Going into the winter of 2008, the contrast of emotions felt by Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were poles apart. Hamilton was on a high after securing his first world title in dramatic fashion on the final corner of the final race in Brazil. Button on the other hand had endured his toughest season to date, worse was to follow as his Honda team had decided to pull the plug on their F1 programme in the face of the impending world financial crisis.
After his world drivers title in 2009 with the Brawn team, many expected the unlikely dream team to continue under the Mercedes banner. Instead, Jenson surprised many by joining Hamilton in ‘his team’, McLaren. Although the media hailed this as the British dream team, many couldn’t see Button living with the raw pace of Hamilton. Button was keen to test himself against the best and for that you had to give him credit and he got off to a flying start in 2010, picking up two wins in the first three races. Come the end of the year, it was Hamilton who was leading the McLaren charge for the title. This seemed to cement the views that Button had made the wrong move joining McLaren and that in dry conditions, he couldn’t keep pace with his team mate.
So what has been the change this year? Is it because it’s his second season with the team or perhaps his driving style suits the Pirelli rubber better? For me, there has been a significant moment for Jenson this year, that moment came at Canada where he scored an improbable win, charging through from last to overtake Vettel on the last lap. Since then, we have seen a different Jenson Button, his confidence has gone through the roof. Not only has he provided the most spectacular entertainment with his overtaking prowess, he is also silencing the critics who say he needs changeable conditions to beat Hamilton. The facts speak for themselves, since Hamilton’s last win at the Nurburgring, Jenson has been on the podium every race, whereas Hamilton hasn’t made it once.
If you could buy shares in racing drivers right now, Buttons stock right now would fetch a premium price. Something that is reflected in the admiration he is getting from other team bosses. Red Bull principle, Christian Horner told the BBC that Button and Vettel were in a class of their own in Singapore and there are strong rumours linking the Frome Flyer with a move to arch rivals, Ferrari.