When Jenson Button clambered out of his cockpit at the last race of the 2009 Formula One season, he hollered: “I’m World Champion, baby!”
It was quite a turbulent season as he dominated the start and then slipped down the order, struggling to keep a hold on the championship title, finally clinching it.
Did he ever think he was going to be World Champion one day?
To this, he said: “As a kid, when people ask you ‘Are you gonna be world champion?’ you’re gonna say yes of course I’m gonna be world champion in F1. But do you actually mean it? I don’t think so. For me I was living in the moment and as a kid you do that very well. Just enjoy the moment! Racing in cars is such a dream.”
Button was speaking at a Johnnie Walker closed-door event at Conrad hotel, as part of the brand’s Step into the Circuit campaign where the public gets the chance to ‘get into the shoes’ of the drivers and experience their lives. He wasn’t late and was right on time, but he’s staying at that hotel so less excuse to be late I guess!
The room was done up very neatly like a mini Jenson Button museum, charting his racing career since his karting days. Let me take you through it:
Button was totally relaxed and it was hard not to be fond of this British lad… I couldn’t help being drawn to his charisma! Maybe it’s an English thing… Lewis Hamilton has this charm about him too. Or maybe it’s just the McLaren boys…
Watch a video of Button and Hamilton and their thoughts on the Singapore night race:
Anyway, here are some of the things Button shared at this session:
Q: What do you think of this season?
Jenson: The championship is pretty much gone for everyone apart from Sebastian (Vettel), so we are just going for race wins. To stop him, we need all of us to finish in front of him at every race from now. Sebastian can’t score anymore points this year; if he does, he pretty much wins the title. It’s very difficult at the moment but we just go into every race as it comes, not worry about the points in the championship and just focus on getting the race win. We’re going to be aggressive and come away from the race with a win.
It’s difficult when you’re so far behind the championship and there’s only a tiny chance of winning the championship. It’s difficult to look back on the season so far and think “Ah it was good”, but it’s been alright. We had a couple of reliability issues which leaves me a little bit frustrated but in terms of my performance I’ve been very happy.
Q: You turn 32 in January. Do you feel old?
Jenson: Yeah, I’m 31 now.. getting old! I can’t see myself racing when I’m 42 like (Michael) Schumacher, but that’s also 11 years from now!
Q: How do you celebrate after a win?
Jenson: Celebrating after a successful race means spending time with close friends that come to the race, my girlfriend, my old man, my mum. We go out for dinner and then have a few drinks. I don’t normally go to Formula 1 parties after races; it’s not something I normally choose to go to. I just want to get away from Formula 1 when I’ve finished driving. It’s always a very full-on weekend and it’s very busy so you want to get away from it as soon as possible.
Q: What would you say to aspiring drivers?
Jenson: First I would say good luck! Try to get your father or mother to support you because it’s a very competitive sport. To succeed but in Formula 1 you do need the support and the sponsors to get into Formula 1 and then survive in Formula 1. It’s very difficult and it’s not just about your fitness or the way u drive. It’s about the way you carry yourself on the circuit, how you work with sponsors, and there are many things to the sport that people don’t realise.
He stayed on to sign some autographs and then he was off to his next engagement – a public appearance at ION Orchard for Hugo Boss.
I must say the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is an all-star team, with both drivers being former World Champions. Both are British and both have very hot girlfriends. How good can life get?
Who wouldn’t want to be in their shoes man?