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Square Mile Moments

Jenson Button: "Dad's words stuck with me throughout my career"

 Welcome to Square Mile Moments – a new podcast series in which guests talk about the moments that forged their lives and careers. First up, former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button

Jenson Button for Hackett

Jenson Button's father thought his son was asleep. The family were driving back from Scotland after a teenage Jenson had driven badly in the weekend's race.

"I just don't think he's got it," said Button Senior to his wife – words overheard by his son in the backseat.  

"They really hurt," recalls Button. "They stuck with me all the way through my career until I won the World Championship in 2009." Only then did he tell his father about the overheard conversation all those years ago. 

It's one of a number of life-defining moments that Button shares on our new podcast with actor Louis Strong. Listen to the full episode below and read some edited excerpts to whet your appetite.

"Those words from my father really hit home... They really hurt"

There was a moment with my father when I was 13. I was racing up in Scotland and we had a really bad weekend: I wasn't quick, I wasn't driving well. Finished near the back. On the way home, he was with my stepmum in the front of the transit van we had. He thought I was asleep behind. He looked at her and said, 'I just don't think he's got it.' Those words really hit home... They really hurt. They stuck with me all the way through my career until I won the World Championship in 2009. That weekend I told him that I heard him say that. Which broke his heart, but I had to tell him.

"Why?" said my mate Richie. "Just because you're shit?"

I remember in 2005, I qualified on pole in Canada. I had one of my best buddies there, Richie, a massive supporter all the way through my career. On race day, I put it in the wall. I was running in third, Michael Schumacher pushing me, and I made a mistake, put it in the world. I came back in the pits, walked past Richie and said, 'you're never coming again!' He looked at me and said, 'What? Just because you're shit?' That's what I needed through my career – I needed my mates to help me realise that I'm really bloody lucky to be doing what I'm doing.

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"My final three years in F1 didn't mean anything because dad wasn't there"

My dad passed away at the start of 2014. He was always there, every single one of my races. After that moment I spent another three years in F1 but it didn't mean anything to me because he wasn't there. It was weird, every time I got out of the car I used to look for him and obviously he wasn't there. At the end of 2014, I wanted to retire and my mates said, 'just do one more year.'... In 2016, three races in and realised, 'this is it.' It was definitely the right timing. A lot of people say drivers leave too early and they regret it. They want to come back. I didn't.

"The night I won the world championship, I left the party super-early"

It was tough time! People will go, 'what? You're F1 world champion, the dream of every driver!' That evening I won the championship, I spent a bit of the time, congratulating everyone, and I left the party super-early and went back my hotel room. I sat in my room on my own for a couple of hours, just going through the process of my career from an early age.

"I never really made friends"

In my career, I really didn't trust many people because I was hurt quite badly by the British media at times. As a young 20 year old, I did have a lot of fun. I worked hard but I had a lot of fun as well. I was a very truthful person – I didn't hold back on things. It kind of got me into trouble with the British media. They always had an angle that I didn't realise. I thought it was just being chummy... So from then on, I had my friend group and I wouldn't let anyone else in. I never really made friends. My wife says, 'you're terrible at meeting new people!'

Get Jenson's Coachbuilt Whisky here and listen to Louis's Headstrong podcast here.

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