2009 World champion Jenson Button has announced that he is to return to the Williams Formula 1 Team – the team with whom he made his Formula 1 debut – as Senior Advisor.
Whilst it’s not immediately clear what Button’s new role will actually involve, it’s widely thought that Williams are looking for both a senior driver’s perspective on sporting matters, as well as someone to act as an ambassador for the team in and around the sport.
Additionally, being one of the few drivers that made it to the very pinnacle of Formula 1 Button brings with him a wealth of relevant experience he can share with Williams two drivers in their formative Grand Prix seasons.
Button has long since been considered a driver with intelligence, in the mould of Alain Prost, rather than one who survives on raw talent and instinct, which lends itself perfectly to the role of driver coach, if not full time, then certainly from time to time and at key moments.
Jenson Button began his Grand Prix career with Williams in 2000, but left after a season to join Renault. Two years with the French squad butting heads with Team Principal Flavio Briatore was enough for both men and JB left to join BAR, (later becoming Honda).
His first taste of a Grand Prix car with the potential to win races elevated Button into the top echelons of the sport and made him much sought after, and only some serious contract wrangling and the involvement of the court of arbitration that prevented a move back to Williams.
Sadly for Button, after winning his first Grand Prix in 2006, the Honda F1 cars that followed were absolute donkeys and the Japanese squad decided to withdraw from F1 rather than suffer the ignominy of another disastrous year in 2009.
In a salvage mission that would become instant Formula 1 folklore, Honda team boss Ross Brawn stepped in to buy the team at the eleventh hour knowing that in the double diffuser the already-built Honda (which became the first and only Brawn Grand Prix car) had a design advantage over its rivals that was likely to make it very competitive.
Nobody could have known just quite how competitive, as Jenson Button and Brawn romped to half a dozen wins in the first half of the 2009 Formula 1 season, effectively sealing the championship before their rivals had a chance to build a double diffuser of their own.
World Champion Button then moved to McLaren, where he partnered Lewis Hamilton, taking seven more wins before retiring for good in 2017.
Since retiring from Formula 1, Button has combined outings in other series with TV punditry work where he works for SkyF1.
In my opinion, Button is absolutely perfect for an ambassadorial role, and Williams have chosen very wisely. He’s smart, intelligent, articulate and well liked. His F1 driving experience is recent enough to still be relevant, and he’s senior enough and was successful enough to be respected at board level. I think when he speaks, he’ll be listened to.
Hopefully Williams’ latest acquisition will prove to be a positive force in Williams’ resurgence. Welcome back Jenson!