Jenson Button: Former F1 world champion, NASCAR racer and Sky F1 pundit
Jenson Button: Former F1 world champion, NASCAR racer and Sky F1 pundit
Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is widely regarded as one of the finest British F1 drivers of the modern era, and cemented his place in the history books by winning the 2009 world championship in the first and only season of Brawn GP's existence.
Born on January 19 1980 in Frome, Somerset, Button was flagged as a future great when he was young, and made his debut as a 20-year-old back in 2000.
Success was not instant and Button is, in many respects, the ultimate example to anyone that success cannot be won overnight and hard work is essential.
He raced for a multitude of teams before he and Brawn became a match made in heaven, and after a dominant start to the season Button was crowned the 2009 world champion.
The popular six-footer - one of the taller drivers to ever win a world title - continued to enjoy success with McLaren after agreeing to leave Brawn at the end of the 2009 season and was also a runner-up to Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
Button's last race came as a one-off in 2017 when driving in the Monaco Grand Prix, and since then he has raced in other forms of motor sport including NASCAR and the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well turning his attention to punditry with Sky Sports F1.
Button was signed by Williams to partner Ralf Schumacher for the 2000 season and showed plenty of promise, finishing eighth in the table with 12 points. However, Juan Pablo Montoya's availability meant the Brit was 'loaned' out to Benetton.
2001 was a disaster as he drove a very uncompetitive car and, while 2002 under the newly-branded Renault team marked an improvement, he was on the lookout for a new team again in 2003, which he found in BAR.
By this point there were accusations that Button was an underachiever, though he began to achieve more success at BAR, grabbing his first of 10 podiums in 2004 en route to a third-place finish behind the dominant Ferrari duo of Michael Schumacher and Ruben Barrichello.
In 2006, at the 113th time of asking, Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix with Honda (the successor to BAR) in wet conditions, proving his worth as a master of the rain after coming from 14th on the grid.
2007 and 2008 were barren years for Button with Honda struggling for pace, and he was left without a drive at the end of 2008 after Honda pulled out from the sport.
A rescue package, headed by former Honda team principal Ross Brawn meant Button was salvaged in 2009 and the Brawn GP car was, by far and away, the quickest on the grid – displaying no teething troubles with the large vast regulation changes.
Button won six of the first seven races in 2009 and although they were reeled in by the rest of the field towards the end of the season, the Brit clinched his fairytale title in the penultimate race in Brazil. At 169 races, he was second only behind fellow Briton Nigel Mansell (176) in terms of the most experienced first-time champ.
Despite all his success, he moved to McLaren in 2010, forming an all-British partnership with Lewis Hamilton in one of the most exciting eras in the sport. He played second fiddle to the 2008 champ in 2010, but still won two races as he ended the season fifth.
2011 saw Button as the best of the rest behind Sebastian Vettel, though he did memorably win the Canadian Grand Prix that year - the longest race in F1 history and labelled by fans as the most thrilling.
As the years went on, McLaren's pace waned and Button's final win in F1 came in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, four years prior to hanging up his helmet.
Net worth and business interests
Button's net worth is difficult to calculate but it is estimated the Somerset racer is worth between $150-170million following a career full of lucrative switches and sponsorship deals.
He earned a cool $16million per year while at McLaren and also has several business and charity interests.
He has helped launch a car with Radford, who usually specialise in luxury coaches, while he is also a team owner in the off-road series Extreme E.
Button is part of Johnnie Walker's Join The Pact initiative to promote responsible drinking, while he also does work with a number of charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Prince's Trust. He also has his own charity called The Jenson Button Trust, which nominates a number of charitable beneficiaries that receive funding.
He launched his own whisky called Coachbuilt in 2022, and ran a restaurant called Victus in Harrogate between 2011 and 2012. He also founded The Sports Partnership which provides public relations services and management to the sporting industry.
Wife and family
Button's current wife is the American model Brittny Ward, who he married in 2022. She was born May 22 1990 and is 33 years old. They have two children, three year old son Hendrix Jonathan Button and two-year-old daughter Lenny Monrow Button.
Button was previously married to Japanese model Jessica Michibata before they split in 2015. Earlier in his career, he was engaged to singer and former Fame Academy contestant Louise Griffiths before they split in 2005.
Button also had a very close relationship with his late father John. Known fondly as "Papa Smurf", John accompanied his son to every race apart from the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix due to illness. He was a former rallycross driver and helped Jenson greatly in his career right from the beginning.
He died in January 2014 at his home in the south of France at the age of 70.
Button the TV pundit with Sky Sports F1
Since the 2018 British Grand Prix, Button has served as a pundit for Sky Sports F1 in selected races and has also worked as a co-commentator to David Croft when Martin Brundle is not present.
Button's smooth driving style has transferred well to punditry, and tends to look at home with a microphone in his hands, leading some to believe he could be the long-term successor to Brundle.
New frontiers in NASCAR and Le Mans
Button's passion for motor racing extends beyond F1 and he has had a go at other categories since leaving F1.
In 2023 alone, he has signed a three-race deal to drive in the NASCAR series and finished the Texas Grand Prix 18th at the Circuit of the Americas, despite suffering from heat exhaustion.
Afterwards, he said: "Finished 18th after almost stopping because I had heat exhaustion. It was so hot. I don't have a fan in my seat, which really didn't help me too much.
"I stopped twice for a minute. They put ice on me, gave me loads of water, and I went back out. I was so close to getting out of the car because I thought I was going to faint. I must have drank eight (or) nine bottles of water during the race.
He also took part in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with American Jimmie Johnson and German Mike Rockenfeller. They finished 39th.
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