Jenson Button: "Alain Prost made the biggest difference to my career"
Jenson Button talks his footwear collaboration with Duke + Dexter, his retirement regrets and the inspirational Alain Prost in this turbo-charged Lockdown Life
Jenson Button was always a smooth operator on the track.
Now the former world champion has moved into fashion by collaborating with British shoe brand Duke + Dexter.
Looking like a maths equation you'd actually want to solve, Duke + Dexter x Jenson Button is an eclectic collection of styles, with special touches inspired by Button himself.
Once lockdown is over, you know what you're wearing on your feet.
We caught up with Button – never easy with a racing driver... – to discuss life and lockdown.
What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?
My collaboration with Duke + Dexter! It's great working with a great British brand, especially a great British shoe brand.
It's always fun doing collaborations because people have great ideas from two different walks of life.
Bringing those ideas and producing something that's fun, and hopefully something that people love and want to wear for every occasion.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Winning the world championship – that was always the dream as a kid!
Others ones that really stand out... First of all, winning the European championship in karting, which sounds crazy to most, I'm sure, but it's such a competitive level.
And then when I was announced as a Formula 1 driver. Very special moment, from Frank Williams telling me that I was going to be an F1 driver – it wasn't just a dream, it was a reality!
First win was great, 2006, but the moment that really stands out is when I clinched the world title in Brazil in 2009 and I could call myself a world champion.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I can't go back, but in hindsight I probably could have raced in Formula 1 for longer.
Luckily my friends all told me that I should continue for another year when I wanted to retire in 2014 – and I did that for three years and then decided to retire in 2016.
It was the right time to retire because my mind wasn't in it but I think having time out of the sport for a year would have been a thing, then going back and just seeing how I fared. I probably should have given it a go because I had opportunities but I didn't act on them.
What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?
Winning Le Mans. Easy.
Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?
In terms of driving it would be Alain Prost. I met Alain for the first time in 1999 – can't believe that's 21 years ago!
He gave me the opportunity to have a proper test in a Formula 1 car. Previously to that, I had driven a McLaren as part of an award but it was 15 laps around the national circuit at Silverstone. He gave me the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car.
He was my hero at the time. He'd won four world championships in F1 and I really liked the way that he drove. That for me was the style that I felt that I had – trying to be as smooth and precise as possible.
He probably made the biggest difference to my career.
Tell us something nobody knows about you…
I love medium-roast coffee. Single origin, medium roast coffee.
How are you finding lockdown?
Fine! For me, it's a weird one because I love what I do in terms of the punditry and I love driving, obviously, miss that a lot. But I'm getting to spend so much time at home with the family.
There are always negatives to every situation, and there are a lot with the pandemic, but there are positives that you have to try and take from it.
Best thing about lockdown?
See above! My little guy is only ten months old so spending time with him at this age is pretty awesome. Seeing him change, seeing him learn new skills, and seeing him drag around the house and play with the dogs.
Worst thing about lockdown?
Missing the F1 season massively.
Top tip for surviving lockdown?
Just say yes to everything! And you also need a bit of alone-time now and again.
For me, that's my simulator. I built a simulator, took me a week to build! I bought every single part, all the best bits I could, and built it myself!
Online racing has been a massive part of a racing driver's life at the moment. For me, it's a moment to get away and be with my thoughts.
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is over?
Grabbing a beer with my mates!
I'm lucky enough that I can go into the desert and drive, but when you can go to a really nice restaurant or bar and have a beer with your mates and talk shit... That's a while away to be fair!
For more info, see Duke + Dexter