Jenson Button vs. Sebastian Vettel: That's How They're Racing Now
Before the top three from today's Japanese Grand Prix took to the podium, BBC coverage showed Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso taking a well-earned breather in a drivers' room.
To stir things up a bit, Button quizzed newly crowned double World Champion Vettel on what the start was all about.
The incident in question saw a faster starting Button, starting from second, edged onto the grass as pole-sitter Vettel squeezed him into lifting off the throttle and a subsequent opportunity to lead the race. His forced loss of momentum allowed Lewis Hamilton to snatch second as they headed into turn one.
Vettel responded by describing it as just racing, before Button added further tension by snapping back, "So that's how we're racing now."
The incident went under investigation with stewards, headed in this Grand Prix by former driver Alan Jones. However they deemed that no further action should be taken. Button was initially frustrated.
In a sport that has seen various competitors go to extreme lengths to hold an advantage, it appeared that maybe the English driver could not handle the pressure.
This is a driver who, in my opinion, always left himself down by blaming the car more often than taking a deeper look at himself.
Yet he still went and won the Grand Prix. He passed his teammate Lewis Hamilton and then took Vettel in the pits before controlling the rest of the race and earning the consequent victory.
If we are fair in our judgement, before Button's unexpected triumph at Brawn, no one anticipated the star that he has now become. Even as he dominated in a car that vastly excelled against all others, the fact that he had to scrap for his only title win after thrusting ahead early meant that we saw Button as a champion sadly born more out of luck than talent.
His move to Mclaren was deemed risky as he was joining highly credited teammate and recent champion Lewis Hamilton. Would it not just be a step backwards if he were to disappear in much the same vein that Massa has with Alonso as his teammate.
To the surprise of many, including me, he was a lot closer to Hamilton in their first season than most predicted.
And this season, alongside gaining a record of the driver with the most overtakes, Button appears to have claimed the number one spot within the team.
Who would have thought it?
Jenson Button was always a driver who seemed too much of a Mr. Nice Guy to succeed; he didn't have the killer edge to snatch wins and cause any necessary controversy.
So maybe this Grand Prix, the way it started and the way Button finished, it can give us optimism for what is to come.
As a driver he has matured immensely with Mclaren. At a point it became evident that he needed changeable conditions to win a race. Yet as time progressed, the threat he posed in normal conditions increased.
He now has credibility for his title win at Brawn. Now he will not become the forgotten champion that many were worried he would represent.
Today he showed raw pace and a determination to succeed. In general, this season he has emerged in leaps and bounds to portray a well-rounded, consistent and, more importantly, a regularly quick competitor.
Whilst his frustrations and occasional lapses in grit can sometimes get the better of him, he is learning and acquiring the ability to take the fight to his rivals.
Looking to next season, Button now appears to have instated himself as a definite title contender. Lewis Hamilton is losing touch, as are Mark Webber at Red Bull and a forever declining Felipe Massa at Ferrari.
Button and Alonso may now represent the fiercest and most probable challenge to a third successive Vettel triumph.
Should next year's Ferrari be a step ahead of the competition—at least close enough to Red Bull and Mclaren—Alonso could return to the dominance of his own double triumph.
This time may be short-lived if the likes of Paul Di Resta, Sergio Perez or Kamui Kobayashi gain more commanding race seats and build upon their improving reputations.
Yet for what remains of Button's career, he will seek to combat Vettel and fight fire with fire in light of today's opening. Vettel may therefore fit a suitable and much needed role in Button's career by bringing out the beast within.
The impressive talents of the German driver will encourage the best to emerge.
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