F1 2014 Driver Review: Jenson Button

3 Comments

Jenson Button

Team: McLaren-Mercedes
Car No.: 22
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 1
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 126
Laps Led: 1
Championship Position: 8th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

2014 has been a difficult year for Jenson Button both on and off track, with the 2009 world champion losing his father, John Button, in January to a heart attack. Jenson did consider quitting motorsport altogether, but opted to race on and lead McLaren’s charge into the new season.

After a difficult 2013, 2014 started in far better fashion with a podium finish in Australia following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification, but that would be as good as it got for McLaren. Once again, the MP4-29 car was sub-standard despite running with a Mercedes engine, leaving the team scrambling in the lower echelons of the top ten.

Button proved he was made of sterner stuff once again, and claimed seven top-five finishes across the course of the year, finishing with over double the score of teammate Kevin Magnussen. However, he is still not sure of his place with McLaren for 2015, with the team still trying to decide between its two current drivers as a teammate for Fernando Alonso.

If Abu Dhabi did prove to be his final race, thanks for the memories, JB. You’re a class act that has given a human face to a sport that is hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

This year had a different and slightly sad feel for Jenson Button, in that it felt as though things were conspiring against him to make things unnecessarily complicated or difficult. But nonetheless, Button remained all class ‘til the end, assuming it is the end of his F1 career as is likely.

Things started brutally at the beginning of the year with the loss of his father John, one of the paddock’s favorites. Jenson frequently wore a pink helmet throughout the year in tribute. On a happier note, he did announce an engagement to longtime girlfriend Jessica Michibata, so that was good to see.

On track he remained tenacious and dedicated as ever. Some seriously strong drives occurred at several points – Silverstone stood out to me – and his final run of five races included four top-five finishes in a car that was, at best, the third best chassis in the field by the end of the year. He beat rookie Kevin Magnussen in both qualifying and results, which showed he was still at the top of his game.  The only shame was that his promotion to a Melbourne podium finish didn’t get to feature a podium celebration, as it came after Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification.

McLaren has hung him – and Magnussen, for that matter – out to dry by delaying their driver announcement as long as they have. Overall, fans still want to see him with McLaren for one more year. But it may be in his best interest to leave with folks wanting more, rather than them being disappointed he held on too long.