For The Oracle’s final Hall of Fame installment, I want to let one of my favorite Formula 1 (F1) drivers of all time take the wheel: Jenson Button. He had the No. 22 adorned on his car during the 2009 F1 season, later selecting it to be his permanent number when drivers were allowed to choose them in 2014.
The affable Brit began his F1 career in 2000 driving for Williams, scoring a respectable 12 points. He spent the next two seasons at Benetton (which was bought out and renamed to Renault in 2002), being stuck at the back of the pack, before being given a seat at British American Racing (BAR) in 2003. Button’s career began a steady rise from there, as he finished second or third in multiple races. Still, a win evaded him.
It was when BAR was bought out and renamed to Honda in 2006 that Button finally ended his long winless streak at that year’s Hungarian Grand Prix after starting the race from 14th place, winning with a combination of talent, adverse weather and good fortune.
When Honda left F1 after the 2008 season due to that year’s global financial crisis, Brawn GP hastily formed from the Japanese team’s ashes. Unexpectedly, Button rode Brawn’s ingenious white and dazzling neon green BGP001 car to glory, winning the 2009 Driver’s Championship thanks to a scorching hot start to the season, winning six of the first seven races.
He left for McLaren the following year, winning a few more races (including his dramatic comeback victory in the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix) before the team slipped into its dark ages in the mid-2010s. He retired at the end of his team’s less-than-stellar 2016 season.
“JB” briefly came out of retirement in a one-off appearance for McLaren at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, replacing former teammate Fernando Alonso, who went to compete in America’s famed Indy 500 race. However, Button crashed midway through, leaving a slight blemish on his exceptional driving record.
Button finished his career with a Driver’s Championship, 15 wins, 50 podium finishes and 1,235 points over 306 races. He remains a fan favorite for his kind nature, optimistic attitude, cheeky sense of humor and beaming smile.
Thank you to everyone who supported this series that was my cozy little corner in the paper. I enjoyed writing my profiles, and I hope you readers enjoyed checking them out.