F1 2014 Driver Review: Jenson Button


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.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.