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Luminaries gather to honour Button

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Sarah Holt | 09:53 UK time, Sunday, 31 July 2011

At the Hungaroring

Once the intense competition of qualifying was over in Hungary, the Formula 1 fraternity put aside their rivalries for an unusual social occasion.

Luminaries from the top to the bottom of the paddock had crammed into McLaren's buzzing motorhome on Saturday evening to celebrate Jenson Button's 200th Grand Prix.

It was a fascinating scene for the F1 voyeur. Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali stood chatting to Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug with a friendly arm around his shoulder. Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli perched on a stool under the towering presence of Silver Arrows team boss Ross Brawn as Sauber's Sergio Perez mingled with the Virgin Racing drivers.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso nearly stole the show when the former McLaren arch-rivals warmly embraced each other, suggesting the particularly bitter cold war between the 2007 team-mates was well and truly thawing.

But the evening had been arranged by McLaren to mark Button's career and each of the 31-year-old's previous team bosses - with the exception of exiled Renault boss Flavio Briatore and BAR-Honda chief Dave Richards - spoke enthusiastically about the Somerset-born racer.

Button's F1 career began in 2000 when he beat Brazilian Bruno Junqueira in a shoot-out for a Williams race seat.

Sir Frank Williams had a unique take on the then 20-year-old, recalling: "In those days he was devastatingly good-looking and was always being pursued.

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Pedro de la Rosa, Jenson Button, Timo Glock, Jerome d'Ambrosio, Paul di Resta (hidden), Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa at Jenson Button's 200th grand prix celebration

F1 drivers celebrate Jenson Button's 200th grand prix with the McLaren driver. Photo: McLaren

"He is a top, top guy. I really think that. He knew exactly how to get to the top and was completely unstoppable."

After two seasons with the Benetton team, which was re-branded Renault, Button lost his drive to Alonso and joined BAR, which then morphed into Honda.

The Japanese team helped the Englishman win his first race at the 113th attempt in 2006 in the only wet race - so far - to be held at the Hungaroring.

Shortly afterwards Brawn joined Honda, and under the former Ferrari technical guru Button went on to claim the world title in 2009 with the renamed Brawn Grand Prix team.

Brawn toasted his former charge, saying: "Jenson has got some essential qualities; speed, honesty, integrity and professionalism. Eventually he put all those things together in 2009.

"The greatest compliment I can pay him is I'm really sad he's not driving for us still."

Luckily, Michael Schumacher - who just happened to win a record seven world titles with Brawn - and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg weren't around to weigh the implications of that remark.

It was left to Martin Whitmarsh, Button's chief at McLaren for the last two seasons, to fill in the gaps in the Englishman's career.

"Grand prix wins 10, pole positions seven, podiums 35, fastest laps four, number of points 650..." Whitmarsh began before Button tried to boost his statistics saying: "Why can't you make some of this up?"

Whitmarsh continued: "What [the list] doesn't say is; a great world champion and a fantastic ambassador to F1 - and the son of a smurf." The latter - and lesser-known fact - was a humorous reference to Dad John Button's nickname 'Papa Smurf'.

Finally, Button took centre stage, surveyed the room of F1 faces, friends, media and McLaren staff before choosing his words carefully.

"Wow! 200," he had begun. "Somebody actually asked me the other day what does 200 mean to you and first of all I thought they were talking about the number of PR days I've done this year.

"For a racing driver, the number normally doesn't mean so much but it makes you think back to the good times you've had - and the bad times.

"Winning the world championship was a big thing for me but winning grands prix and fighting it out with the best, I'm very lucky to be in that position.

"It's not over yet. I'm hoping for many, many more. Martin..?"


  • Comment number 1.

    nice to see all the F1 drivers being friendly to each other

  • Comment number 2.

    Have Hamilton and Alonso actually made up, or was it just for show?

  • Comment number 3.

    Jenson and Lewis really make a great team, hopefully they will get a competitive car for a whole season next year. Mclaren are doing a good job but there is still room for improvement. Can't wait for todays grand prix!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well done Jenson, seems to be a genuinely nice and well liked racing driver. Makes a change!! Here's to another 100!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice blog Sarah, I'm super proud that we have a hero like Jenson who is British and proud.

    It's a shame the BBC could not be the same....

    Come on Lewis, lets have back to back victories please!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done Jenson!

    You're a great driver, and one of the most genuine guys on the grid. Well done for reaching 200, and I hope your career in F1 is far from over.


  • Comment number 8.

    Well done Jensen on reaching your 200th Grand Prix - a great ambassador for the sport and a British hero! Let's hope you and Lewis can have a cracking race today and perhaps get a 1-2 finish!! Good luck!

  • Comment number 9.

    I have just noticed Alonso's arm has been photoshoped out/erased in the picture of the drivers, it just fades away. Could the whole picture be a cut and paste job and they didn't pose like that at all? (eyebrows moving up and down...heh...LOL)

  • Comment number 10.

    Well done to Jenson. I'm sure he will many more races in the future but scandalously neither myself or millions more will be able to see it live thanks to your farcical decision BBC. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 11.

    Watched all of JBs races to date LIVE. Loved watching the celebrations on the F1 formum when he won the championship. Next best thing to being there in person.

    (Pity this weekend has been soured for us fans by the TV deal).

  • Comment number 12.

    SAVE THE F1 ON THE BBC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice one Jenson. Hope you are around for a long time to come. Nice to see the drivers all having a good time together.

  • Comment number 14.

    Re. gaffarn

    Maybe it was one of Felipe Massa's mechanics who chopped off Alonso's arm. That must be why he outqualified him yesterday.

  • Comment number 15.

    @christoph (2) - They seemed fairly friendly at the end of last week's race, after Lewis had just won. I suspect they're feeling unity against a common cause - Vettel may be a nice young man, but nobody really likes someone who wins every time. Remember Webber's comment earlier in the season (paraphrased): "Obviously he's my team-mate but it would be great if someone could beat him..."

    And to get back on topic, well done Jenson! Nice guy, good driver...maybe he can catch Rubens... !

  • Comment number 16.

    Do not blaim the BBC . Cameron opromised Murdock to bring the BEEB down to size ,and he has Do not forget it when you next vote

  • Comment number 17.

    haha, i hope F1 office parties are just as embarrassing as regular ones. I can't imagine Ron Dennis photocopying his bum, Ross Brawn on the other hand...

  • Comment number 18.

    Well Done, Jenson. More to come, no doubt. We all admire your quiet and cool approach, and now that you've reached the top, let's have more of those. Good luck !!

  • Comment number 19.

    Keep it up Jenson going good next year fyt for the championship from the start !!

  • Comment number 20.

    Well, there you go. You can all shut up with the bashing of the BBC. Well done Jake. Very impressed.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well at least those that are still watching F1 can see Jenson's 200th GP. It's 50/50 whether it will be the same for Lewis' when he gets there.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well Done Jenson, another 100 GP's please! Have a good Hungarian GP Jenson.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well done Jensen and all the best for today

  • Comment number 24.

    Politician's aside, BBC has always had a section that is far left and hates capitalist activities. They must be overjoyed to find an excuse to dump F1 and dissappoint so many fans.

  • Comment number 25.

    Fernando cut up Lewis for the first slice of cake.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have watched every GP Jenson has competed in, but no longer can I unless I fork out £500 for 10 races. Absolute disgrace BBC

  • Comment number 27.


    I don't think they're relationship is as bad as the media would have you believe... Would they go for a drink together? No, probably not, but they have a lot of mutual respect for each other as drivers and that's more than enough to hold a civilised conversation. Senna/Prost this is not.

  • Comment number 28.

    well done bbc might have had to watch that one on sky!!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Well done Jenson :-)

    Well I'm busy fixing up a new dish to receive RTL TV from Germany. At least then I can still watch my sport for FREE - SHAME ON YOU BBC!

  • Comment number 30.

    Well done Jenson. Let's ahve another 100!

    As for all the people still complaining about the TV deal, there is a blog for you to do just that so why not take it over there or is that too much to ask?

    At omnipotent... LOL yeah good on ya... as the dish and satellite equioment to receive RTL is free is it? Sigh!

  • Comment number 31.

    Nice to see him celebrate with a win. I hope he races another 100 GP and adds to his legacy. Very good representative of Britain and was disappointed he didn't win 2009 Sports Personality of the Year.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ 30

    The equipment can be bought for around £70 to £90 with a HD receiver. Less than the cost of two months subscription to Sky.

    Well done Jenson. Shame for Lewis but at least his head seems back in the right place.

  • Comment number 33.

    Returning to the talk of YET ANOTHER GREAT RACE, and discarding all the Sky/BBC mutterings that have NO PLACE on this thread...............

    GREAT win for Jenson Button and McLaren!!!! 200th Grand Prix!

    Great race, deserved win, lots of action, including an explosion (slightly edgy viewing) and a handbrake turn into a pitstop from D'Ambrosio.

    Hope the marshal is OK.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'll wait for Benson's race report for a full review from me on this grand prix, but I thought it was excellent. Delighted to see Lewis being so generous in defeat, and Jenson getting the fairytale win at his 200th grand prix. Lot's of honorable mentions: pleased to see Di Resta finally getting a result and the Toro Rosso's up there.

  • Comment number 35.

    Fitting that Jenson celebrated his 200th race with a classic victory. I really do not think he can be matched in changing conditions. After the recent poor luck he has had it was good to see him bounce back with the win.

  • Comment number 36.

    Button, alonso and hamilton may win the odd race but vettel has it sown up

    Shame on the bbc, shame!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Might be the last Button race win we see live on terrestrial TV.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think that's it for me and F1 until the Sky deal is reversed. My last race will be the 200th for Button.

    Oh and shame on you BBC for blocking my last post which only encouraged people to lobby those involved in F1 to keep it all on the BBC at an affordable price.

    Looks like some of you are on the payroll of Sky already.

  • Comment number 39.

    33.At 16:29 31st Jul 2011, Lord_Lancashire wrote:
    Returning to the talk of YET ANOTHER GREAT RACE, and discarding all the Sky/BBC mutterings that have NO PLACE on this thread...............

    why?? you cant stop us. until trhe bbc realise what they have done and do something about it we will continue to do so

  • Comment number 40.

    In reference to post 33, clearly one already has Sky as you would not be complaining about the legitimate gripes of BBC viewers with respect to the Sky deal.
    I think we need to continue to complain all season on blogs and every other media platform available as most decent F1 fans have been sold out by FOM and the BBC.
    As for today's race, it was pretty good except for Mclaren's faux pas when fitting Lewis with the option tyre instead of the prime tyre before the rain fell.
    If I was cynical I might think Mclaren wanted Button to win today's race, not Lewis.
    It was all rather hard to take on the chin after Lewis appeared to be in a winning position after his second stop, but fouling up strategy seems to have become Mclaren policy of late.
    Great drive by Di Resta though. Really pleased for him.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Great racing and great cameraderie between the McLaren boys.

    A fitting tribute to a great ambassador for the sport and a fitting result today.

    It really is a great partnership and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 43.

    How many more of Jenson's races will we see? I wish Jenson all the best for the future but the future for F1 and its fans isn't looking bright.

    Shame on Barbara Slater and the other execs who brokered this betrayal.

    And more shame on the BBC for ignoring our outrage. You are a public service and we are the public.

  • Comment number 44.

    Fantastic viewing, showed the red bulls what 'racing' means. Congrats JB

  • Comment number 45.

    Lewis Hamilton was actually given a stop go penalty for not holding the properly which put him to the back of the next photo...

  • Comment number 46.

    Congrats Button.

    Hey, Sarah, you're a journalist, right? F1 means a lot to you, yeah? It's popularity now must make your position more eminent. BBC had something to do with that, eh?
    How about you do a blog on the Sky takeover, one from the public's point of view?
    One from the view of the people of directly & indirectly cough for both the BBC & F1? And yet appear to have no say in either.
    Seem's a gallant thing for you to do.
    What say you, Sarah?

  • Comment number 47.

    Just over five years ago people were stupidly writing Jenson off as he hadn't yet one a race. He remedied that in Hungary and has subsequently demonstrated a supreme smooth and classy driving style. His win today was beautiful to watch. Long live F1.

  • Comment number 48.

    Congratulations to Jenson on 200 races.....What a pity that the vast majority of his fans won't be able to afford to watch him racing in the future due to the shameful sellout by the BBC.

  • Comment number 49.

    Congratulations Jenson on a wonderful career spanning 200 races (to date!). I still remember your first race and some of the not so complimentary comments you received when you first arrived in F1, but you have proved them wrong. Not just as a World Champion and a race winning driver, but with the professionalism and integrity with which you have represented yourself and your sport. I only wish the same could be said for some others involved in F1 over this weekend!

    Well done, especially with the great race win today and I look forward to seeing you on the top step of the podium again this season (my last I'm afraid).

    You are a true inspriation and a great role model, who my two young sons never stop talking about.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

  • Comment number 52.

    @grayhame - wow Cameron is being blamed for a lot since he got made PM, first its because of all the high bills and then its because of how much the Goverment owe, now you say he's taken away F1 ???? Sorry but if you want to get political the reason we're in the mess we are in is down to LABOUR. But the BBC have had to make some cuts due to the freeze on the TV licence - which don't forget the public wanted as the Licence Fee was getting far too high and the BBC were and still are paying out too much in wages for BIG bosses and presenters. Cut their wages and fee's down and F1 could return fully to BBC1 !! Congrats to Button Fantastic race !!

  • Comment number 53.

    Nice drive Jenson, well deserved.

    But the SKY debacle needs airing at every opertunity.

    Ben Gallop's blog is now closed to comments!

    Can't handle the truth then eh, not a good decision then as you claim?

    RE-open it now & respond to 6336 posted responses before you bottled the blog!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Well done Jensen! Great to see a McLaren doing the business again!

  • Comment number 55.

    grayhame wrote:
    Do not blaim the BBC . Cameron opromised Murdock to ... etc

    Not only illiterate but utter tosh

    Not fit to vote, let alone to tell me how I should "!

  • Comment number 56.

    well done jenson on reaching ur 200th grand prix and winning the hungarian race nice to see vettel been beaten again yessssssssss!!!!!!! mc claren are the tops.

  • Comment number 57.

    Congratulations to Jenson on winning his 200th GP. Pity about Hamilton's tyre choice - both with the supersoft/prime and then inters. Oh well - at least it kept me shouting at the TV :-)

  • Comment number 58.

    Jenson does well in poor conditions, However he is no match for Red Bull at present.
    Very good race .
    Its just a great shame the BBC has sold out the fans

  • Comment number 59.

    Alonso stated many times that he had nothing against Lewis when he was at McLaren, what he had had it against the team's tactics.

  • Comment number 60.

    ‘The sponsorhip revenues *will* decline in 2012-13 and onwards due to dropping total viewing figures in the UK and this will offset the additional £1m the teams are gaining, so it's not good for the teams and therefore for the sport.
    It appears this deal was driven by the BBC looking to reduce costs. I appreciate that the details are commercially sensitive, but I would have preferred the BBC to default and show nothing rather than this deal. I would thought it even better if they had continued to the end of their contract in 2013 and then not bid for additional rights. That would have saved far more money than this deal, but the savings would have come in later.
    Now the BBC is commited to spending *more* money in total over the extended contract term and effectively stopping any other free to air broadcaster giving full coverage over the 8 year period. So its bad for the BBC and bad for the viewers.
    So who is it good for? Well Sky obviously, they have got full coverage of yet another gold standard sporting event and are well on the way to be the main provider of any kind of sports broadcasting.
    Changes in contract terms and conditions do usually command a fee. What were these fees and to whom and from whom were they paid? Since this is commercially sensitive we will presumably not be told.
    As Martin Brundel said.
    Sky is closing in.
    This deal needs investigating by the BBC trust, and the only way to do that is to go through the formal complaints process (which will take some months). In parallel to this enough political pressure may bring about a select commitee investigation as all politicians are sensitive to issues related to Sky at the moment’.

    If you wish to try & make difference…

  • Comment number 61.

    Well done Button, nice to see a positive F1 story! Shame we wont see so much of you or your fellow drivers after the BBC's selling out of the fans!

  • Comment number 62.

    Fantastic race from Button and Hamil.....Sorry you'll have to pay £50 for the other half of the story........

  • Comment number 63.

    Congratulations on 200 races! F1 has never had a better role model.

    Shame the same can't be said of BBC management... silence is not golden, it's rude

    RBS think its a good move ( ) the same bank that employed Fred the shred.... and that worked out well....

  • Comment number 64.

    Jenson you're a legend and we're all so proud of you. I couldnt imagine F1 without you, congratulations on an extremely succesful career so far and thankyou for all the memories. What an incredible journey you've had since winning in Hungary 5 years ago! Incredible drive on Sunday Jense and hope you have a great summer break, come back and win them all. Here's to the next hundred, Come On JB!!

  • Comment number 65.

    On this selling out to sky business, if we're REALLY desperate, we could always wish for ITV to step in and take it back for ah ok, i gathered we weren't THAT desperate...

  • Comment number 66.

    @2. It's a myth that Alonso and Hamilton don't get on. They're not best buds like in the Webber/Alonso/Kubica card school way or the Hamilton/Sutil intimate dinner way but they get on very well, mostly driven by their huge respect of each other's ability.

    Seems everyone has used this space to have a pop at the Beeb. It's happening - get over it! My two concerns are whether Sky will put ad breaks in the race and how the BBC team will be dissected?

  • Comment number 67.

    @66 If we all as you say, just got over it, there would have been no public reaction whatsoever and that would probably have given the BBC the green light to hand over to Sky completely. At least this way we go down fighting and I don't care if Sky put advert breaks in because I don't have sky..Anyway congratulations to Jenson on his 200th GP and winning return to Hungary.

  • Comment number 68.

    Congrats Jenson - was a tough 150GP's some curious career choices made over the years but finally you delivered exactly how you said 'give me a good car and I will give you a world champion'

    Now you still have a competitive with a great team and I wish you continued success for may many GP's to come.


  • Comment number 69.

    Hamilton is still the greatest, Button will hoover up the Hungary, he is a great also ran tho....

  • Comment number 70.

    Just cancelled my SKY on the back of the last month.

  • Comment number 71.

    Congratulations Jenson. Shame about the BBC just joining the Mammon club or have they been there for many years. Jenson the true gentleman and proud father. Happiness always.

  • Comment number 72.

    BBC selling out to Sky, utter disgrace.

    BBC gagging and silence in response to the public reaction, disgusting.

    I've lost all respect for the BBC. This deal does not represent "good value for money" for the license fee payer.


  • Comment number 73.

    Bernie Ecclestone has said he will do his best to keep Formula One on the BBC amid reports that the broadcaster will not be able to afford to renew its contract in 2013.

    A story in the Sunday Times cited a senior source in the BBC saying the broadcaster is considering cutting its F1 coverage in order to continue to fund its digital channels, such as BBC4. However, Ecclestone, who works on behalf of CVC Capital Partners to manage F1's commercial rights, has since told the Times that he is committed to keeping the sport on free-to-air TV.

    "We want Formula One to stay free to viewers," Ecclestone said. "That is 100%. The BBC have done a great job for us and we like their shows and the people obviously like it because so many are watching.

    "They did warn me that they were facing problems but, so far, nothing more has been said. I hope they want to keep us because it is such a success and I will do my best to keep Formula One on the BBC."

    The Sunday Times report said "F1 costs £1 a head for every viewer", but the statistics it based that on appear to be at odds with those from inside the sport. Formula One Teams Association chairman and McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said the story undersold the value of F1 to the BBC.

    "Formula One insiders have been surprised by the recent newspaper reports, since they contain significant statistical inaccuracies," he told the Daily Telegraph. "The reality is that the Formula One viewing figures in the UK are high and getting higher.

    "In terms of average viewership, peak viewership and average share of viewership - the three key indices for TV executives - more people are watching Formula One this year than last year or indeed than in recent previous years. For example, the average share of viewership for the BBC's coverage of the recent Chinese Grand Prix, which' Lewis Hamilton won, was more than 50%.

    "In other words, as many people were watching Formula One in the UK that Sunday morning as were watching every other channel combined - including all terrestrial channels and all satellite channels - a staggeringly impressive statistic. And the TV viewing figures for other recent grands prix have been massively impressive too.

    For as long as it has been broadcast in the UK, F1 has been on free-to-air and many of the team's sponsorship deals depend on the extra exposure that brings to the sport. Whitmarsh said it would hit the teams hard if the rights were bought by a subscription channel.

    "It's crucial to the commercial model of Formula One that TV coverage should remain free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers - and the BBC delivers that in the UK," he said. "Moreover, besides the quantity of viewership, the quality of the BBC's coverage is consistently high too - which is just as important. Also important is the demographic data - which shows that F1 is now attracting an increasing number of younger and female viewers, which is also very positive.

    "Formula One is the pinnacle of world motorsport - always has been, always will be. As such, it's appropriate that the BBC should continue to cover it. I think it would be very sad, and most unwise, if the BBC were to disappoint so many millions of British sports fans by axeing it, and that's why I don't believe for a moment that they'd seriously consider doing such a thing."

  • Comment number 74.

    Come on BBC where is the justification for the cut to F1?
    Why do you not look at other areas of your broadcast schedule to find cuts?

    For instance do we need 6 programmes about Antiques, see below for the list of current programmes on the Beeb.

    Antiques Master
    Antiques Road Trip
    Antiques Roadshow
    Bargain Hunt
    Cash in the Attic
    Flog It

    Not forgetting these 6 Cooking programmes put out by Aunty.

    The Good Cook
    Rick Stein's Spain
    Saturday Kitchen
    Something for the Weekend
    The Kitchen Café
    Food Programme

    Let’s have some fairness with regard to proportional viewing. Formula One has higher viewing figures than a lot of the drivel that the BBC broadcast.

    To all fans, please vote on the e=petition, don’t let it lie.

  • Comment number 75.

    How did I miss that this blog was still open.

    Stop the BBC / Sky F1 deal now, it's an utter disgrace.

  • Comment number 76.

    Don't forget to tweet a question about this sellout to the BBC F1 team this weekend. Tweet #bbcf1 often enough and it'll trend, so attracting more attention.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hey good to see you guys above over here!i didnt realise this was still open either.Stop this BBC.Its a mess.Youve had thousands of comments.The fans deserve better than this.Did you think?

  • Comment number 78.

    Where are the genuine commentators/presenters with integrity, who are not afraid to say what they really think about the BBC reneging on their contract with Formula 1?
    Let’s have some proper debate between the fans and the BBC blog initiators.
    Prove to the fans you are listening and care about the concerns they have.
    Is this too much to ask? Show the public you are an organisation that can be trusted once more!
    RESPOND to the comments!


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