Button plans to spend more time with Williams drivers in 2022
It’s been a year since Jenson Button returned to the team with which he made his Formula 1 debut in 2000, Williams, this time as an advisor. However, the 2021 season did not go as planned for the Briton due to the restrictions that persist in the paddock, due to the COVID-19 pandemic: he found himself confined to the hospitality of the team, in parallel with his role as a consultant with Sky Sports F1.
Button is however hopeful that the situation will improve this year. « I spent a little time at the factory, and I am obviously present at the races », comments the 2009 World Champion. “Basically it’s about being a critical ear to certain people on the team. I’ve spent a lot of time with Dave Robson, who is the chief engineer, and Jost Capito. [PDG et team principal, ndlr], as well as the marketing team. «
« But I haven’t spent so much time with the riders this year, just because I couldn’t go to the engineering room or the garage, because of the bubbles. [isolant les différents groupes dans le paddock]. It really hasn’t been the easiest year. I only had access to the food court, the hospitality, and that’s where I can hang out with the engineers and Jost. I think it was good, but it was really limited this year which is a shame for both sides. But I’m going to do a lot more with them next year. «
After hitting rock bottom in recent years taking last place in the constructors’ championship three times in a row, Williams has started to straighten his head in a more successful 2021 campaign, and Button plans to help the team continue to do so with its experience of 306 Grand Prix starts.
« It’s a great team. They have a good team. And I’m going to spend a lot more time with them, with the drivers, with the young driver program. », continues the Englishman. « They have some good ones now. I will also be spending some time with them in the simulator room. Not to drive – I would love to! – but to see how they approach the race and their work with the team. It was really my strong point in motorsport: teamwork. And I certainly bring a lot of experience in this area. «
George Russell, who spent the last three years at Williams before being promoted by Mercedes, in any case praised the contribution of his compatriot. « I was very lucky, even before Jenson returned to Williams, to have a good relationship with him, and he was very open and was always there when needed. », says Russell.
« Since the relaxation of the COVID rules, he’s still in the garage, in the hospitality, he talks with the mechanics, the engineers, myself, Jost, and I think it’s really great, just to ask him his opinion ideas and giving feedback and advice from his own experience. Obviously he’s got a huge amount of it. It’s always unique to have someone like Jenson on the team. «
Interview by Erwin Jaeggi