Michael Bailey: A new-found F1 joy in Jenson Button
I have always considered Jenson Button's world championship win in 2009 as a bit jammy. In fact, come to think of it, I have never really been a Button fan at all.
In my mind, when the Brit joined McLaren two seasons ago the more experienced man was going to be outshone by Lewis Hamilton's bountiful talent.
As for that title triumph with Brawn GP, it all seemed to come down to good timing – despite Honda's winter upheaval – and a mix of Ross Brawn's design genius and eye for a technical loophole.
Brawn's car – or BGP001, if you like – had a double diffuser that left the rest of the F1 grid trailing.
A failed appeal against the component by their rivals meant they had to copy it – by which time Button and Brawn were too far ahead and the titles were eventually sewn up.
You may also want to watch:
That was how I and a few others saw it, anyway.
Before that, Button had been a bit of a playboy. A driver with talent but who failed to show it too often – not that he seemed to mind. He was too busy living life in the other fast lane.
- 1 Extent of Norwich Prison Covid outbreak revealed
- 2 Village care home confirms coronavirus outbreak
- 3 Tributes to 'Winkle' - the legendary landlord who broke the mould
- 4 'Sounded like my roof was coming off': RAF jet sonic boom heard over city
- 5 Mansion for sale for £2.5million with helicopter pad
- 6 Escape to the Country names 'north Norfolk's seaside capital'
- 7 Town clerk sacked following months of controversy
- 8 Flood alerts across Norfolk ahead of expected rain
- 9 Former village pub for sale as home
- 10 New drive-thru McDonald's to create 65 jobs
As for some of his lines on the team radio – they would beat Sebastian Vettel in the naff stakes all ends up.
But I'm struggling to reconcile that with the Button we are seeing race his overalls off in 2011.
For me, he is having his best year to date – including 2009.
The Frome driver has been on the end of some dubious team calls this season, and still cannot make qualifying sessions work in his favour – the two issues coming together with a spectacular Saturday failure at Spa.
Yet come Sundays, few have matched Button's performances.
His victory in Canada, having dropped to the back of the pack, was something special. And he was master of the changeable conditions again when the Hungaroring came along.
Then he managed to take his sixth podium of his season with some fantastic overtaking – and without the need of rain – in Belgium, to kick off season 2011 part II off in style.
Once again all in stark contrast to his team-mate, who seems to swerve from sublime to ridiculous in a matter of corners.
Even Jenson's Head & Shoulders advert makes me smile.
Clearly there has been a bit of growing up from the 31-year-old, now a veteran of more than 200 grands prix, but it is more than that. Button now oozes the character, charisma and talent that sees you willing him to succeed – and revel in the things he gets right in a race.
McLaren are yet to take up their option to keep Button in his seat for next season.
If I was them, I would get that agreed now – which is something I would not have said before this season.
• Obviously only a lucky few are allowed in the stewards' office during a race weekend, but I would love to know what was said in there after Saturday's qualifying incident between Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado's Williams.
Simply put, rookie Maldonado seemed to take exception to Hamilton gently bouncing off the side of his FW33 at the Bus Stop chicane, as the Brit tried to book his place up the order in Q2.
Clearly fogged by a bit of red mist, the Venezuelan then appeared to take matters into his own hands on the track, despite the chequered flag being out, and Maldonado swerved into Hamilton on the start-finish straight – leaving the former world champion with an MP4-26 patched up by gaffer tape for Q3.
Hamilton was given a reprimand for his part – whatever that was – while Maldonado had to take a five-place grid penalty on the chin. But the fact is the rookie should consider himself lucky to have been allowed to actually start the race.
Have a ruck in the pit lane, like Michael Schumacher did following his clash with David Coulthard at Spa in 1998. Or be more of an adult and chat it out.
But you don't smash into a bloke deliberately on the track. Rookie or not, Maldonado should've been sent packing for the weekend, end of discussion.
• Last week it was reported on the usually well-informed Joe Saward blog that Hingham's Team Lotus could drop the Norfolk marque and enter as Caterham Team Air Asia from next season – not this particular rumour's first airing.
It would of course pave the way for Hethel's Group Lotus to complete the desired transformation of the Renault F1 team to Lotus F1, as well as surely putting an end to the perpetual High Court feud.
It would also no doubt leave a lot of F1 fans unhappy at seeing the team they were backing as Lotus' return rebranded after an airline.
The reports, which apparently originated in Malaysia, suggested Team Lotus would phase out some branding from Spa but that did not happen, while Hingham has reiterated there is no need to change.
Time will tell whether there is smoke but no fire.