Jenson Button: Formula One's surreal champion
Nine years ago, Jenson Button was pegged as a future Formula One world champion. On Sunday, few could believe it finally happened.
Button clinched the F1 driver's title with a fifth-place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix. For the most part, it was another ho-hum result to what has been a bipolar season for the Englishman -- six wins in the first seven races followed by a single podium finish in his last nine starts.
It's been an unprecedented and bizarre path to the title. And Button's championship fits perfectly in to what's been an almost unbelievable season.
Formula One always has its surprising moments, but this season has been chock-full of abnormalities: ugly, aerodynamically-challenged car designs (that didn't aid overtaking), the failure of KERS, the early-evening finishes, liegate, Bernie's Malaysian motorboat show, the teams saying they'll quit (not too weird), Max Mosley saying he'll quit, BMW saying it will quit, Felipe Massa's freak accident, Michael Schumacher's failed comeback, crashgate and Kimi Raikkonen's Brazilian fireball act are some that come to mind.
So it makes perfect sense that a team that didn't even look like it would compete in Formula One less than two months before the start of the season would win the constructor's title and power Button to the championship.
Button is simply a surreal champion for the most surreal of F1 seasons.
You could say it's merely a byproduct of one of the most unpredictable seasons in Formula One history -- a result of luck, constant tinkering with technical rules and a little Ross Brawn ingenuity. Or you could be one of those remaining Button loyalists (are there any since Lewis Hamilton came on the scene?) who believe it's a legitimate, hard-earned title.
The whole debate surrounding the legitimacy of Button's title won't go away anytime soon. Unless he miraculously repeats next season, he will always have his doubters. But there will probably never be an F1 season as unusual as the one we've seen this year.
Is Button the kind of driver capable of dominating opponents in any given race (he had a great race in Brazil, moving from 14th to fifth) or is he the kind of driver who complains when he thinks a rookie driver is blocking him unfairly (like he did this weekend with Kamui Kobayashi)?
-- Austin Knoblauch
Top photo: Jenson Button celebrates after winning the Formula One driver's title on Sunday. Credit: Mauricio Lima / AFP/Getty Images. Bottom photo: Button competes in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Credit: Orlando Kissner / AFP/Getty Images