Four years ago today, one of the greatest fairytales in the history of Formula One was completed as Jenson Button became world champion at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Briton may now be one of the best drivers in the sport, but his career had largely been a case of “close but not close enough” until 2009. Having finished third in the championship with BAR in 2004, Button claimed his maiden grand prix victory in 2006 when the team became Honda. However, the team’s formed nosedived in 2007 and 2008, prompting the Japanese manufacturer to withdraw ahead of the 2009 season.
The team was rescued by Ross Brawn and subsequently rebranded Brawn GP for the 2009 season. With a raft of regulation changes, the car had been in development for two years and was immediately a success. Button won six of the opening seven races to enjoy a healthy lead in the championship, but a downturn in fortunes meant that he was soon under pressure from teammate Rubens Barrichello and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (who had just four career victories to his name at this point).
However, come the Brazilian Grand Prix, Button had the chance to become the second successive British world champion following Lewis Hamilton’s success in 2008. Despite qualifying down in fourteenth, the Brawn driver managed to fight his way through the field to finish fifth and clinch the title.
Upon crossing the line, Button broke into a rather muffled rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” as he capped off a memorable season.
In 2010, Brawn became Mercedes’ works team that still competes to this day, whilst Button secured a move to McLaren with whom he has won eight races and came second in the 2011 drivers’ championship.