Button was employed in January by Williams as a Senior Advisor to “provide advice and guidance to the team” and “support and develop both race and academy drivers”. Speaking at the Spanish Grand Prix, Capito was emphasising the value of having a 15-time grand prix winner onboard.
Button, once famed for his playboy antics during the early years of his grand prix career, now finds himself on the other side of the pit wall occupying the elder statesman role. The 2009 World Champion has 17 years of F1 experience to call upon in advising Williams’ drivers.
Whilst Williams’s George Russell is looking close to the finished product, the Grove outfit believes all its drivers, particularly the junior members, could benefit from Button’s knowledge.
The former F1 champion might see some of his younger, wilder self in F2 tearaway Dan Ticktum, sometimes nicknamed ‘Dick Tantrum’ for his outbursts on and off the track.
Ticktum was dropped from the Red Bull junior programme after a series of poor performances and incidents, which included implying Mick Schumacher’s Prema team had been cheating to help him win the FIA F3 title. Ticktum’s career looked to be adrift until he was announced as a Williams junior driver, and now competes in F2 with Carlin.
Button’s career had similarly stalled after being dropped by Flavio Briatore’s Renault. Briatore publicly castigated Button for being a “playboy”. Bernie Ecclestone then advised BAR boss Dave Richards not to sign the Brit, but Button managed to turn things around once being signed up to the team, which morphed into Honda and then Brawn, taking him to the F1 Drivers’ title in 2009.
Grove’s other junior driver Jamie Chadwick has shot to fame in a manner not dissimilar to Button when he made his debut in 2000, as he leapt straight from British F3 to F1.
Chadwick made international headlines when she won the inaugural W Series title in 2019, and now has received widespread media attention for her involvement in the pioneering Extreme E series, which has made it mandatory for each team to field one female and male driver.
Talking at the Circuit de Catalunya, Capito believes this invaluable life experience at the highest level of motorsport can be well utilised by Williams and its drivers.
“It’s very helpful for me to talk to him,” he told Motor Sport. “So we are in regular communication. He still has people in the team he knows, he talks to them. Then I talk to Jenson, and I talk to the guys.
“So he brings some good ideas, and we always talking. And he is very motivational for the team, everybody loves him. And for me, he’s a huge support. You know, if you are not sure and then can share ideas with somebody who is outside like Jenson, but still knows everything, it’s very good to help you develop decisions.”
Capito says Button has an overview of the whole team, rather than just focussing on the technical side or supporting the drivers.
“It’s not about bringing the details on the car. He sees how the team is organised. When we discuss things with him we see what is motivational, where to get the drivers involved. He sees where the drivers can benefit the team.
“So it’s about getting these ideas to our drivers, and getting them up to speed, and Jenson talking to our drivers, about his experience, and how to get the team behind them. The drivers develop through that as well. So in various areas, he is very helpful.”
Capito says there are no plans for Button to get more deeply involved with the team in a management role.
“At the moment it’s difficult with him being in the US and not travelling. So far, he couldn’t come to the factory, but for sure as soon as possible he will come to the factory. And then we have to see how it develops, and how his life is as well. At the moment he can’t even go into our garage!”
Join Motor Sport for an exclusive online Q&A with the 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button in association with Princess Yachts here.