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Button loses his rag over question of will to win
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Button loses his rag over question of will to win
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Aug 2009   |  10:41 am GMT  |  49 comments

Jenson Button lost his cool yesterday with the man from the Times, Ed Gorman, when he suggested that in the eyes of some, Button didn’t actually want to win the world championship.

“I don’t think people are saying that seriously. Who could possibly say that?” said an incredulous Button.
Buttn8

Button has made heavy going of shutting out this world title lately, especially in Valencia where he failed to turn a winning car into a winning result. He made a mistake in qualifying and then got boxed in at the start, dropping from 5th to 9th on the opening lap. This has led to questions about Button’s killer instinct, his raw desire to finish off the opposition.

Button went on; “Does Jenson want this title or not? It’s a pretty silly question, isn’t it? Why the f*** am I here?”

“This is not what I have to say because that is not a question, is it?” he said. “In reality, that is not the question — it can’t be. ‘Does he want the title?’ ‘No, I want to finish second or third.’

This exchange took place in part 2 of his briefing yesterday afternoon. The first part was conducted in good spirit with Button talking about being in the best position with a big advantage over his rivals. This time last year Lewis Hamilton left Spa with a single point advantage over Felipe Massa.

I always think that it is not the way a sportsman conducts himself in planned situations which counts, but how he reacts to situations and Button’s hair trigger temper yesterday, when he should have just laughed and risen above it shows that he is clearly feeling the pressure. It was a pretty daft question, but a cunning one in that it was soliciting a response. But there is no reason to panic. He knows that there are two tracks coming up which will suit his car more than the Red Bull, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

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49 Comments
  1. Luke says:

    Oh dear! The pressure does appear to be getting to him. I think another win will put him at ease though! :)

    I think though he has a good lead in the championship and anything could happen yet. The danger is now that Rubens has a win behind him and will have more confidence.

    Im looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season unfolds!

  2. Paul Douglas says:

    On the other hand, you can hardly blame him. Over the past couple of weeks, the number of people questioning his drive to win or whatever has been absurd. I’ve lost my rag over it a couple of times and it’s not even me in the car. It’s the same as all this nonsense about Kimi not liking Formula One anymore – idle speculation from people who seem to know very little for sure, but still “reckon” a lot.

    1. Antoine says:

      I don’t think Hamilton or Kimi would get the same treatment should they say something like that…

      Button needs to understand that people only talk about the MAN leading the championship, if he only prefers media to talk about his wins and forget the “bad results” then, I’m sorry he’s not ready :-(,

      By the way that’s strong language…

  3. Martin Samm says:

    trouble is, you can’t rely on beating Red Bull at Abu Dhabi and Singapore as a strategy – anything can happen; reliability issues, on track incidents and also RB may well improve their car. He needs to beat them at every opportunity and not rely on ifs buts and maybes.

    I’m glad he’s angry; shows he’s human, keen and hungry for it.

  4. Josef says:

    Well they were pushing his buttons.

  5. Jacqui says:

    Welcome to Kimi’s world…

  6. Oliver Drew says:

    Can’t blame Button to be honest, it was a really stupid question. A better question would be “do you think that your fight for the World Title is putting you under more pressure than ever before in your career”….but to ask whether or not he wants to win it is idiotic – why wouldn’t he want to win it!

    1. Antoine says:

      I don’t think that was stupid question at all, because when many of us are watching him, we can’t help but ask the same question. That’s how bad we want that title for him…

  7. Kirk says:

    Well, I don’t know this Ed Gorman but I do know that he comes up with the most daft and nonsensical questions and quotes I have ever seen in the past for a journalist. I assume he is a proper journalist, as he works for The Times – mind you, nowadays that doesn’t mean much…

    After the German GP in 2008 when Piquet Jr finished 2nd, was celebrating his first podium, then popping the bubbly with his mechanics this Ed Goeman couldn’t say a good word about him in his race report, and instead went with something along the lines of “he looked sad, like someone who didn’t want to be there”. Seriously…

    Can only think this guy doesn’t know who is who in the paddock, and gets Piquet mixed up with Kimi, Jenson mixed up with Badoer…

    Wasn’t really suprised he was the one asking Jenson such a stupid question. And I find Jenson’s response actually quite reasonable and appropriate considering the question put before him. Good on you JB!

  8. Colin says:

    People say the same thing about Kimi Raikkonen all the time through his career. I think that Jenson has his own way of going about it. Just because someone has poor races last year we think they are crap. Like Raikkonen last year for example having a bad qualy but doing a fast race, was just like Button in Valencia. F1 is over analyzed to a fault.

  9. Alex says:

    Poor guy, in my opinion if he loses the WDC this year, he will be done as a driver as his confidence will go in the toilet. So I wish him good luck!

  10. Paul says:

    It’s sad to see such a question coming from a British journalist. It seems we’re not happy unless our best sports people are losing, and when they look like they might actually win something, we’re only to happy to heap more pressure on them and question their every move.

    Rediculous. Button was right to snap, that was a pathetic question. It seems they didn’t learn from Lewis.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think you are reading too much into it.

  11. Simon Neil says:

    You have to admit, the question was indeed pretty silly… JB just needs to calm down, the country is behind him. Go mate, this year is yours!

  12. Cliff says:

    James,
    Why do journalists insist on making such meaningless statements? Jenson’s repsonse was probably that of a man under presssure and walked straight into a curve ball, but why go all the way to Belgium to make such a dumb comment? Is he a F1 Journalist or someone on a Jolly? If that’s the best question the times can ask, they could have saved their money and wrote the story from London. On a more serious note, whats the situation with the engines of the Brawns and Mark Webber? I know that they do not have same problems as Vettel, but have they got plenty in reserve.

    1. James Allen says:

      He was trying to get a rise out of him. If no-one ever did anything like that then what would you learn about his state of mind? The tension is close to the surface, that is clear to see. It was an interesting psychological exercise.

      1. Nicollers says:

        I’m all for journalists asking leading questions, instead of suggestive ones where drivers give the usual mundain answers. It makes the driver think and speak for himself instead of providing the world with the company line. That said, given this question from Ed Gorman, the driver can hardly win.

        If Kimi was asked the question and answered simply with “Yes”, he would be accused of being his usual prickly self.

        If Jenson had said “Yes I do, it will be great for the team, the UK and me etc”, then I’d be thinking along the lines of my opening line. Mundain question, mundain answer.

        If either had said, “You know what Ed, you’re right, I love finishing 6th”, I reckon we’d all find it quite funny.

        Hindsight is a wonderful thing though, so it does show that Jenson is under pressure and feeling it. Let’s hope something kick starts his season soon….

      2. Snail says:

        I think Jenson should have deadpanned: “No”.

        That’d give them something to think about. Of course they wouldn’t take it the way it was intended and the headlines would be “Jenson gives up on championship” when of course he meant anything but.

      3. Jojo says:

        I agree in fact it is the same psychology that Kimi uses against journalists. They just cant put the man down. Kimi’s got a very strong personality..media couldnt quite extract anything from him..the reason why they are pretty hard on him…stupid answers to stupid questions..same answers to the same questions over and over again.

      4. GP says:

        I have to agree with you Jojo, some journalists ask boring and repetitive questions. I was just on Autosport’s web site reading JB’s Q&A and didn’t finish reading it. A driver’s toughest job is not driving, it’s dealing with stupid and ignorant, meaningless questions.

        Sorry James, but some of your colleagues are pretty daft.

  13. Leon says:

    Regarding Vettel’s engine blow-ups. I think he already used 6, but only 4 have blown up. Will he be able to use the 2 that are still in a working condition (even they may have lost some power by having done a couple of races already)?

    1. krad says:

      he could well use them, the problem is like you say the loss of power. WIth the grid so tight this year even a loss of 10 bph could be enough to put him way down in quali, which messes up the ideal race strategy. IF red bull are serious about winning the WDC they need to back webber now

  14. Jojo says:

    Button needs to seek advice advice from Kimi on how to appropriately answer such daft questions and how to deal with such kind of reporters. But having said that, it was a stupid question..

  15. rpaco says:

    Well I suppose if someone keeps poking you with a stick, eventually you turn round grab the stick and belt him with it.

    Journalists get away with lots of provocative stuff like that, which if said in a pub to a normal person would eventually have got them a mouth with less teeth, and an invitation to the car park for an encore..

    Drivers, like film stars and celebrities, have cameras stuck into their faces and their path intentionally blocked. If I do it, its arrestable obstruction, apparently the law applies in reverse to but if the celebrity dares to react with a single push at the pappirazzo moron sticking a camera in his eye than he ends up in court instead of the offensive moron. This is the reason why so many live in Switzerland.

  16. rpaco says:

    Correction:
    If I do it, its arrestable obstruction, apparently the law applies in reverse to pappirazzi, so if the celebrity dares to react with a single push at the pappirazzo moron sticking a camera in his eye than he ends up in court instead of the offensive moron. This is the reason why so many live in Switzerland.

  17. Carl Craven says:

    Mighty typical of the British press to get right behind their sportsmen and encourage them along rather kick them before they’re even down.

    Shameful.

    IMO Button’s reaction was right-on. Laughing it off might have come across as nervous.

  18. Steve Mc says:

    James,

    It’s interesting to see how you’ve interpreted Jenson’s response to the curveball that Ed Gorman tossed in there; Gorman himself writes about how relieved he was to see that sort of reaction – it demonstrated to him that Jenson does have a bit of fire in his belly, and the stomach for the ensuing fight for the championship.

    He also mentions that the sweary retort was part of a laughing-off of the question, so I’m not sure that it does show the pressure getting to him, merely his annoyance at having his motivation and commitment doubted once again.

    Are you sure you weren’t reading too much in to it?

    Also, when are you going to return to the commentary box?

  19. Richard Mee says:

    Well, I think people all have their own opinions on Ed Gorman… Good writer, questionable journalist would be mine. Let himself down on the FIA saga by changing sides quite regularly if I remember right. How absurd to push that particular line of questioning with Button in any case. Even if he believes it himself, one race is insufficient evidence of a character flaw. Not surprised Jenson had a go at him.

  20. **Paul** says:

    “when he should have just laughed and risen above it shows that he is clearly feeling the pressure”

    Surely he’s in a no win situation here though? He laughs it off and people think the guy doesn’t care. He reacts to it and people assume he’s feeling the pressure.

    I’d rather see any F1 driver show some emotion, too many of them, like Hamilton for instance, are corporate puppets. It seems to be only the older and slightly wiser drivers who can give an honest answer about something without the need for a PR guy to tell them what to say.

    1. **Paul** says:

      PS love the photo in your banner today!

  21. JohnSpencer says:

    Instead of saying “What the f**k am I doing here?”, Jenson should have given a wink and a smile and said:

    “Ed, I understand why you might ask that, but let me answer by saying this: sure, the last few races haven’t given me a huge points tally, but that just shows how desperate I am for this championship” [cue serious expression]

    “I need to take points, not reckless risks” [tilt head slightly towards any other driver in the room who has fallen off the track this season]

    “I need to minimise our competitors’ haul when they’re faster.” [don't mention competing teams by name. It's an unwritten rule]

    “So, yes, that does mean I’ll back off if the alternative is being slammed into the pit wall” [cue another smile, don't mention Sebastian by name]”

    “But we’ve got some fantastic races coming up where we will be quick” [remember to always use the first person plural for team inclusiveness]

    “and we” [meaning me and the team, not Rubens]

    “will be able to open up the points gap again.”

    “Rubens did a fantastic job in Valencia” [make sure voice doesn't quaver here]

    “but I’ll do my best to make sure he finishes no higher than second on Sunday.”

    “Our main rivals will be fast here, for sure” [must have at least one 'for sure' in every answer]

    “but the guys back at Brackley have been working really hard round the clock 24/7 every day of the week to narrow the gap on aero circuits” [omit usual multiple references to team sponsors, because Brawn people never seem to mention Virgin]

    Well, there you go, send that off to Brawn’s chief media and communications spokesperson for filing under ‘What Jenson should say next time’.

    At least we now know why Brawn are so confident of being well-funded next year – the new car is being bankrolled by Jenson’s swear box.

    1. James Allen says:

      Or he could have said, “Nice on, Ed. Next question?”

    2. T Jones says:

      Nice one centurion, like it.

  22. HR says:

    Hmm…I think this says a lot more about Ed Gorman than it does about Jenson Button.

    No wonder drivers resort to one word answers.

  23. Charlie says:

    Well I have to agree with those criticising Ed Gorman, and I disagree with James’s defence of his approach. It’s typical shonky British journalism and it it’s a disgrace – why do we have to criticise our successful sportsmen? The journalists have to sell papers I suppose, but they seem to do it in other countries without resorting to underhand, weaselly, hypocritical questions like this.

    I wonder if anyone has ever asked Ed if he still has the drive to be an adequate journalist one day? How would he react then?

    1. James Allen says:

      I disagree, Charlie. It’s not my style to ask that kind of question, but it served a purpose. There is a difference between trying to draw someone out to reveal their state of mind and mindlessly slagging people off for the sake of selling papers. Let’s be honest, some mind-blowingly stupid questions get asked, but this one was more subtle than that. Like Jenson you have taken it at face value and thought the worst of the questioner. Some of the respondents here seem to have got it, however.

  24. Peter Freeman says:

    James, Button lives in England, surely he knows better than to talk to the English press?

  25. Kenny Carwash says:

    It’s hard to interpret Jenson’s comments on paper. Reading back through them, it’s easy to imagine the words being spoken in anger or in jest and Jenson is certainly fond of dropping in the odd swear from time to time, normally when he’s feeling frustrated. I’d need to hear the audio before drawing any conclusions.

    I don’t think Button is feeling the pressure per se, more that the absence of pressure in a real sense has put him out of sorts. His commanding start to the season meant that there was no real necessity to score well in the last four races. Logically, a performer should do all he or she can to claim victory as quickly as possible but, by and large, the human mind doesn’t quite work in that way. Jenson has been conservative recently because he could afford to be and that’s quite an unnatural position for a racing driver to be in.

    It’s still not crunch time for Button and Brawn and I think we’ll either see Brawn strong enough (or Red Bull struggle sufficiently) for Jenson to almost cruise to the title, or they’ll have another couple of iffy races and then the pressure really will be on. At that point, I’m expecting Button’s racing instincts to take over again and conservatism to go out the window as he starts putting in the kind of performances we saw in the first half of the year.

  26. aero says:

    Easy to understand why Button got irritated, I mean, what sort of question is that to ask a racing driver?

  27. Peter says:

    Why journalists have the rights to come up with all kind of stupid questions they want to and at the end of the they always the drivers are to be blamed?

  28. Phast says:

    every complains about monotone F1 drivers and then one tells a journalist to basically F*** off… fair play to him.

    Also if he had spanked it at the start at Valencia everyone would have been having a go saying he can’t race for a championship, and should have played it safe and picked up points.
    in his position he can’t win…

    but lets hope he can win the title.

  29. George says:

    The British press – making our sportsmen lose since 1896.

  30. bryan saull says:

    Another Gormless question, (pun intended!)
    Great reply from Jenson tho,I think fan mental willpower/energy keeps him scoring in every race..get it over with Jens just win a couple more, thats it.

  31. Malcom says:

    God help Lewis if his response was similar to that of Jenson, because his detractors in the public and the media would have went off the hook to attack him.

  32. Brian says:

    Jenson is trying his best to win the title, winning a single race is not that easy.

    The media likes to pressure drivers, they like to see drivers boil and melt at the same time, worse of to write on front pages about their anger response.

    There are good F1 journalist but there are some who are out there to destroy them.

    Ross would need to shield Jenson like McLaren are doing to Lewis but you cant prevent people from scribbling nonsense about you.

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