Formula 1

Jenson Button remains a valuable asset in F1

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As Fernando Alonso looks set to return to McLaren for 2015, the future of F1's most experienced current driver, Jenson Button, hangs in the balance.

Button is coming to the end of his 15th season in Formula 1, having arrived as a fresh-faced 20-year-old at Williams back in 2000, and if general consensus is to be believed he will be the one to make way for the Spaniard.

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Recent rumours have linked Button to the WEC, joining Australian Mark Webber at Porsche after he decided he had had enough with F1 and moved to sports cars from Red Bull at the start of this year.

But what are Jenson's options if he wants to remain a part of the pinnacle of open wheel racing, and what does he have to offer?


The most obvious thing he can offer is experience. With 265 Grands Prix under his belt any midfield team looking to have an older driver alongside a young upcoming prospect would probably be interested.

Of course the best example of that would be Toro Rosso who are welcoming in 17-year-old Max Verstappen into their team for next year.

Button's experience of stepping up at a young age and subsequent knowledge of how Formula 1 works would be invaluable to Verstappen, however, given Red Bull's policy of only hiring their own stable drivers the chances of the idea coming to fruition are close to zero.


With experience comes knowledge and nobody knows how to deal with the highs and lows of F1 quite like Button.

For the first six years of his career he went from young hot rod to mass underachiever as the potential he showed in his rookie year faded with a series of bad cars and generally having to watch on as Michael Schumacher went on his dominant five-year winning streak and Fernando Alonso then took over as the man to beat.

Button finally realised his dream of winning a race as he was the last man standing in a crazy Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006 but at the time his Honda car was showing signs of hope scoring podiums and generally annoying the leading Ferrari's, Renault's and McLaren's.

From the high, however, came the low again as Honda went from regular points scorer to near backmarkers and at the end of 2008 it looks as if Button's career maybe over as the Japanese car maker pulled out.


If there is any reason why a sportsman should be considered to remain in their sport it is because they were crowned champion.

And for Jenson Button it is no different, after finally being given a race-winning car, as Brawn took over the 2009 project from Honda, the Briton would show the world what he can do winning six of the first seven races en route to his own dominant championship beating former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello and producing a stunning drive to claim the title at Interlagos.

For any team having a world champion in your car has benefits as they know what it takes to succeed at the very highest level under the biggest of pressure.

Raw speed

Ultimately, however, a team should make their decision based on who has the speed and skill to get the most out of the car they create.

This is something Button doesn't need to prove but because we all know what type of driver he is.

A smooth yet very quick racer and also someone who excels in wet conditions. He even beat Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2011 and doing that, particularly in only his second year at a place Hamilton had been a part of since he was a teen was incredibly impressive.

The one thing that does put a slight question mark over Button, however, is his ability to drive a car that doesn't always suit his style.

These past two years with McLaren, a period where the Woking team has endured quite a slump, have seen Button often be beaten by younger team-mates, Sergio Perez was the quicker man at the end of 2013 and Kevin Magnussen is pushing him hard again this year.


All this talk is all well and good but is there a team who would actually consider him? The Toro Rosso idea I flouted has its obvious issue and when you're Jenson Button former world champion hiring you doesn't come cheap.

Sauber maybe an option with neither driver secure for next year. Giedo van der Garde seems to be hinting at a seat and he does offer a lot of backing but given the financial restraints the Swiss team are currently in would Button take the likely pay cut if he was offered?

The same can be said of Lotus who have the backing from Pastor Maldonado but another good young talent in Romain Grosjean, and while the Mercedes experience Button has might be appealing to the Enstone team again it all comes down to the money. 

With all of this talk of Alonso taking a sabbatical, why couldn't Button, the new Haas F1 team coming in 2016 would likely need an experienced man to get them started and despite the link the American team has with Ferrari, Jenson could be the perfect man.

The final option is one many feel could come later in Button's career; taking a non-driving role within a team.

Having Button as part of a board or in a non-Executive role would suit him as would perhaps managing young racing drivers and there has been talk of that kind of position - possibly within McLaren - looking ahead to the future.


Whatever the future holds for Jenson Button not just for 2015 but also beyond his attributes and achievements will always make him worthy of a place on the grid, but as with any racing driver looking to stay or make it into F1 the hurdles remain many and the opportunities few.

With all he has achieved many WEC would offer a fresh challenge for Button but the day he is lost from Formula 1 will be a sad one indeed.

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