Jenson Button was the cheerful but tenacious underdog of Formula 1, who, when he finally got his hands on a winning car, never looked back. Entering the sport in 2000, he was the youngest Briton in F1 history. In 2009, at the age of 29, he realized his dream of becoming world champion. He was also ready to take a huge pay cut when his team were at the top which allowed him and Brawn GP to continue and make history.
He is one of only two drivers to have beaten Lewis Hamilton on the same team in a season (he did so at McLaren in 2011; the other was Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2016). In total, JB won 15 Grands Prix and eight pole positions out of 306 starts. After retiring from F1 in 2018, he won the Japanese Super GT Championship and competed in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. He is still regularly present in the paddock in his role of punditry for Sky Sports F1.
For 2021, the 41-year-old has taken on two remarkable new challenges. Extreme E races electric off-road SUVs through landscapes threatened by climate change, including deserts, rainforests and glaciers. Button is the owner of the JBXE team, which leads the Swedish duo of Kevin Hansen and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky. Rosberg and Hamilton also have teams.
Additionally, Button revived British bodybuilder Radford, as well as TV presenter Ant Anstead. The historic brand, which became famous for its bespoke Minis in the 1960s (with a little help from the Beatles), is now based in California and has its own test track where Button is developing new models. One of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that Radford works with is Lotus.
Born and raised in Somerset, Button has spent most of his working life in Monaco, but moved to Los Angeles four years ago when he fell in love with swimsuit model Brittny Ward. They have a two-year-old son, a daughter born last December and a collection of cars scattered around the world. But before we get to JB’s bulky Ferrari, Jaguar and Porsches stash, let’s start with …
Opel Cavalier (1990)
Button’s first car was an eight-valve dark blue G-reg 2.0i Vauxhall Cavalier. He replaced the gray bumpers with a color code to make it look like the top GSi, installed Sachs suspension and big speakers, and gave it 17-inch alloys. All the other 17-year-olds in Frome were gagging with envy. The police were interested in it every now and then, just to see what he had done under the hood and with the exhaust.