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F1 2016 Driver Review: Jenson Button

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Jenson Button

Team: McLaren
Car No.: 22
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 6th (Austria)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 21
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 15th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Despite having an option to race for McLaren in 2018, Jenson Button has most likely made his final start in Formula 1. 2016 was hardly a vintage year for the Briton, fading into the shadow of McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso and appearing somewhat disillusioned with life in F1.

There were a couple of occasions where Button impressed. Austria was perhaps his finest hour, qualifying a remarkable third and even running second for a while before eventually finishing the race sixth. Hockenheim was another high point, finishing eighth.

Otherwise, there was little to report in the way of good news. Button scored just five extra points from 2015 to 2016 despite McLaren’s significant progress, with his amusing radio calls instead being the most memorable part of the campaign.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Button’s roller coaster F1 career had one more downslope in 2016, and in some respects, it was painful to see his last two full seasons coincide with McLaren Honda’s struggles on track. Button has a soulful relationship with both brands – he’s long considered Japan his second home, and McLaren provided his career the continued shot of glory after his Brawn GP title win in 2009. Yet the last two years for Button have mirrored the 2007-2008 struggles in the Honda factory team, not the six years in-between from 2009 through 2014.

While Button’s 2016 season was better than last year, that’s not saying much at all. Fernando Alonso’s points totals increased from 11 to 54, while Button’s only went from 16 to 21. Other than Austria, the Button of old was nowhere to be found.

If he had a proper car at his disposal it could be great to see him ride off into the sunset that way. Alas, his great personality and humor brought to the paddock will be missed. Forever a World Champion, Button signs off after more than 300 races.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).