300 GP starts
Rubens Barrichello was F1’s first triple centenarian and Jenson Button has become the third
by Peter Higham
Jenson Button became the third driver in F1 history to start 300 Grands Prix when the lights went out in Malaysia. It took him 113 races to win his first GP, but he went on to become a popular world champion in 2009 and had 15 F1 victories at the time of writing.
He joined Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher as a member of this exclusive club, his erstwhile rivals starting 323 and 307 GPs respectively. Barrichello’s absolute record includes 12 victories and finishing as runner-up in 2002, in an era when seven-time champion Schumacher was rewriting the F1 history books.
Button showed glimpses of promise as a relative unknown with Williams during his maiden F1 season in 2000, although subsequent campaigns with Benetton/Renault proved a struggle. It was with British American Racing and Honda that he established himself – scoring his breakthrough victory in Hungary 2006 after a typically canny drive.
Honda withdrew from the sport at the end of 2008, leaving his career in the balance, but the team’s 2009 car was rebranded as a Brawn BGP 001 and – now with a Mercedes engine – he scored six GP victories to clinch the following year’s world title with a round to spare. The team was acquired by Mercedes after that single successful season, but Button chose to move on and defend the championship with McLaren. Three years as team-mate to Lewis Hamilton delivered another eight victories as he more than matched his highly rated younger colleague.