Jenson Button: 250 GP and the magic formula

Jenson Button is the most experienced driver on the current Formula One grid, and the fifth most experienced driver of all time. This weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix he will celebrate his 250 Grand Prix start. Over the years he has enjoyed a number of wins, podiums, and a championship – just some of the numbers that make up his career. But what contributes to his magic formula?

7 teams

2014 is Jenson Button’s 15th season in Formula One and over that time he has raced for seven teams. He started his F1 career with Williams in 2000 and since then has spent time with Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn GP, and currently races for McLaren. While the records show that he has raced for seven teams, some are linked. Benetton was rebranded as Renault between 2001 and 2002 and Button remained with the outfit. BAR was bought by Honda at the end of 2005 and Button drove for Honda Racing until the team’s withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2008. The team was then bought out by Ross Brawn and so Brawn GP was born. Button then moved to McLaren for the 2010 season and is currently taking part in his fifth season for the team.

10 team-mates

During his time at those seven teams, Button has had ten different team-mates. His team-mate in his rookie year was Ralf Schumacher. In 2001 when he moved to Benetton he was partnered by Giancarlo Fisichella, who was replaced by Jarno Trulli in 2002. Button’s 2003 team-mate was 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Takuma Sato partnered Button at BAR for 2004 and 2005, being replaced at one race for Button’s fellow Brit Anthony Davidson. Rubens Barrichello joined Honda in 2006, following his departure from Ferrari, and was Button’s team-mate for four seasons, including the world championship year in 2009. Button partnered Lewis Hamilton at McLaren for three seasons before lining up alongside Sergio Perez in 2013. Button currently races with Kevin Magnussen at McLaren.

5 times

This is the number of times Button has been beaten by his team-mate in the drivers championship. In his rookie year he was beaten by team-mate R Schumacher by 12 points. Button was also beaten by Fisichella in 2001 this time by a smaller margin of six points. From 2002 to 2007 inclusive Button had the upper hand over his team-mates, beating Trulli, Villeneuve, Sato, and Barrichello. His advantage over Trulli was five points, it was 11 over Villeneuve and 51 over Sato in 2004. In 2005 his advantage was 36 points over Sato, and in his first year up against Barrichello Button out-scored him by 26 points. Barrichello got the better result in 2008, by eight points, but Button was obviously ahead in 2009 when he won the world championship. Button’s advantage then was 18 points over his team-mate. Hamilton outscored Button by 26 points in their first year as team-mates, but Button had the upper hand in 2011 by 43 points. Hamilton scored two more points than Button in 2012 while Button had the advantage over Perez in 2013 by 24 points. So, during his 14 years in F1, Button has finished ahead of his team-mate nine times.

15 victories

Since that memorable first victory in 2006, Button has won a further 14 times, bringing his win tally to 15. He had to wait six seasons before his first win and his second followed after two seasons of disappointment. After Honda withdrew from F1, Brawn GP rose from the ashes and dominated the first half of the season. Button won six of the first seven races, missing out on the top step of the podium in China but still finishing in third. He won again in Australia in 2010 and won in China that same year. He won a dramatic 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where he dropped to the back of the field on more than one occasion and had contact with his team-mate. He fought up to second on the last lap and when Sebastian Vettel made an uncharacteristic mistake he took the advantage and won. He also won in Hungary again, and his adopted home race in Japan. In 2012 victories came in Australia, Belgium and Brazil. The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was his last victory to date. As well as 15 victories, Button has started on pole position eight times but only five of his wins came from pole.

8 races on current calendar not won

Button’s 15 victories have come at 12 different circuits. This means that he has won eleven of the races on the 2014 F1 calendar. He has not won in Austria (which makes its F1 return this year), his home race at Silverstone, in Germany, or Italy despite standing on the podium four times there. He is also yet to win in Singapore, Russia, Abu Dhabi and the USA.

50 podiums

Button’s 50th podium came at this year’s Australian Grand Prix although he didn’t actually stand on it as the result came after the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo. His 50 podiums include his 15 aforementioned victories. Button has stood on the podium at 18 different races – from Australia to Brazil and many other races in between. Not including his victories, he has been on the podium the most times at the Italian Grand Prix – a total of four. Other multiple podium appearances have come at the Malaysian, German, Chinese, and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (three times); and the Monaco, European, Canadian, Belgium, Brazilian, and Singapore Grand Prix (two times). He has been on the podium in Bahrain, San Marino, Japan, Turkey, Spain, India and Australia as well.

140 points finishes

Of the races that Button has finished, he has finished 140 times in the points (not including his two points finishes in 2014). This is from 199 finishes. Since 2000, Button has had an average of 5.6 DNFs per season.

6.8 average finishing position

Following on from Button’s 140 points finishes, his average finishing position is 6.8. This is taken from races he finished and not including the two in 2014.

 8th – average championship position

Over his 14 full seasons in F1 Button has finished an average eighth in the championship. His highest championship position was when he won it in 2009, his lowest was 18th in 2008 when Honda had a particularly dismal season. He finished third in 2004 and second in 2011.

1 world championship

Last but by no means least Button has won the world championship. This was in 2009 when he dominated the first half of the season, winning six of the first seven races. It was a long time coming for the British driver, but he eventually got there and made sure his name was in the history books.

So, there we have it. 7 teams + 10 team-mates + 5 times + 15 victories + 8 races on current calendar not won + 50 podiums + 140 points finishes + 6(.8) average finishing position + 8th average championship position + 1 world championship = 250 GP.

Button is regarded as a smooth driver who is particularly good in wet/dry conditions. He revealed on the McLaren website that the nicest thing someone ever said to him was something his late father John Button said: “You might not be the quickest driver in the world… but you’re the best.”

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