"I think Button's career and his performances have been jo-joing quite a lot.
It was as obvious as a dogs dangly bits that he had immense talent when he entered the sport in '00, more or less matching Ralf Schumacher and even out-qualifying him on the drivers-tracks.
In '01 and '02 I believe the F1-lifestyle got in the way of concentrating on his own performance, and that coupled with a difficult car sort of "prevented" him from showing the big jump in performance all drivers have from the rookie season to the second season. Button poured cold water over himself some time into the '02-season and again it was evident he had real talent, as he pushed and sometimes beat Trulli.
He built on that in '03 when he joined B.A.R and got all the attention from Richards. That put him in a comfy environment and he really maximised his potential I think. However I've always maintained that he was a bit flattered but the hopeless situation Villeneuve found himself in, as I'm sure the atmosphere he experienced put a stoppage to him extracting everything from himself. This is sports phsycolgy and it's fantasy thinking it doesn't come into the picture in F1 as well.
'04 was a great season and yes, there were whispers in the paddock about an interest from Ferrari. Overall I think he performed fantastically, but was surprised to learn a year or two later that "rival team engineers had put the numbers and parametres into their sims and concluded that Button should have won atleast one or perhaps two races that year". Button absolutely smashed Sato but ironically it was Sato who came closest to winning a race that year, the US GP but the team pitted him at the wrong moment and denied him the top step of the podium.
'05 was when Button showed himself as a very, very good one-lap qualifier, and he once again had a really good season.
'06 came the first win and not surprisingly it came in the wet.
The seasons coupled with Barrichello was on average pretty one-sided I think. Button always performed better than Barrichello by a healthy margin even if he got fewer points on the table in one season. (I put the average margin to the Schumacher-fans, saying Button's advantage on Barrichello is very close to what Schumacher had. Are they (almost) as good/fast? -they didn't like that, but in all fairness I've always said that cross comparing over different seasons and teams doesn't work. It is or could be a pointer though.)
Quite accurate analysis on his early years.
The idea of Button should have won races in 2004 has come up several times before, and my question to that is 'Which races are they talking about then?'. I'm not impressed by rival team engineers fiddling about with some numbers. Really not. At no point in the season, BAR looked like the quickest car. Button didn't ruin any chances himself by mistakes either.
Also I can't remember Sato being close to winning at the US GP. As at most of the races, Ferrari was dominant and Sato wasn't going to break that. It was his only podium compared to Buttons' 10. I'm sure one of those was closer to a win than Sato's race at Indianapolis. Plus, Button retired right behind him with a gearbox failure.
I wouldn't say the fight with Barrichello was one-sided either. Only in 2006 he really outclassed him by scoring almost double the amount of points. In that season he beat him Schumi-style. In 2007/2008 though they were evenly matched and in 2009 he was only a little ahead.
And I don't know exactly at who you're aiming your last sentence at.
Oh, the last sentence isn't aimed at you, it's just that I've seen that some seem to celebrate Button beating Hamilton already.
I think it was B.A.R's dodgy pit stop-call that prevented Sato from any chance of winning the '04 US GP. I can imagine Hockenheim may've been a race where rival engineers concluded the pace was there, but I assume they didn't count that as one of the two tracks, 'cause Button had to fight from the back there. Maybe Imola was one?
I disagree about Button v Barrichello. It was Button all the way in some seasons and last year was from from even. As has been said before, Barrichello was way off when Button won six races at the beginning of the season.
I can remember Schumacher leading with the BAR's behind him. At a safety car, Schumacher pitted, still stayed in the lead, and thereby the BAR's had no chance for the victory. Or am I wrong there? Can't exactly remember. I don't think Sato had a big chance of winning anyway. If anything, he had to pass Schumacher directly on track. Would have been quite a challenge. Button retired with a broken gearbox somewhere halfway though.
Button's best chance perhaps was Imola indeed, but the only reason he got that pole was because Schumacher made a mistake in his qualy lap. Ferrari was quicker, it was obvious and no surprise Schumacher won there.
Other races.. no idea, Monaco he got 2nd but the Renault's were dominating.
In Brazil he looked like having a chance but retired in early stages with an engine problem.
For the rest.. I really don't know.
Edited by D.M.N., 14 June 2012 - 21:58.