• Top ten ... Jenson Button drives

Button's best drives

Nate Saunders
December 12, 2014
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2000 German Grand Prix (4th)

Jenson Button's debut season was impressive enough for Williams technical director Patrick Head to say the Brit was a "star of the future". His crowning drive from 2000 came at the old Hockenheim circuit, a thrilling race punctuated by rain and a disgruntled Mercedes employee running across the track. Starting from the back after stalling ahead of the formation lap, Button's prospect of points (in the days when only the top six received them) looked bleak. Button set about undoing the damage early on and, after two separate safety car periods, had worked his way back to tenth with ten laps remaining. As with so many of the great drives later in his career, a rain storm quickly changed proceedings. Williams reacted quickly and called Button in immediately for wet tyres. It was the correct decision and, after emerging from the pits sixth, Button quickly dispatched Pedro de la Rosa and then Mika Salo to move to the cusp of a podium finish. He would cross the line just 1.4s behind third-placed David Coulthard.

2004 San Marino Grand Prix (2nd)

Button's 2004 was something of a coming of age as he finally built on the promise he had shown in 2000 but had failed to replicate in the following seasons at Benetton and Renault. Driving for British American Racing (BAR), he finally ended his wait for a podium in Malaysia and, riding the crest of a wave at Imola, became the first person other than Michael Schumacher to claim pole in 2004. It was the first of Button's career and some 1.2s faster than team-mate Takuma Sato in seventh. Button got away cleanly and led the pack through the first sequence of corners. After building a gap, Button's lead started to be whittled away by Schumacher behind as the pair lapped nearly a second faster than the rest of the field. Schumacher had been fuelled longer than Button and the two extra laps he stayed out allowed him to jump the Englishman for the lead. It was as close as Button would get to the Ferrari but he turned in a solid performance behind to finish second, the best result of his career to that point.

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2006 Hungarian Grand Prix (1st)

Much like some of the victories which would follow later in his career, his first was done in a thrilling race in changeable weather conditions. Button started 14th following an engine change and immediately it became clear the Michelin tyres had a rare advantage in the rain. Button emerged from his first pit stop wheel to wheel with Michael Schumacher and he made the move stick out of Turn 1 for second position. On lap 26 a collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Vitantonio Liuzzi brought out the safety car. Button decided to stay out and climbed to second. Alonso scampered away at the restart but Button soon started reeling him in. Both men pitted but it was Alonso's which proved decisive - with his Renault lasting two corners before a right rear wheel nut came loose and forced him out of the race. That gave Button a huge lead out in front he never relinquished as he finally ended his Sunday jinx to claim his maiden win at the 113th attempt.

2009 Monaco Grand Prix (1st)

Button arrived in Monaco with five victories from the first six races of the year for Brawn. Having taken his fourth pole of 2009, he led into the first corner. Victory was sealed in the opening stint as he managed his deteriorating tyres better than Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello, and led by 16 seconds before the first pit stop. As he had been so often at the start of 2009, Button was absolutely flawless and led throughout. Button's memorable radio call "Monaco, baby, yeah!" followed as he crossed the line, as did the only mistake of his afternoon - parking his car in the wrong place and having to run down the pit straight to the podium. After the race team boss Ross Brawn would say: "I'm lost for words about him because he's exceeding everything I thought possible. Stunning."

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2009 Brazilian Grand Prix (5th)

Button came to Interlagos knowing he could win the championship if he finished within four points of Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel failed to finish first or second. His dominant start to the season, where he won six of the first seven races, had turned into an exercise in damage limitation with just one podium in the subsequent nine races. Button could only qualify 14th while Barrichello took pole position, with Vettel 16th. Button got a clean getaway on a chaotic first lap which brought out a safety car. In the subsequent laps Button had risen to ninth and at the restart sized up Romain Grosjean, who he dispatched superbly down the inside of Turn 4 to move into the points. That aggression was a sign of things to come. The following lap Button dived down the inside of Kazuki Nakajima, a move he would repeat on Kamui Kobayashi at the second attempt a few laps later. After the pit stops Button was back at it, diving down the inside of Sebastian Buemi at the same spot to move up to sixth. Out in front Barrichello was going backwards and a late puncture took him out of contention. A jubilant Button crossed the line as champion and belted out a rendition of Queen's "We are the champions" for good measure.

2010 Australian Grand Prix (1st)

Some had predicted a tough time for Button at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton, but he proved the doubters wrong in just his second race. At the first corner Button tapped Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher but avoided major damage, dropping him from fourth to seventh. Incidents continued on the first lap and a safety car was deployed. At the restart on lap six Button raised a few eyebrows when he pitted for slicks, a brave call on a track which was still slippery. But it was an inspired decision as the track quickly dried out, with the ensuing scramble into the pits promoting Button to second. The race continued to fall into place for Button as Vettel spun into the gravel on lap 26. While there was action all around him behind, Button was in his element out in front and would eventually cross the line 12 seconds ahead of Robert Kubica.

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2010 Chinese Grand Prix (1st)

Just two races later Button would again demonstrate the sixth sense he seems to have in changing weather conditions. There was light rain at the start of the race and Button held firm off the line, keeping Hamilton behind him as the McLaren pair diced for fifth. A first-lap crash involving multiple cars deployed a safety car and, much like he had in Australia, Button decided to gamble again. In anticipation of the rain intensifying the majority of the field came in for slick tyres, but this time Button stayed out and at the restart was second behind Nico Rosberg. The rain did not intensify and those on intermediates came in again for slick tyres. Button worked on building a lead as the rain came and went, but another safety car wiped it out. He managed the restart perfectly and then had to look after his tyres as Hamilton put him under late pressure.

2011 Canadian Grand Prix (1st)

If just one of Button's victories stands the test of time it will be this epic from Montreal. When the safety car which the race had started under returned to the pits, Button jumped ahead of Hamilton around the first corner after his team-mate made contact with Mark Webber. He kept Hamilton behind for one lap before a mistake at the final chicane put him slightly out of shape. As Hamilton pulled alongside Button, unable to see his team-mate in the spray, he squeezed the other McLaren into the wall and out of the race. Button screamed "What was he doing!?" on the radio and he pitted, taking on intermediate tyres. The earlier collision had prompted another safety car and when the race restarted Button was lapping quicker than anyone else - albeit after serving a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Other drivers followed Button's example but then the rain returned, heavier than ever, prompting the return of the safety car and then red flags on lap 25.

The stoppage lasted two hours and five minutes and, after starting under the safety car, the race resumed on lap 34. Button then triggered another safety car after he clashed with Alonso as the pair squeezed through Turn 3. Alonso was out of the race, but Button had a puncture and by the time he had crawled back to the pits he was last place again. After the restart he soon rose from 21st to 14th before Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld's accident triggered the safety car for the final time. When it returned there were 10 laps remaining and Button had risen to fourth in the scramble for dry tyres. He soon dispatched Webber before storming past Michael Schumacher in the DRS zone and set about hunting down Vettel in front. It looked like Vettel would stay out of reach, but on the final lap the German got out of shape at Turn 6 to allow Button into a lead he would not relinquish. It was a thrilling end to an absorbing race; one McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh would say was one of the greatest victories in F1 history. After the race Button said: "I really don't know what to say, it's been a very emotional race. The incident with Lewis - I couldn't see anything and I've apologised to him. It was really a fight from then on but I kept on pushing and I managed to get past Seb at the end. Another great win for me and possibly my best." Given the astonishing drama he went through it is hard to disagree.

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2011 Hungarian Grand Prix (1st)

Once again, Button would master intermittent weather at the Hungaroring. Starting third on a wet track Button diced with team-mate Lewis Hamilton early on but could not find a way past on the first lap. Button remained third for his first stint before pitting early for slick tyres as the track started to dry. The pit stop brought him closer to Vettel than he had been before and he soon muscled past the German into Turn 2. Button remained second until his next pit stop, where he took on soft tyres - the opposite to team-mate Hamilton, who had chosen to switch to super softs for the final phase of the race. The two diced for the lead again and, with the track still wet in places, Hamilton spun at the chicane. Button was in the lead. The weather then changed again but he cannily resisted the temptation to switch to intermediate tyres and was vindicated when the brief rain storm subsided. Hamilton and others had not been so wise and Button's decision meant he could ease home to his second win of the season.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix (1st)

Button qualified second but an aggressive move from Vettel on the run down to Turn 1 forced him onto the grass and had him seething, though the stewards took no further action. Button lost second to Hamilton but soon got by when his team-mate suffered a right rear puncture and pitted. Button kept Vettel in check and then started eating away after the first round of stops. He then emerged ahead after his second stop, only to see his new advantage wiped out by a safety car period. Button shot clear at the restart and built a two-second lead before Vettel pitted for medium tyres and lost time on his out-lap in traffic. Button pitted himself and retained his lead but Alonso had been propelled into contention and closed to within 1.2s of the McLaren with two laps left, only for the unflappable Button to respond with a fastest lap to win the race. Ultimately, the victory was overshadowed by Vettel claiming his second title with third position but it was a superb drive from Button regardless.

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2012 Australian Grand Prix (1st)

Unlike some of his more dramatic victories, this was utter dominance similar to his 2009 Monte Carlo win. Hamilton had led a McLaren lock-out in qualifying and Button got the better start, beating his team-mate into the first corner. It proved to be the most significant moment in the battle for victory as Button pulled away. His lead was wiped out at mid-distance by a safety car but such was Button's comfort that he quickly re-established it to kick off his 2012 season in fine style, finishing the race with the fastest lap to cap an utterly dominant drive.

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