Formula One is very much a young man’s game in 2014.
Long gone are the days when the likes of Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet racing at a high level in their late 30s and on next year’s grid we will have two 20-year-olds and a 17-year-old.
In 2005 there were six drivers who lined up on the grid in Brazil aged 30 and over, 10 years prior to that at the season-opener in Brazil – albeit with an increased field – it was 11; we’re still waiting on what will happen with Caterham but if the F1 season was to start tomorrow it would be four.
Which is why McLaren’s decision to re-hire Jenson Button should be commended.
Button is certainly not the future, that was Kevin Magnussen as McLaren look to develop another Lewis Hamilton. The British driver is also considerably more expensive than the young Dane as, alongside Fernando Alonso, McLaren are likely to have one of the most expensive wage bills over the next two seasons.
But what Button is, and it may not sound glamorous or particularly enticing on the surface, is he’s a known and proven quantity.
With 268 races under his belt he’s the most experienced driver on next year’s grid. He also has shown himself to be an outstanding team-mate, in different circumstances.
To Hamilton, who has fallen out with Alonso and Nico Rosberg, and last season alongside Magnussen, when all along he must have known they were competing for one seat in 2015, however any tension was kept away from public view.
Button will be an excellent foil to Alonso, a skilled and consistent enough driver to push him while at the same time an agreeable enough character not to disrupt the harmony of the team.
The only time there has been an open disagreement between him and Jacques Villeneuve was in 2003, but what could have been an extremely uncomfortable situation was smoothed over by Button getting on with his job, and outperforming the Canadian.
Which is precisely what Button did last season. A third and sixth-place at Australia and Malaysia set the tone and even though Magnussen turned heads at the start, Button finished the season 67 points ahead. He made McLaren’s decision a difficult one.
Magnussen was the future – a potential world champion was the talk within the team. But Button earned his way back into their thinking with a some gritty and determined drives.
He’s a millionaire and a world champion, Button doesn’t need to compete in F1 anymore but his desire, application and hunger should act as an example for each and every youngster on the F1 grid.
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