Jenson Button won the 2009 drivers’ title. He has spoken about the way he dealt with the pressure of racing in F1 at that time.
Jenson Button revealed that he went out to a bar with his father on the night before his final race. He felt that it was important for him to take the time and have a chat with his dad before the race.
Jenson’s father John Button was a vital part of Jenson’s career at Grands Prix. He passed away in early 2014. In the ‘High Performance’ podcast, Jenson Button said, “I actually had a pint the night before the race, which I probably wasn’t supposed to do.”
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“But I had a pint in the hotel bar with my dad, and I just looked at him and said, ‘I’m gonna win the World Championship. I have to win the World Championship tomorrow – before the last race of the season.”
“He just looked at me and nodded, and I woke up the next day refreshed, walked into the team, and they’re like, ‘Oh… OK!’
“I had a great race, one of the best races of my life fighting through [the field], and the car was obviously working well.”
“Fighting through, all the time on the radio like, ‘Where are we? Where’s Lewis [Hamilton]? Where’s Sebastian [Vettel]? Where do we need to be?”
“Having as much information as possible, how hard I should push? How brave I had to be on the moves of overtaking people because a lot of them were close calls. Crossing that finish line, was a very special, emotional moment, doing it that way.
“For me, it felt that race – the highs and the lows of that race weekend – was my whole career in two days!”
Jenson Button feels support is important in F1
Button explained that having a bubble of support around him always made his life much easier in motorsport. “What you see on TV is what you try and portray as an individual. I always wanted to be the smiley guy, because that’s what I should be, right?” he said.
“I’m driving an F1 car – it’s the best job in the world. But it comes with an immense amount of pressure. You put yourself under a lot of pressure, but the team does, the journalists, everyone.
“Every slip up is on TV for the world to see. Having a life under a microscope is really tough and you didn’t get into motorsport wanting that. You didn’t want to be a celebrity, you wanted to be a sportsman and achieve in Formula 1.
“It’s not like a singer or an actor that needs the public behind them to actually achieve in this sport.”
He further explained that it’s important for the drivers to generate that feeling of support around them.
“We love having support because it’s amazing. But when they write negatives about you, it’s really, really tough and it does get you down,” he added.
“I understand a lot of drivers have been through the same. I would say have someone at every race with you that you can sit down and talk to face-to-face. Even if they’re not saying anything, it’s just getting it out.
“I think drivers these days should have that support. Looking back, I would have, but I thought I was too much of a man to have support. At this level, at the pinnacle of any sport, you need that support.”