Jenson Button is a less deserving F1 World Champion than compatriot Lewis Hamilton and only lifted the laurels this year because he had a superior car – that is the controversial view of Tamara Ecclestone, the socialite daughter of the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone.
The British star clinched the drivers' crown in 2009 at the end of his tenth campaign at the highest level, and his success was largely secured off the back of an incredible run of six victories from the first seven outings, as the Mercedes-powered Brawn GP BGP 001 came out of the starting blocks in better shape than any of its rivals and Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello eased to a comfortable one-two in the Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser in Melbourne – only weeks after the ex-Honda F1 operation had looked to be down-and-out without a hope of salvation.
However, since his last triumph in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul in early June, Button has not mounted the top step of the rostrum again – and indeed has ascended it at all just twice, finishing as runner-up to Barrichello at Monza and third behind the Red Bull Racing pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the Abu Dhabi finale earlier this month.
After months of looking as though he was on the verge of throwing it all away following a string of lacklustre performances, the 29-year-old finally sealed the deal courtesy of a fifth-place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – and the eldest daughter of Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone contends that such a manner of attaining the title is not befitting of a world champion.
“I don't think Jenson Button deserves to be the F1 World Champion,” the 25-year-old told British newspaper the Daily Mail
. “He has been in it such a long time and never really came close to winning a championship. Suddenly the car is good and he's won the championship. He only won six races, and they were all at the beginning of the season.
“If they'd all had the same car, then Jenson Button definitely wouldn't have won this season. Lewis Hamilton is a better driver and he's a nicer person.”
That last remark is believed to allude to an interview that the part-time model and Sky Sports
TV presenter conducted with Button earlier this year.
“He was just answering his 'phone in the middle of the interview and I was like, 'Dude, I'm sitting here, what are you doing?'” she explained.