Jenson Button has made himself hoarse with shouting and celebrating his world championship victory, giving endless interviews.
He claims that today’s race was the best of his career to date,
” This was my best race I’ve driven in my life, I know because of the emotion that’s involved in it, but also because I knew what I had to do – I did it, and that is why I am sat up here as world champion, ” he said. ” I am going to enjoy this moment very much. The people around me have been so supportive. I might have come across like I don’t care about this in the past, but that was just me keeping a face. It shows a weakness if you show it is hurting or stressful, but I can say it now, it was very a tough few months and I needed the people around me, especially the team to fight for this.
Button admitted that he has made life difficult for himself in recent races, not least because of his uncertain qualifying form.
“Qualifying has been something I couldn’t get my head around for the last few races, ” he said. “I don’t know what it is, but it is something that we need to look at for the next race. I don’t want to be beaten in the next race as the world champion. Maybe it is the stress of it all, maybe it’s just that we haven’t got it together. I think it’s probably the latter.”
Certainly at the same time and in the same car, Rubens Barrichello was getting it together and putting Button’s championship lead under threat.
Ross Brawn made a reference to Button making hard work of it recently and it’s interesting to hear Button admit that maybe the stress and pressure got to him a little bit. He was definitely edgy before the podium result in Monza, which steaded the nerves a bit, but he kept getting himself into trouble in qualifying, which gave him too much to do in the races. He relied on the bad luck of his rivals through that time and after qualifying it looked like he might be in trouble again. But there is always a strong chance of either rain or a safety car in Brazil to give you a chance to make things happen and today he got a safety car.
He must feel a huge sense of relief above anything else that he has not thrown it away. Today’s race winner Mark Webber summed out the rivals’ perspective on Button’s state of mind recently, “I think he will sleep better now, because he’s been incredibly nervous, there’s no question about that, ” he said. “He’s been absolutely bricking himself the last few weeks, so he can sleep better now.”
Another strong result today for Webber’s team mate Sebastian Vettel moved him into second place in the championship and he can look back at the opportunities he had to win the title. Of the races he has finished this year Vettel has had a higher points average than Button. The crashes and reliability issues are what cost him the title.
Button admitted that there were points in his career when he thought he might not ever be champion, not least when it dawned on him in his second season in F1 with the Benetton team that he wasn’t mature enough to handle Formula 1.
Ironically, given what has happened this year with Nelson Piquet, Button was struggling at the Renault team in 2002 and was dropped by Flavio Briatore, his team boss. David Richards hired him for BAR, allegedly against the advice of Bernie Ecclestone and that started a relationship, which had many ups and down but has culminated in today’s success. His string of podiums in 2004 and the win in 2006 cemented his belief that he had what it takes to win in F1, he just needed the team to give him the car to do it in. He got that car this year,
“I suppose my second year in F1 was the toughest personally,” he said, reflecting on his low point of lack of belief. “After my first year it wasn’t enjoyable. It was enjoyable at Williams and got great results, but I really didn’t work hard enough. Basically I was too inexperienced and too young to be racing. The second and third years of my career were very difficult, especially my second. That is when I knew it wasn’t just speed, you can’t win races with just that. You need to work on many different areas and F1 becomes your life. That was the most difficult season.”