Saturday, 4 February 2012

Jenson Button: Was 2011 his best ever year?

He may not have won the championship last season, but Jenson Button may have driven better than ever. In the fourth of my nine part series on the top drivers, here's my analysis.

A brilliant season in 2011 saw Jenson Button finishing 2nd in the championship, with many analysts and fans saying that he had his best ever season, even better than his amazing 2009 Championship Winning year. Was this the case? Well, its certainly a fair argument.

Button drove brilliantly in 2011, winning three marvellous races on his way to being the runner up in the Championship, and usually being the main threat to runaway winner Sebastian Vettel. And he seemed to improve massively upon his 2010 season, with a very calm driving style, and a whole new level of performance. His Canadian victory, where he worked his way up from 23rd, survived two collisions, a drive-thru' penalty and a puncture, to win on the very last lap was one of the greatest drives I've ever seen, with Button occupying every position from 23rd to 1st in an unbelievable drive.

Canada wasn't the only thing about Button's brilliant year. There were his great wins in Hungary and Japan, both of which required excellent tyre management, and in particular in Japan, where he put in a blisteringly fast in lap to take the lead at the pit stops, before holding off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso at the end. Button's three wins were really impressive, but lets not forget the rest of his impressive performances. He was in fine form in Monaco, while his performance in Italy was excellent - putting a daring move on Michael Schumacher, which he described as one of his "best ever." His drives in Singapore and Abu Dhabi were also very good, and of course his performance in Belgium, where he worked his way up from 13th to finish 3rd and on the podium, after passing Alonso late on. Button's overtaking significantly improved in 2011 as well, with three of his overtakes featuring in my overtakes of the year nominations - on Webber in Canada, on Massa in Britain, and on Rosberg in Europe. As well as this, he became the first team mate of Lewis Hamilton's to finish ahead of him in the championship, a big achievement.

The only season that may have been better than 2011 is the obvious one: 2009. His championship winning year, Button was in incredible form in the first part of the season, winning six out of the first seven races, including wins in Monaco and Australia - both of which surely rank up there with Button's best drives. But lets not also forget Bahrain and Spain, he had to do a lot to win those races. And of course, who can forget his performance in Brazil? After a disastorous qualifying while his main championship rival and team mate took pole, Button was in bother. But his overtaking was brilliant, with moves on Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel proving why he was world champion that year. And the whole 2009 season required a lot of skill and bravery, as well as a serious amount of grit and determination, considering he was being chased down rapidly in the second half of the year by Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber as well as the McLarens and Ferraris becoming a threat to him in the races. I remain hugely impressed by how he won that championship, it took so much team spirit and fighting spirit from Button and Brawn to win it. So, 2011 and 2009 were certainly Button's best two seasons, but which was better?

I'm going to stick my neck out and say 2011. Simply because he has just so recently come to the team which is effectively "owned" by Lewis Hamilton, and in just his second season with him, well and truly beaten him, which is something Fernando Alonso couldn't even do. (Alonso and Hamilton scored level points in 2007) So after a brilliant year last year, Jenson Button couldn't be better placed to mount a serious title charge, surely as McLaren's number one driver after last year.

So yes, 2011 was Jenson Button's best ever year.

Over the next few weeks I will be looking at the six world champions on the grid, as well as three other drivers in top teams, in articles like this, as we prepare for the start of the season

No comments:

Post a Comment