x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jenson Button the man for all reasons

Jenson Button's latest win proves not only that he is the master of changing conditions but that he also has an ability to always be on the right tyre and not panic if a strategy does not work straight away.

In his 200th race, Jenson Button proved few can match his abilities in changing conditions.
In his 200th race, Jenson Button proved few can match his abilities in changing conditions.

Jenson Button's win in Hungary was the fourth time in the past two seasons he has come out on top in a race with changeable conditions.

If it was just once or twice you might say it was luck. But he is repeatedly standing on top of the podium after the weather becomes decidedly mixed - and that means it is more than just good fortune.

Button was excellent in Budapest and fully deserved his victory. He is the example that you can have success late in your F1 career.

What impressed me about his drive in Hungary was his ability to be always on the right tyres, and the way he did not panic or make a rash move when the rain came back on and he was on the hard-dry tyres.

He might not always be the quickest on raw pace and his qualifying form is very inconsistent, but his ability to use his brain while racing has got him a lot of wins that he probably should not have been in a position to win.

He has this ability to stay calm in the heat of the battle and he made no mistakes. It was a great way for him to celebrate 200 races in Formula One.

It has taken Button a long time to get himself to the top, but now that he is there he is making a good impression both on and off the track.

Button came into F1 in 2000, which was my last season in the sport, but I had heard plenty about him before then.

I had met him in 1989 at a karting event in Dorset, when he was aged about nine, and Button's father, John, always likes to bring that up whenever I see him.

He had done well in Formula Ford and Formula 3, and it was inevitable that he would eventually make it to F1.

I was impressed with him in 2000 in his rookie year and thought he would do well, but he suffered the problem many drivers have of not having a good car in which to show his skills.

There were flashes of brilliance in the Williams he raced during his debut season, but that car was not capable of winning, nor were the Benetton, Renault, BAR and Honda cars he also raced.

He was also perceived by some in the paddock as enjoying the social side of F1 a little too much.

But that has now changed and he is now seen arguably as the gentleman of the paddock who is well liked by his team, rivals and fans.

He carries himself very well and I am glad as he is genuinely one of the sport's good guys.

Since 2009, when he got a quick car in the Brawn, he made full use of it by winning the title and has not looked back.

And I think that just as impressive as winning the title is the way he has held his own against Lewis Hamilton in their year-and-a-half together at McLaren-Mercedes. Hamilton is a sensationally quick driver, yet there have been occasions, including Sunday, when Button has been able to take it to Hamilton and come out on top.

I thought this was a more impressive all-round display from Button than the one that got him his other win this season in Canada.

He was always up there throughout the race in Hungary, both in wet and dry conditions, overtook people when he had to, looked after his tyres much better than Hamilton. F1 is not always about being quick, and Button used all his skills to triumph again.

He beat Sebastian Vettel, the defending world champion and current championship leader, fair and square, with the German unable to close him down late in the race.

I doubt that the Red Bull Racing man was too perturbed by his loss as he is now a massive 85 points clear in the championship, and it is really beginning to look like it is a case of when, and not if, he will seal his second world title.

Red Bull have been beaten in the last three races and do not have their speed advantage anymore, but Vettel's lead is so vast that just finishing in the top four or five regularly should be enough to see him home.

Johnny Herbert is a former F1 driver with three career victories. His column is written with the assistance of staff writer Graham Caygill.

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