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.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.