It looked like a foregone conclusion. The 2102 title, that is: so complete was Jenson Button’s performance in winning the season-opening race at Albert Park it seemed he was a racing certainty to take the crown for the second time in a career that began in Australia in 2000.
His failure to do so was more a matter of McLaren machinery than the man at the wheel. Button, who turned 33 in January, won just two more races, in Belgium and Brazil, and finished up fifth overall, two points behind departing teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Now Button has a youthful hot shot alongside him in the shape of Sergio Pérez, and the Englishman’s focus will be totally different: keep an eye on the youngster in both senses – wise and watchful – of that expression.
Button has surprised many by the way he has moulded McLaren around his mild but thoughtful personality. The perfect gentleman at all times, he is not subject to the mood swings we saw in Hamilton even in the course of his final year with the team.
Jenson is, too, the most complete stylist in F1 today – the Nelson Piquet of his generation, you might say – and a man who is known for his kindness to the machines that carry him around the racetracks of the world.
The other side of that coin is a perceived tendency not to get in, shut up and get on with it when the car is not everything he would like it to be.
Does Button have another title in him? You bet – and with McLaren about to celebrate 50 years since the marque was born, you can also bet that 2013 is as good a year as any for Jenson to up the ante, add to his 15 race wins so far and carry the fight to the best of them.