McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button reaches a major milestone in his Formula One career this weekend. The Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit marks the 2009 world champions 300th Grand Prix start.
Button began his Formula One career with the Williams F1 Team in the year 2000 before moving to Benetton Renault in 2001.
The Benetton team was bought by Renault in 2002. In July 2002, Button signed a contract to race for the BAR Honda Formula One team alongside former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and ended his first season with the Brackley based outfit in ninth place in the championship.
Villeneuve was replaced during the 2003 season by former Jordan driver Takuma Sato with Button finishing the year ahead of both drivers in the championship.
The 2004 season was a breakthrough year for Button, in the second race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix where this weekend he celebrates his 300th Grand Prix he scored his first Formula One podium finish ending the race in third place and followed this result up with further podium’s back to back in Bahrain and San Marino with a third and second place respectively.
In Monaco, Button once again shown as he finished the race on the podium in second place and followed this result up with a third place at the European Grand Prix and a further third place at the next race, the Canadian Grand Prix.
In Germany, Button finished the race in second place while in Monza, China and Japan he also finished on the podium. Button ended the season as best of the rest in the championship in third place behind Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello on 85 points.
The 2005 season proved to be a challenging one for Button and BAR, the team were disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix and subsequently banned from the following two races in Spain and Monaco. The 2005 season was also the year that all of the Michelin shod teams of which BAR was one, pulled out of the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a result of safety concerns over their tyres.
Button scored just one podium finish in 2005 which came in Germany when he finished the race in third place.
In 2006, Button was joined at BAR by Rubens Barrichello. Button scored his first podium finish of the season at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second race of the year where he finished the race in third place.
Button also scored his very first Formula One victory in 2006 when he took victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
In 2007, BAR was taken over by Honda who came into Formula One as a full manufacturer however the transition from engine supplier to a full team did not go well for the Japanese company with the team finishing the season in eighth place in the championship with six points just one place ahead of their customer team Super Aguri. Jenson Button’s best result in 2007 was fifth place at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Things went from bad to worse for Button and Honda in 2008 with a sixth place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix his best result of the season, worse was to come for Button and the team, at the end of the season, Honda announced that due to the lack of results that they were pulling out of the sport and it looked like they would not going to be able to find a buyer for the team.
The announcement meant that Button and Barrichello and everyone working with the team in Brackley would not be in Formula One in 2009, however a last minute management buyout led by team principal Ross Brawn saw the team emerge from the ashes of Honda and although Honda pulled out of the sport part of the deal saw the company fund Brawn GP with Mercedes supplying engines to the team.
The 2009 season turned out to be Button’s year, he took victory in the opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix and this up with victory in the very next race in Malaysia. Button also won in Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Turkey.
Button won the championship by 11 points with Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel in second. At the end of the 2009 season, Mercedes confirmed that they had purchased Brawn GP with Ross Brawn staying on as team principal however, Button and Barrichello were replaced by Michael Schumacher who came out of retirement with Nico Rosberg joining the team from Williams.
Button joined McLaren as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate and in his second race with the team took victory at the Australian Grand Prix and followed this up with a win in China. Button finished the year in fourth place.
In 2011, Button took victory in the wet in Canada which is in the record books as the longest ever Formula One race. The 2009 world champion came from the back of the field twice to win the race and also took victory in Hungary and finished the season as runner up to Sebastian Vettel in the championship.
In 2012, Button took his third win in Australia in a row and also took victories in Belgium and Brazil and finished the season in fifth place in the championship.
In 2013, there was a change at McLaren as Sergio Perez was brought in from Sauber to replace Lewis Hamilton who left the Woking based outfit to join Nico Rosberg at Mercedes replacing Michael Schumacher. Button finished the season in ninth place with a best result coming at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the last race of the year where he finished the race in fourth place.
The 2014 season saw another change at the Woking based outfit with Kevin Magnussen being promoted replacing Sergio Perez as Button’s team mate. On January 29 2014, McLaren confirmed that they had appointed former Lotus F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier to the newly created position of Racing Director. It was also confirmed that the 2014 season would McLaren’s last season with Mercedes power with the team moving to Honda in 2015.
Button finished the season in eighth place with his best result coming at the Australian Grand Prix where he finished the race on the podium in third place.
In 2015, there was yet another change at the team with Fernando Alonso returning to the team to partner Button as the Woking based outfit wanted experienced drivers to help with the new Honda relationship. The campaign was a struggle for the two parties with Button’s best result coming at the United States Grand Prix where he finished the race in sixth place.
Button’s best result so far in 2016 is an eighth place finish which came at the Austrian Grand Prix. Earlier this month, Button confirmed that he will take a step back from racing in Formula One next season and has instead taken up an ambassador role with McLaren Honda and has been replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne but has the option to race in 2018.
Paddock Eye would like to say a massive CONGRATULATIONS to Jenson on making his 300th Formula One Grand Prix start this weekend.