For many top sportsmen there’s a critical period, starting in your mid-twenties, when you can do your greatest work unencumbered by the garbage of life. It’s often a very short window, possibly just a few years – ten, maximum.
Step forward Jenson Button.
I’ve always believed in the mantra that ‘great drivers will find great cars’ and Formula 1 2009 is once again proving the point. Put simply ‘those who got, get’.
Getting one’s backside in a race-winning machine mind isn’t the endgame, no. What’s paramount is taking your chance – and that’s where the greats push on.
Look back a few years: Mika Hakkinen had shown awesome pace in the junior formulae. Quickly snapped up by Team Lotus, he was thrown headfirst into the F1 fight. A couple of years of tooling around in wretched cars followed before he secured a drive with McLaren.
Big shunts and mediocre results were generally the norm until mid-1997, when the Woking team’s MP4-12 came on song, David Coulthard moved over – and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s so top drawer about this year’s main man is the way he’s accepting the wins, the plaudits and the praise with such grace and humility. To such a degree, in fact, that very few seem to mind that F1 2009-style is becoming a tad predictable.
At Monaco’s annual Amber Fashion event – where the better-looking members of the F1 rat pack don cool threads and strut their stuff – the backstage banter had a positive and cheerful vibe, with jokes and laughter in full flow. Jenson was right at the heart of it all.
Not all recent championship favourites have enjoyed such bonhomie with their rivals.
In this industry of cool where monumental egos abound, it’s often good to remind oneself that – at the end of the day – reputation is all we have.
Nice guys, it seems, don’t always finish last.