Jenson Button has confessed that he would have loved to have had the opportunity to partner former F1 World Champion James Hunt at Hesketh Racing back in the 1970s as 'they truly knew how to have a great time' – and were he a team owner now and choosing drivers to compete for him, Paul di Resta would be right towards the top of his list.
As he relaxes on his summer break, Button was quizzed by the official F1 website about some of his ultimate ideas for the sport – and how, if he could travel back in time, he would have envisaged his own dream career shaping out. It makes for entertaining reading.
Regarded as something of a playboy himself several years ago, it is perhaps little surprise that the McLaren-Mercedes star picks 1976 world champion Hunt as his ideal team-mate – reasoning that 'I think we would have a great time' – whilst Hesketh, he muses, 'truly knew how to have a great time, taking the mickey out of other teams...they were very serious when they went racing, but they were also serious about having a good time'. And what of the era in which he would have liked to have competed?
“Having only raced from 2000 onwards, I have only raced F1 cars that were safe – [but] if you had the same safety standards in the '70s or '80s, I would choose these decades for the spirit,” he reflected, going on to advocate 'less aerodynamics and more mechanical grip' and – like Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber [see separate story – click here
] – the return of refuelling. “It was fantastic to race with low-fuelled cars, just awesome. We all like to race light cars, and refuelling with its sophisticated strategies added to the spectacle.
“I never liked these cars so overdone with electronics. I like a loud and fast engine – I would probably opt for bringing back the V10 engines. 850 horsepower – that was quite something! That is, though, of course, the viewpoint of a passionate racer. I am aware that we have to look the environmental way – to show that we care – so I think F1 is going in the right direction with the smaller engines, but of course, the petrol-head within me still fancies the big engines.”
Button quips that 'if I would fit in it, I would love to drive the [McLaren-Honda] MP4-4' – a contender that astonishingly triumphed in 15 of the 16 grands prix during the 1988 F1 campaign and that he describes as 'a hell of a car'. As to its two drivers, F1 legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, he adds that 'I saw them when I was very young and I will never get tired of watching them over and over again', whilst of the current crop, the Briton rates Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Force India rookie di Resta as his ideal line-up.
Moving onto the subject of circuits, the 2009 world champion reveals that he would love the opportunity to race around 'the super-hip Roppongi area' of Tokyo, whilst his favourite two tracks presently on the calendar are Suzuka and Spa-Francorchamps. If he could add one venue onto the schedule, meanwhile, he would choose – again like Webber – Imola, scene of 'fond memories' having annexed his maiden pole position there with BAR-Honda back in 2004. And his perfect 'jigsaw' circuit?
“It would definitely [include] Becketts [at Silverstone] and Eau Rouge [at Spa], even if it's not a real corner anymore – they've made it too easy with their modifications,” he ponders. “My track would probably have a lot of Silverstone parts – we all love high-speed corners. Okay, I would also add some Suzuka parts.”
And how, finally, would Jenson Button celebrate were he to succeed in repeating his top flight title triumph of two season ago?
“I would immediately go to Hawaii,” he responds. “I spend quite some time there. I'd go to a Japanese restaurant and drink sake – my favourite drink – or probably a dirty dry Martini.”
James Hunt would doubtless approve.