Yesterday’s headlines in certain F1 media claimed Jenson Button had slammed F1’s new crop of drivers behaviour as being representative of ‘Formula Desperate’.
For example, Brazil’s UOL Esporte wrote: “I feel that there are many drivers who should have learned more than they did learn before arriving in F1”.
“They are very erratic. It’s like they are driving in ‘Formula Desperate’ – they look like they’re always so desperate.
“That sort of behaviour should have stopped by the time a driver arrives in F1. By the time your career reaches this level, you should already be smart enough to know what to do with the car and how to race for position.”
Today, Jenson Button has angrily denied describing F1 as ‘Formula Desperate’ in a series of tweets.
”’Formula Desperate’ this is supposedly a quote from me about young drivers in F1 but its total rubbish, I never said that,” Button insists.
“I personally feel the young talent in F1 have done an incredible job at such a young age. Some journalists do not deserve to be journalists if they take so many comments out of context or even change the words around to suit there article..”
Jenson’s indignation is clear, though his PR should be checking his spelling and grammar as clearly ‘there article’ should have indeed been ‘their article’.
Formula One fans of more than a few years may find this whole storm in a tea cup ironic given the headlines Jenson drove when he entered Formula One back in the year 2000. He of all ‘should know better’ what it’s like to have over hyped media attention being heaped on young shoulders.
On debut in Australia Jenson crashed his Williams car in practice and qualified second last in the race, making a number of mistakes during the season which drew criticism from more experienced F1 personnel.
Button’s biggest faux pas was at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Under the safety Button appeared to fail to observe the pack bunching up and had to swerve late ramming his Williams car into the barrier.
The following season, Button was replaced by Williams with Juan Pablo Montoya and shipped off to Benetton and the rule of Flavio Briatore. Following a poor second season in F1, the Italian team boss threatened Button stating “Either he shows he’s super-good or he leaves the top echelon of drivers.”
Benetton was renamed Renault F1 for 2002 and Jenson was retained, though Briatore carried out his threat at the end of the year replacing the young Brit with Fernando Alonso. “Time will tell if I am wrong,” the flamboyant Italian responded when criticised for his decision and Briatore accused Jenson of being a “lazy playboy”.
Like Max Verstappen, on his entrance to Formula One Jenson Button was hyped to the rafters. He was Britain’s youngest ever debutant in the sport and described by the respected ex-Ferrari driver, Gerhard Berger, as a “phenomenon”. Jenson’s karting team boss, Paul Lemmens, compared him to Ayrton Senna and the legendary William’s technical director Patrick Head observed of Button that he was “definitely a star of the future”.
And for many Button delivered in his first F1 season. He qualified third at Spa and finished fourth in Germany ending the year with 12 points and P8 in the drivers’ championship. Team mate Ralf Schumacher was fifth with 24 points.
So our brief trip down memory lane would suggest that regardless of Button’s intentions when he used the phrase ‘Formula Desperate’, he of all the current senior F1 drivers understands best the pitfalls and travails facing the likes of young F1 drivers like Max Verstappen, Joylon Palmer, Wehrlain, Nasr, Sainz et al.