• Interview

Button admits he almost blew his career

ESPNF1 Staff
April 29, 2010 « Ferrari accused of pushing subliminal tobacco message | »
Jenson Button drove for Benetton back in 2001. His mind was as much on the glamour as the job in hand © Sutton Images
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Jenson Button has admitted to the Mirror that his own laziness almost scuppered his Formula One career.

"Everyone has tough times in their career and I've had my fair share," Button said. "For me it was 2001 and a lot of it was my own fault and the fault of the people I had around me."

At the end of that year - his second in the sport - he was lambasted by then team boss Flavio Briatore after underperforming on the track and leading a playboy life off it. The nadir came at Monaco when Button moored his new £2 million yacht in front of the paddock and filled it with bikini-clad girls.

"He was young, had too many distractions and no focus for the job along with too many managers," Briatore said. "You have to have patience for this job and, instead of spending more time with his engineers at the circuit, he wanted to rush away to get his picture into a lifestyle magazine. But Jenson realised that was not the way to go. The media told him he was perfect and he believed it."

I can't imagine anyone works harder than me but fair play to them if they do
Button responded by firing his management team and knuckling down to the job in hand.

"When I came into F1 there were so many areas I didn't know about," Button admitted to the newspaper. "I was just very excited about racing against my heroes. I didn't come in with my eyes wide open. I had blinkers on. You learn very quickly in this sport. It's not really the place to learn but I did it. I had to. That's when I realised there was more to it than just driving the car.

"I thought I could just drive around those problems and didn't have to work on them. Now I know you need to spend a lot of time with your engineers. You need to change the car to make it your own, you need to spend time on your fitness.

"It was my mistake. You learn from it, I am the complete opposite now. I do everything I need to - plus a bit more I would say. I can't imagine anyone works harder than me but fair play to them if they do."