Jenson Button - edge of darkness to shining champion
Less than 12 months ago, Jenson Button was staring at life on Formula One's scrapheap when Honda, bleeding millions of dollars they could not afford, pulled out of the world championship.india Updated: Oct 18, 2009 23:38 IST
Less than 12 months ago, Jenson Button was staring at life on Formula One's scrapheap when Honda, bleeding millions of dollars they could not afford, pulled out of the world championship.
But what a difference a year makes.
On Sunday, the 29-year-old claimed the world title to complete a remarkable turnaround in his personal and professional fortunes.
In his 10th season behind the wheel of a Formula One car, Button has finally delivered on the raw promise which originally catapulted him into the Williams team as a rookie in 2000.
It also confirmed that with the right car, he was a title contender, not a paddock playboy with his head easily turned.
Button has had to call on his deep reservoirs of talent and patience throughout his career, including this title-winning 2009 campaign.
In the new, quickly-financed Brawn GP car, with former Ferrari techincal wizard Ross Brawn at the helm, he stunnedd his rivals, and probably surprised himself by winning the season-opener in Australia.
In all, he collected six wins in the first seven races before the dream threatened to collapse.
But a second place at Monza and a fifth place in Singapore allowed him to go to Japan with a 15-point lead and three races left.
Although he only managed eighth at Suzuka it kept him on track and his 14-point cushion over team-mate Rubens Barrichello proved enough in Brazil where he finished fifth on Sunday to clinch the title.
Button has becomed accustomed to the sport's ups and downs.
It took him 113 races to win a first Grand Prix when he steered his Honda to victory in Hungary in 2006.
His father John, a former rally driver, watched proudly from the sidelines, revelling in the success which had finally come to his son.
John Button had passed on the motor-racing bug to his son in their sleepy south-west England town of Frome.
Legend had it that Button junior was named after the Jenson Interceptor car.
As an 11-year-old, Button won every race in the British Cadet Kart Championship before moving into Formula Ford as an 18-year-old.
Nine wins later, he won the prestigious McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award which brought with it a prize of a test drive in a Formula 1 car.
His big F1 break came in 1999 when he beat Brazilian Bruno Junqueira in a shoot-out for the prize of succeeding Alex Zanardi at Williams.
Button was eighth in his first season before switching to Benetton and Renault.
Three years at BAR followed by three at Honda with whom he struggled to 18th place in 2008, the worst performance of his career.
But that was just a memory here on Sunday.