualt during their low period. Then signing to Williams BMW and having to buy out of that agreement and now this.

    Now, some might say his management had no idea this was coming – but I simply don’t believe that Honda just decided to shut the F1 operation down in a matter of days.

    If you’re not in the right car, you’ve not got any chance and that comes down to good management. Jenson’s never had that.

  13. JP Flynn says:

    Jenson Button is no different to most of the F1 grid; Go through the detail of each one of them and they all had great moments which if correllated like this and like that they’d be faster than Schumacher. But in reality, they never put it all together.

    For me I think “Jense” has had tonnes of opportunity to make things happen but little has actually happened. The Honda team of this era was never ever ever going to win a championship and the one race victory was a bit flukey.

    I think his judgement has been compromised by the money involved in deals. Button’s crazy expensive contract with Honda always reminds me of Eddie Irvine’s 3 year Jaguar contract. At the price Honda were paying, the deal never made racing sense; it only made PR sense to a manufacturer who want a “High profile driver”. From the Irvine / Button point of view, taking such a contract was almost an acknowledgement that “the championship dream is over, I’ll cash in now while I’m still high profile”.

    If button really believed in his own talent he would have been knocking on the door of Ron Dennis after 3 or 4 races in ’08 (When it was becoming evident that Kovalainen was evidently not up to the job) and saying “look Ron, Kovy’s embarrassing you, put me in that car in ’09 and I’ll prove my determination by signing a deal for a cash for points only”. Maybe he did do that but the bottom line is that he’s not in a McLaren.

    It constantly baffles me how there is not more driver turnover in F1. There is simply so much talent brewing below the surface that I can’t understand how drivers like Barrichello, Button and fisichella are being paid so much when teams could get someone like Vettel to drive almost for free. OK, there is risk with a youngster but anyone with an eye for it can identify and avoid a chequebook racer like piquet jr. I mean… how many years should each one of them get in F1?

    The only way “Jence” represents better value to a team owner (e.g. Christian Horner) than a hot-shoe youngster in ’09 is if he agrees a “flight expenses only” deal and an “earn your salary” ratcheted points system” (with exponential increases).

  14. Paddock F1 says:

    Hopefully a buyer for the Honda team will emerge – I’d imagine the focus would be on getting a competitive car and capable drivers so I don’t think jenson is in trouble plus bruno Senna will be an attractive prospect as he will be inexpensive. With the infrastructure and Ross Brawn, in ddition to the cost changes recently agreed by FOTA and FIA. The new Honda team could easily emerge competitively in the new Era of Formula One.

  15. Andrew says:

    Jenson has made a number of bad poorly informed choices on and off the track and this is where he has found himself as a result. Cowardly escaping from Williams because he felt that the car was going backwards despite signing a contract yet he stayed with Honda at the back of the grid for two years now! Why? I imagine money more than anything else.

    His performances this year were bored, uninterested and scrappy yet Alonso proved if you worked hard, pushed the team you can with help turn a bad car around and get some points (he even managed to get some wins.) Jenson only has himself to blame for this mess by signing a long term contract and all this talk about the 09 car being a front runner and a race winner? We always hear that stuff coming from BAR and Honda before the season begins and nothing happens.

  16. R3D says:

    Wow…what a difference a year makes after that Honda pullout. WDC 2009 Button.

    Happy 32nd Birthday, Cheers!

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