Jenson Buttons breakthrough Formula One win finally came with Honda at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. For the man himself it was vindication of his controversial decision to buy himself out of his contract with Williams - the team that gave him his race debut back in 2000. For his fans and admirers it was merely proof of what they knew all along - that the Englishman just needed the right equipment to get the job done!
Before his Formula One dry spell, winning had been something of a habit for Button. As an eight year-old he had triumphed in his first karting race, despite starting from the back of the grid in wet conditions. Crowned the British Cadet kart champion aged 10, he took the same series with even greater ease the following year after winning all 34 races.
Quickly outgrowing his home competition, a string of international karting titles followed. Button became the youngest winner of the European Super A championship and the youngest runner-up in the Formula A world championship. He completed his karting career with victory in the 1997 Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup at Suzuka, before making the inevitable move to single-seaters.
In 1998 he won the highly competitive British Formula Ford championship at his first attempt with nine wins for Haywood Racing. He also took victory in the Formula Ford Festival, finished second in the European championship and landed the prestigious McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award. So rapid was his career progress that Button already seemed like a big fish in a small pond and he promptly moved up to British Formula Three for 1999.
Claiming three victories, seven podiums and third overall in his debut season, Button fully deserved his Rookie of the Year honour and it wasnt long before his successes were rewarded with a Formula One test. First for McLaren and then for Prost, Button wowed with his pace and ability, before Williams offered him a race drive for 2000.
Williams decision to sign Button - at 20, Britains youngest ever Grand Prix driver - resulted in unparalleled hype and expectation, but the scrutiny didnt affect their new stars performance. Indeed, a point in his second race, third on the grid at Spa and eighth in the championship meant the young Britons reputation as a smooth and unflappable driver remained firmly intact, even if he did score less than half the points of team mate Ralf Schumacher.
In spite of his apparent success, Button was farmed out by Williams to Benetton for the next two years. The time proved largely frustrating. His 2001 performances were hampered by a difficult car, while in 2002 he struggled to match team mate Jarno Trulli in qualifying and was left disappointed by a run of bad luck in races. He was replaced by Fernando Alonso for 2003, but would show his mettle once more following a move to BAR.
Buttons mature performances that year helped see the future Honda squad through a difficult season and he overshadowed veteran team mate Jacques Villeneuve in the process. The next year Villeneuve was replaced by Takuma Sato and, as such, Button became the teams number-one. With the Honda-BAR partnership at last finding its feet, the British driver scored 10 podiums and finished an impressive third in the drivers championship, despite not winning a single race. The only sour note was the long-running dispute over who had the future rights to Buttons services. Williams was ultimately the answer, though their protege would eventually remain with BAR/Honda, after successfully negotiating a release from his contract.
Over recent seasons, many have questioned whether Button made the right decision. After their runners-up position in 2004, BAR fell to sixth in the constructors championship the following year, and although a Honda takeover in 2006 helped bring Button that deserved and emotional first win at the Hungaroring, the teams form subsequently declined, culminating in Hondas withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2008.
The left Buttons career in limbo for a few months, before a management buyout of the former Honda team put him back on the grid for 2009. Brawn GP proved to be a revelation, with Button winning six of the first seven races en route to finally securing his first drivers' title with one round of the season to spare. That was soon followed by the surprise news of a switch to McLaren to partner Lewis Hamilton for 2010.
As many predicted, Button struggled initially to match his compatriot for outright speed, but that didnt stop him bringing his new team their first two wins of the season. But with McLaren ultimately outpaced by Red Bull and Ferrari, retaining his crown was never really on the cards and he finished the year fifth overall, one place behind Hamilton.
In 2011 though, Buttons abilities would come to the fore. Whilst Hamilton became embroiled in numerous tangles, Button largely kept out of trouble and produced some of the finest performances of his career. His last gasp victory in Canada - in which he recovered from the back of the field - was just one of several high points in a season which saw him score three wins and 270 points en route to second in the drivers championship, three places above Hamilton, the first time that the 2008 world champion had been beaten by a team mate.
2012 started in the best possible way for Button with victory in Australia, but a run of bad luck thereafter left him out of genuine title contention. He did manage to pick up four podiums in the second half of the season, including a classy lights-to-flag win in Belgium and a composed drive to victory in tricky conditions at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but he would have been disappointed with fifth in the points.