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Monday, 19 October 2009

The Worst Of The Best

So Jenson Button is World Champion. Congratulations. I’m one of many (a large majority I suspect) who felt that this day would never come so well done to Jenson.

But, though he is World Champion, my question is how good is he really?

Mark Hughes reckons Button is the bee’s knees and makes a convincing argument on the BBC F1 Website as to why Button has taken so long to reach this point and why we should acclaim him as a true great. I disagree.

Jenson has had several years in the sport now, but before this year had only won one race at a rain-affected Hungarian Grand Prix. Now you can argue, rightly, that this is due in part to the fact that he was never in one of the grid’s best cars but I counter that point with a simple fact – Button would have been in one of those cars if he was good enough. Remember, this is a man that about twelve months ago looked destined to be booted out of the sport. When Honda jumped ship, he was left without a drive. His commitment to Brawn and his decision to take a pay cut to stay in the sport are commendable, but let’s not fool ourselves and say that Jenson Button is the fastest driver in the world. In the same car, on a dry track, I would fancy Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and maybe Kubica to finish ahead of the Briton. He may be World Champion but in my book, Jenson Button is not world class.

Look at his title winning season. Button began the year in a Brawn GP car that was the class of the field. Yes, he took advantage of this, but in truth all he had to do was outrace team-mate Rubens Barrichello. After seven races, Button had 61 points. Since then, he’s won 28 points in nine races. Vettel has won 45, Barrichello 37, Webber 34, Hamilton 40 and Raikkonen has scored 38. Sure, Jenson has been consistent in that he’s scored points in all but one race, but he’s limped across the finishing line. In the second half of the year, he has been mediocre and outraced by all of this title rivals, even a man in the same car as him. He won this World Championship in the first seven races and though that is how the rules are configured, Button has had the worst finish to the season of any champion that I can remember.

Jenson Button has taken advantage of a great situation and for that he does deserve to be commended. However, once the hoopla dies down, I feel that in years to come we will look back on the 2009 Formula One World Championship as a poor one, and it’s champion will be a man who’s fluked his way to the top spot.


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