|Born||19 January 1980|
Frome, Somerset, England, UK
|Formula One World Championship Statistics|
|Team||Brawn GP F1 Team|
Following the withdrawal of Honda from the sport in December 2008, he was left without a drive for the 2009 season, until Ross Brawn led a management buyout of the team in February 2009, and Button suddenly found himself in a highly competitive, Mercedes-engined car. He went on to win a record-equalling six of the first seven races of the 2009 season, securing the World Drivers' Championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix, having led on points all season; his success also helped Brawn GP to secure the World Constructors' Championship.
On 5 March 2009, it was announced that the former Honda team would race in 2009 as Brawn GP, following a late buy-out by Ross Brawn, the previous team principal of Honda Racing. Button and Rubens Barrichello were confirmed as the team's drivers for 2009, with Button reported to have taken a 50% pay cut as part of the deal.
In the first half of the year the Brawn team benefited from an innovative diffuser design, which gave the teams using it an advantage over teams that did not. The Williams and Toyota teams also using the design however, did not benefit to anywhere near the same degree, leading many to doubt that the diffuser was in fact the main ingredient to Brawn and Button's success. Once the major teams introduced their own reconfigured diffusers Button's dominance ended, with Button winning 6 of the first 7 races, but averaging only 6th in the following ten races.
Brawn GP impressed from the first grand prix: Button took pole position in Australia, his first for the team and fourth ever, with Barrichello qualifying in second. Button then led from start to finish to win the race ahead of his team-mate—the first time a team had scored a 1–2 finish on their debut since 1954—with Button describing it as "a fairytale ending for the first race". One week later he repeated the accomplishment, taking pole position and winning a rain-curtailed Malaysian Grand Prix; due to the rain the race was red flagged and only half points were awarded. At the Chinese Grand Prix, Button finished third behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, but returned to winning ways the following week in Bahrain despite only qualifying fourth.
The fifth race of the season was at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The return to Europe allowed most of the teams to update their cars, including modifications to Button's car, the Brawn BGP 001, which had not yet been altered since the season began. Button took pole position with the final lap of the qualifying session, describing the updates as "good step forward". Both Button and Barrichello initially planned to stop three times during the race; however, after he fell behind Barrichello at the first corner, Button was switched to a two-stop strategy, and this meant he ended up finishing comfortably ahead. An unhappy Barrichello felt immediately after the race that the team might have sacrificed him to help Button, saying: "If I get the slightest sniff that they are favouring Jenson I'll hang up my helmet tomorrow".
At the Monaco Grand Prix, Button scored his fourth pole position of the season with his final lap of qualifying, commenting afterwards, "It was my best lap of the weekend and definitely one of the best laps I've ever done." Button then managed his tyres much better than his teammate in the early stages of the race, building a lead which he did not relinquish, and making it a hat-trick of victories. David Tremayne described it as "as good a performance as anything we had seen there from the likes of Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher", adding that it "swept away final doubts about his ability after years of floundering in mediocre machinery". In Turkey, Button qualified second behind Vettel but a first-lap error from the German allowed him to take the lead and he held off the competition to take his fourth consecutive win. This meant he had won six out of season's first seven races; an achievement matched only by Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Michael Schumacher, who all went on to win the world title.
The British Grand Prix in June marked the end of Button's superiority over the field, and was the first in a string of poor results for him. He achieved only sixth place, followed by a fifth place in Germany, as Red Bull's cars dominated both races. Brawn GP were hopeful of a strong result in the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the car had been significantly updated and was usually at its best in hot conditions. However, Button struggled with tyre temperatures and achieved a season-worst seventh place; during the race, he asked frustratedly over team radio, "How can this car be so bad at the moment?"
His bad run continued in Valencia; he was out-qualified by his teammate, and then, held up behind Webber for a lot of the race, could finish only in seventh place. Barrichello pushed on to win the race, and close the gap on Button to 18 points. Martin Brundle felt that Button was struggling with the pressure of leading the world championship, writing: "He has tightened up in the car and his natural instincts behind the wheel are being restricted." The following race at Spa-Francorchamps, Button had his first retirement of the season after a collision with Romain Grosjean during the first lap. This meant Button had scored only 11 points from his previous five races, and with five races left his lead was down to 16 points over Barrichello, and 19 and 20.5 over Vettel and Webber respectively.
Button recovered at Monza: he qualified sixth, before finishing second behind his teammate. The following race in Singapore, Button qualified poorly in 12th but performed much better on race day to take fifth place; Barrichello could manage only sixth. With three races and 30 points remaining, this put Button 15 points ahead of his teammate and 25 ahead of Vettel, with Webber now unable to win. A week later at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Brawn GP cars struggled again, Barrichello and Button finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Button was hampered in qualifying by a poor choice of tyres in the wet weather and could achieve only fourteenth position. His championship campaign was boosted by Vettel qualifying sixteenth, but team-mate and closest rival Barrichello qualified on pole. In the race, Button was aided by a first-lap incident, and was up to seventh by lap seven. He ran as high as second place by halfway, but ultimately finished fifth, taking enough points to secure the 2009 championship with one round to spare. At the final race of the season, in Abu Dhabi, Button qualified behind Barrichello again, but was able to achieve a podium by coming third.
With 169 starts, Button made the second-highest number of race starts before becoming World Champion. Only Nigel Mansell (with 176 starts, at the 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix) had competed in more races than Button before winning the World Championship. Button wrote a book about his 2009 season, entitled "My Championship Year", which was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 19 November 2009.
On 30 November 2009, Button was announced as one of the ten men and women shortlisted for the 2009 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. At the awards ceremony on 13 December 2009, Button was awarded second place. On 6 December, Button won the BBC West Country's Sports Personality of the Year at the University of Bath. He won the main award against racehorse trainer Paul Nicholls, cricketer Marcus Trescothick and golfer Chris Wood. He also won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award.
Button was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours for his services to motorsport. Button's home town, Frome, has named a street, Jenson Avenue, after him, and has awarded him the Freedom of the town. The town also intends to name a new bridge over the River Frome 'The Jenson Button Bridge'.
Complete Season results Edit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|2009||Brawn GP F1 Team||Brawn BGP 001||Mercedes FO 108W 2.4 V8|| AUS|
‡ Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed.