Jenson Button will take a sabbatical from Formula One next year in a career which has so far yielded 17 seasons, 15 wins, 50 podiums, nearly 300 race starts and one memorable World Championship.
Here we look at five of Button’s best Formula One moments.
Plucked from obscurity…
Button was an unfamiliar name when Sir Frank Williams handed him a one-test shoot-out against Formula 3000 racer Bruno Junqueira for a seat in his team. Button, 20 at the time of the Barcelona trial, was given the nod after going faster than his rival and was promptly snapped up for the ensuing campaign. He partnered Ralf Schumacher and scored 12 points to finish a credible eighth in the championship. His best result was a fourth-placed finish at the German Grand Prix.
His first podium…
It may have been a long time coming, but Button stepped on to the rostrum for the inaugural time in his 51st attempt at the Malaysian Grand Prix. It kick-started a brilliant campaign for the Briton, now team leader at BAR, as he went on to secure nine further top-three finishes. He ended the season third in the championship behind the all-conquering Ferrari pair of Michael Schumacher, who sealed his fifth straight title, and Rubens Barrichello. But Button’s virtuoso displays that season saw him earn a new-found respect after two lacklustre years with Benetton.
Victory at last…
In his 113th start, Button clinched a memorable win at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Englishman, now racing for Honda after they were bought out by BAR, started from only 14th after he was handed a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change. But he benefited from a number of retirements while mastering the inclement conditions to win by almost half-a-minute.
Button looked to be heading out of Formula One in 2008 after Honda, disillusioned with F1, pulled the plug on their operation. But at the 11th hour, Ross Brawn completed a deal to take over the team and with it hand Button a championship-winning car. Making the most of a highly controversial double diffuser, Button won six of the opening seven races and claimed the title with one race to spare after he finished fifth in Brazil to complete the fairytale story.
Recently voted in one poll as the Race of the Century, Button turned in a spine-tingling display to win a dramatic race which lasted four hours. In the torrid conditions, Button was plum last after he made five pit-stops, served one drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane, and was involved in two collisions with McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton and then Fernando Alonso. But the Englishman stormed through the field in the inclement weather and past Sebastian Vettel on the final lap after he forced the German into a rare error. Unsurprisingly Button later described it as the best victory of his career.
Press Association Sport