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Posted on May 21, 2009
Button gets into the champion's mind set | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

I wasn’t surprised to hear Jenson Button saying that racing is dominating his life at the moment.

Button is like many drivers who have found themselves in with a chance of winning the world title. Presented with an unexpected opportunity to fulfill his lifetime’s ambition, Button is finding that he can think of little else between races.

“I’m probably a right boring bastard at the moment, I really am,” he said.

Jenson has always had a relaxed air about him in person and in the years when things were not going so well, he found it easy to switch off between races. But beneath the relaxed facade there is an intensity about him; he was always unsettled by not being competitive. He appears to be wearing his current situation quite easily, but it’s clearly taking over his life. He finds himself thinking through all the scenarios, considering every possible thing which might help him to land the grand prize,

“It’s different because things are going well and you want to be thinking about how you can improve. When things aren’t going so well, you know you need to improve the car and where you are, but you also need to get away from the racing, to forget about it for a few days. At the moment, that’s not possible.

“This season is weird because after the last couple of races I’ve won. I’ve obviously enjoyed the weekend, but I wake up on a Monday morning and I’m already thinking about the next race.

“It’s quite a strange feeling, very different to the rest of my Formula 1 career, winning four races out of five, but you do get used to it very quickly. I will never forget how difficult it can get, how tough it can get, but when you’re winning, finishing second is a disappointment.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve been non-stop thinking about the next race, running through it in my mind, getting all the data. It’s been quite a stressful few weeks, you wouldn’t think so, but it is more stressful.”

Michael Schumacher lived in this mental state for the best part of 12 years. It’s hard not to become compulsive-obsessive in that position.

Racing is a kind of controlled chaos, there are so many variables at play, especially at the sharp end of Formula 1. A driver always wants to try to master every aspect, control every situation, to bring it under his control, to dominate.

In this he will have been influenced by the mentality of Ross Brawn, who knows all about maintaining competitiveness and giving nothing away.

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Button gets into the champion's mind set
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  1.   1. Posted By: driving courses
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 9:59 am 

    Many people would be surprised that driving in F1 and earning millions a year didn’t concentrate Jenson’s mind before now!

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  2.   2. Posted By: Neil
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 10:31 am 

    If Button does become champion I think it will be as undeserving as Damon Hill’s win in 1996. At that time, he too had a teammate who really should have done much better with the same equipment and there wasn’t really an external challenge.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Howard Hughes
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 11:35 am 

    Superb post. Button appears to fall between two stools really – the kind of born-to-greatness genius that people associate with Schumacher, Senna, Kimi, Fangio etc, and the less-raw-talent-but-sheer-bloody-grit winners like Hills Jr & Sr, Mansell etc… But whether or not he’s been blessed by the gods in quite the way other luminaries have been, I defy anyone to begrudge him his moment in the sun, given the completely stoic manner with which he has met all his previous career disappointments.

    He’s that rare thing in racing I think, a gentleman. Good on ‘im.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Alex
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 11:49 am 

    Button is experiencing a champinship mindset to winning, a new level of commitement off the track that previous champions like Shumi, Alonso, Hamilton learnt, which makes the highs higher and the lows lower and they become more passionate about their jobs.

    He could go on to win 2 or 3 championships in a row when his mind is in that frame.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Clackers
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 1:10 pm 

    It is nice to see Button earning some respect at last, but I cannot believe someone like him will win the Championship. Once he starts to get beaten by Rubens at a couple of races (which will happen soon, maybe Monaco) his head will drop and the pendulum will swing. I wonder if all the supposedly knowledgeable Button Hyperbolists will admit they were wrong after all?

    Realistically, in 2 or 3 races time, Button will not be leading the Championship. Also, one has to wonder if his car will be capable of challenging for podia from Turkey onwards, because we now have Red Bull (undoubedtly the fastest car on the grid) and Ferrari (when they sort out their reliability) who will scrap over the podia in future, maybe Hamilton, too. I struggle to see where Button is going to get enough points from to actually win the title.

    When Button makes his first mistake – what if he bins it in the wall at Monaco while Rubens goes on to win which will reduce the gap to 4 points – his confidence will go to pieces, as we have seen many times before in his career, notably early 2006 and the whole of 2008.

    The favourites have to Barrichello and Vettel over the course of the season. Button is leading now, but it’s a false picture.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Kirk
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:11 pm 

    Undeserving?!? What are you on about?!?

    If that was the case then certainly the same could be said about Senna in ’88, Mansell in ’92 and Schumacher in 2001, 2002…

    In my eyes nobody gets to be F1 world champion in an “underserved” manner, even if your car is vastly superior – and this season Brawn is NOT that far ahead as you might think, as Red Bull are close and the top teams are catching up all the time. The guy still has to get the car to the finish at every race, get the big point finishes, not mess it up – so give Jenson some credit for heavens sake!

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  7.   7. Posted By: LameDuck
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:22 pm 

    Hmmm, clearly watching a different season to me!

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  8.   8. Posted By: LameDuck
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:26 pm 

    I have to agree with this one. He’s clearly happy, but doesn’t gloat or act smug, like so many others do. Last week when Rubens was crest fallen at losing the race, Button took time out before the podium to put his arm on his shoulder.
    It’s not about deserving the title for the bad car years, it’s more about being a deserving guy in general. I chose to ignore the Williams issue, I think that was just a super sales job by the very persuasive Richards…

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  9.   9. Posted By: kfzmeister
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:37 pm 

    Funny comment about Schumacher becoming complusive-obsessive while/ during his winning years.
    That’s like putting the carriage before the horse…
    One doesn’t become that way all of a sudden! One surely is like that and as a result has things like that happen…

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  10.   10. Posted By: krad
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:39 pm 

    you could equally argue that many of Schumachers championships were not deserved as well as he was in a car that was so much better than the rest of the field, meaning all but the lowest driver could win the championship in it

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  11.   11. Posted By: krad
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:43 pm 

    Don’t be so sure he wont do it. If Button continues like this for a few more races you will need one of the other teams to become dominant to make up the ground. There is a very good chance all the teams you mention could do what you say but they could divide and conquer each other playing straight into buttons hands.

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  12.   12. Posted By: Marc
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 2:56 pm 

    You could say the same about Mansell, Schumacher, Alonso, JV and Hakkinnen but it doesn’t stop them being deserving champions. He’s got himself in a position where he’s capitalising on having a competitive car. Credit where credit’s due, he’s doing what he’s paid to do!

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  13.   13. Posted By: Michel S.
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 3:01 pm 

    You might want to recheck your math. The only person who can overtake Button in (in your words) “2 or 3 races” is Barrichello, and to do that, he has to win two races with Button scoring at most 1 point.

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  14.   14. Posted By: James G
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 4:19 pm 

    You struggle to see where he’s going to get enough points to win, despite the fact that he has an average of 9.2/10 per race? Hmm.

    Clackers, if you’d like to place a wager on Rubens being ahead of Jenson in 2 races time, I’m game. I accept cash, cheque, paypal or direct bank transfer.

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  15.   15. Posted By: Tester
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 4:26 pm 

    “It’s different because things are going well and you want to be thinking about how you can improve. When things aren’t going so well, you know you need to improve the car and where you are, but you also need to get away from the racing, to forget about it for a few days. At the moment, that’s not possible.”

    ——————————————————–

    Prrof to me that all he needs is a winning car. He’s no Fernando Alonso.

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  16.   16. Posted By: MartinWR
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 6:03 pm 

    Knock, knock, knock……

    Give me strength. What do expect, Jenson to lap everyone else for every other lap he does? Visibly take every corner on two wheels?

    Seriously, you have to wonder what produces this weird mindset. Is it because Jenson seems to be decent sort of guy, laid-back, honest. and low key, and that irks them in some strange way. Perhaps they are more impressed by the self-serving, mendacious, inflated ego character type, i.e. the very opposite of Jenson.

    There is definitely something about this supremely talented driver that seems to get under the skin of a certain type of person. The result is you find them spouting this inane drivel all too often. Quite what it is about Jenson that unhinges their marbles will always be a mystery to me, but it certainly isn’t any lack of ability on Jenson’s part.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Suzy
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 8:17 pm 

    I think Damon Hill is one of the most underrated WDCs ever. As a Schumacher fan I have great respect for him and the way he got to the top. He worked and fought hard for that all through the years thus he was as deserving as anyone. I also think he was quick, quicker than he was given credit for. He beat Jacques Villeneuve when they were teammates and he also gave Prost a run for his money in many races in 1993, although Prost was clearly Williams’ Nr 1 driver and Hill was a rookie that season. And who can forget his sensational 1997 Hungarian GP which he almost won in an Arrows?! He was also a good wet-weather driver. His weak point was perhaps overtaking, but he was a very quick driver and a deserving champion.

    I think Button too is underrated because he is not spectacular, rather smooth. But he is a great driver and he is proving it this year when given the right car. He can pull great laps when needed (see his qualifying in Barcelona), he can overtake when needed (see his move on Hamilton in Bahrain, when Vettel lost the race by stucking behind the McLaren), he is consistent. I am not saying he is the best there is, but he is great and if he wins he would be a deserving WDC.

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  18.   18. Posted By: Nick
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 9:47 pm 

    Neil, your talking rot!
    Barrichello has exactly the same car as Jenson yet he has been destroyed by Jenson.
    The Brawn car is good but its not as far ahead as you are implying the Red Bulls have been snapping at the Brawns heels but Jenson has got the job done in style.
    .

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  19.   19. Posted By: IM
        Date: May 21st, 2009 @ 10:59 pm 

    Of course Fernando didn’t win in a winning car! :o

    The fact is that you need the best car or extremely close to it to challenge for the championship. Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton, Schumacher all won their titles in the best car.. Not winning in a bad car doesnt make you any less of a driver (especially cars as bad as the last two Honda’s).

    Jenson drove superbly in 2007 and had a bad year in 2008, I think people got so used to Schumacher’s robotic winning efficiency that they think every driver should just perform at the same level all the time. Even Schumi had up and down years (or stretches). Jenson finally has a car worthy of his immense talent (which was very visible before this year!) and is fully exploiting it, his success won’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s followed his career over the years and he is fully deserving of the world title should he win it.

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  20.   20. Posted By: Richard Mee
        Date: May 22nd, 2009 @ 8:47 am 

    …..Comment dismissed. Never heard such utter self-defeatist rubbish! What is it about some of us Brits and not being able to appreciate or take pride in our successes. Go and be a grouch somewhere else Neil.

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  21.   21. Posted By: Richard Mee
        Date: May 22nd, 2009 @ 8:52 am 

    I assume you’ll have the balls to come back on here and eat those words in about 4 months Clackers… (as i will if you turn out to be correct)

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  22.   22. Posted By: MartinWR
        Date: May 22nd, 2009 @ 10:03 am 

    And for all those who made a bee-line to Ladbroke’s, after that first Barcelona test of the car, to have a punt on Jense for the title at totally silly odds, I hope he does!

    You still couldn’t call it though.

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  23.   23. Posted By: Kirk
        Date: May 22nd, 2009 @ 11:33 am 

    Micheal Schumacher on Jenson Button

    “When Jenson arrived in F1 you could see straight away that he was highly talented. He was out-qualifying and sometimes outracing his team-mate”

    “If you see a driver (Ralf) who has some experience and a new kid comes in and straight away matches the pace, then you see that they are highly talented”

    Enough said.

    [Reply]

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