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Jenson Button


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The man from Frome, England, was thrust into the limelight following the announcement he would become a Williams F1 driver at the age of just 19. It wasn't just F1 for Jenson, though. Button started karting full time in 1989, winning the British Super Prix that year, followed by the British Cadet Championship in 1990. In 1991 Button again won the British Cadet Championship, but this time managed to win every race. He also found the time to win the British Open Championship in the same year. A switch to British Junior TKM in 1992 saw Button, rather predictably, win yet another championship. Again, he squeezed in a championship win in the British Open Championship.

A quiet year in 1993 saw Button take just one championship, but it was his third successive win in the British Open Championship. People started taking notice of Button, with offers of drives around Europe in place for 1994. Taking part in the RAC British Junior Championship, where he finished fourth, Button also raced in the European Junior Intercontinental A championship, experiencing international competition for the first time, and winning a race in the process. A chance entry into the Italian Junior Intercontinental. Sticking in Italy for 1995, Button won the Senior ICA Championship, and also became the youngest ever runner-up in the Formula A World Championship held in France. In 1996, Jenson was 5th in the Euro Formula A championship, 3rd in the American Championship at Charlotte, and 3rd in the Suzuka-held World Cup.

With a works drive for 1997 sorted, Button warmed up with a 2nd place in the European Winter Super A Championship. A final win in the Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup at Suzuka finished off the year. Switching to cars in 1998, Button won the British Formula Ford championship and the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, and captured 2nd in the Euro Formula Ford championship. He was chosen as the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year and earned a test drive with F1 champions McLaren. In 1999, third in British Formula 3 and 2nd in the Macau Grand Prix netted Button the Avon Rookie of the Year award, which accompanied his year testing for Williams F1. At the end of the year Button took part in a shoot-out for a Grand Prix seat with Williams.

Button shot to fame in 2000 with a number of solid rives in the new BMW Williams, but he only managed a fourth place and Williams signed for CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya to replace Jenson in 2001. Renault took on Button for 2001, where he struggled to develop a poor car. Just one points finish on Germany (5th) lead to team boss Flavio Briatore warning Button publicly that his F1 career could be over. He bounced back with seven points finishes gave Button and a career best 7th place in the championship. Despite his efforts, Renault has decided to go with Fernando Alonso and Jenson moved on to BAR for 2003/4 with more experience and tenacity to face the 2003 season.

An upbeat Big has hailed the new Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda 005 as a watershed car for the team. Speaking at the official launch in Barcelona, the 22 year-old Englishman was full of praise for his new 2003 car. "We won't know exactly where we are until we've done a couple of weeks testing on the track but, believe me, it's going to be a big step forward," he enthused. "The differences between this year's and last year's cars are huge, so that's very positive. I think the new car looks just fantastic – it looks like a proper F1 car.

Obviously looks aren't everything as there have been some ugly F1 cars that were quick, but having seen the huge effort that's gone in, I have every confidence on scoring some podiums this season. Having signed a four-year contract with B.A.R, Button is predicting a bright future for his new team. "This car is clearly a big move in the right direction and everyone is very, very positive about our progress. However the next evolution in 2004 is going to be even more exciting and it's then that we'll be in a position to start challenging Ferrari." (Courtesy of B.A.R Media). Button put a steady performance throughout the 2003 season and had some major accidents to finish the season on a high note with 17 points in ninth place in the drivers' championship. His best results in the season was fourth in Austria and Japan. He is still looking for his first career podium finish or race win, maybe in 2004 Button will find that elusive podium place or race win with his secured contract at B.A.R. He will partner Takuma Sato in the 2004 campaign.

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