I know that right now seems a tad convenient to speak highly of Mr. Button and his accomplishments in a Formula One car, but coming off the drive he had in Canada is the perfect time to reflect on the benefits of Button fandom. In many ways, his Canadian GP victory represents 10-years worth of lessons learned and an evolution to a talent that McLaren couldn’t be happier to obtain. Similarly, my interest in Jenson as a driver evolved over the years as I learned and witnessed the different attributes that create successful and likeable drivers for the fans.
So let’s start with what I think is his best talent and most likeable feature. Jenson Button knows that Lewis Hamilton is a faster driver. He doesn’t deny it or take it personally. On the contrary he seems quite proud to share a garage with someone he regards as the fastest driver in the sport. Instead of self-pity and anger, he uses this fact as motivation to improve and searches for other ways to win races and championships, vehicle set-up, tire strategy, race strategy among them. And I think that’s freaking cool! Name one other driver in the paddock that knows he’s slower yet manages to avoid the dreaded “number-two driver” moniker? At a minimum, there certainly isn’t another driver out there that manages the situation with such class, composure and success.
Admirable talent number two: Jenson is quite fast in his own right, yet he drives so smoothly that you don’t notice. Very seldom does the car unexpectedly yaw, the in-car camera rarely shows any opposite lock dialed into the steering, and the trackside camera never zooms in on a car drifting an inch from the preferred racing line. This gentle touch, feed-it-in approach reminds me of Dario Franchitti. You wouldn’t know by looking, but the car is maxed out. Why add this to the Button fan tally? Because it results in fewer DNF’s, fewer accidents, cleaner passes (albeit less often) and more points. In other words the driver you root for on the track stays on the track more often. That’s value you can take home with you!
Terrific talent number three: Jenson Button is happy. Wait, wait don’t surf on to the next blog, hear me out. Happy drivers are more fun to cheer on, they require you defending their antics (both on and off track) less often and usually celebrate success with more vigor. The two best “Happy Jenson” moments that come to mind are his championship clinching race in Brazil 2009 and the Canadian GP this past week. In both occasions Jenson leaves no doubt that he is happy to the bone. I mean is it healthy for his eyes to nearly pop out of his helmet visor while screaming for joy? I didn’t think so either, but Happy Jenson can’t help it.
So there you have it, conclusive evidence that Jenson Fandom is both good and good for you. Now, before anyone cracks their knuckles in preparation to write some scathing rebuttal involving the words “crush”, “bro-mance”, or “restraining-order” bear in mind that I am well aware of Mr. Buttons faults, but now isn’t the time for that.