Jenson Button says his final four years as a full-time McLaren F1 driver being unable to compete for wins ultimately drove him away from the sport having experienced years of success before the team’s dip.
The 2009 Formula 1 world champion’s final race win was at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, with his last podium at the 2014 Australian race, which represented his sole rostrum result in his last four seasons as a full-time F1 driver while the Woking-based team slipped down the team pecking order.
Button says that frustration of not being competitive, compared to the regular F1 wins and title challenges before 2013, meant he lost his love for the sport which was accelerated by McLaren’s disastrous partnership with Honda.
“The last two years have been tough after you’ve achieved and been lucky enough to achieve in this sport with some great years with McLaren,” Button said. “To suddenly have a few years of not being able to achieve and seeing other guys at the front fighting for wins every race it is tough. I probably left it a bit too long.”
Despite his frustrations, Button says he still keeps a keen eye on F1 and enjoyed his one-race return this year as stand-in for Fernando Alonso when he contested the Indianapolis 500. Button has been impressed by the title battle between Mercedes and Ferrari and is confident the sport is recovering from a tough few seasons.
“After the last race in Abu Dhabi I thought I probably wouldn’t watch it but I have,” he said. “This year is an important year for Formula 1 in the way the cars are having improved and when the drivers get out of the cars you can see they’ve been working hard.
“They are happy and enjoy driving these cars which helps the sport. Drivers are in a better place which helps the sponsors, helps the teams and the fans love it.
“Also you have two or three teams fighting for wins which hasn’t be the case for so long. Having the fight with Ferrari and Mercedes is great for the sport and having three teams fighting for wins is what needs to happen.”