News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Much Ado About Jenson

In this story on PlanetF1, BAR is reportedly willing to offer a supply of Honda engines in exchange for retaining Jenson Button. Yes, you read it right. BAR is offering. Allegedly such a supply of Honda power is worth some 10 million pounds a year.

BAR are certainly fighting tooth and nail for the Englishman's services. They've offered him a five year 50 million pound deal. In the past BAR have offered Jenson a lifetime drive at BAR if he so chooses.

In related news, after repeated denials initially by Rubens Barrichello, he's now saying that staying at Ferrari for next is still not a complete certainty. BAR and Toyota now hold some appeal for the Brazilian. He also cites frustration about his treatment by Ferrari, citing "a lack of respect." Could it also be that Ferrari were really serious about recruiting Jenson Button?

Jenson is highly talented driver. He first entered Formula 1 in 2000 replacing the hapless Alex Zanardi at Williams, fresh from a two year stint in British Formula 3. Jenson in fact did not win that championship. Nevertheless, he so impressed then BMW Motorsport director Gerhard Berger, the Austrian fell all over himself to convince Frank Williams that the youngster would do the business.

He did indeed, distinguishing himself at that ultimate driver's circuit, Spa Francorchamps in the 2000 Belgian Grand Prix. After a year at Williams he was then sent to Benetton where he was completely outclassed by Giancarlo Fisichella. After Benetton became Renault, Button's career looked like being in the dumps with some less than stellar performance with the Enstone squad, eventually replaced by current championship leader Fernando Alonso. Then David Richards came a calling, Button went to BAR and the rest you know about.

Perhaps Button had to go through a learning period after his Williams debut. Perhaps it was David Richard's guidance and support that transformed him into a driver able to best a former world champion. Perhaps he is indeed now a polished gem poised to take the world title given the right team and car package.

But 10 million quid a year is a lotsa money. On top of that BAR want to supply engines to Williams worth another 10 million quid in exchange of Jenson. In all he's Mister 20 million. That's Michael Schumacher money. More in fact. The difference is Schumacher is an 84 time grand prix winner with 7 world titles under his belt. Jenson hasn't even won a race.

In addition, such is Schumacher's talent that in 1991 he came, he saw and he immediately put 3 time world champion Nelson Piquet into the shade. And at no time in his Formula 1 career can any teammate of his claimed to have eclipsed the German over an entire season. Talent like that I've only seen in 2 other people, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Of course, being a Senna fan, I rate him highest of all. I simply do not see that level of talent in Jenson Button.

I seriously question BAR's obsession with this Englishman. They're simply paying over the odds for this driver. An admittedly good driver. But not that good I believe. I simply have to agree with Eddie Irvine on this one.

1 comment:

Blake said...

I completely agree. Button is a decent driver, but he's not great. He's been in the sport 5 years and he hasn't even won a race.

Maybe he is capable of winning races in the right car but is certainly not world championship material. He will never win a world championship unless he's in a car that outclasses the field (ala 2004, and he still didn't even win a race). He is not worth the money BAR are offering.