JENSON BUTTON: LIVING IN THE FASTLANE

Text Marko Knab
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Photos HACKETT
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01/12/2022
In 2009 Jenson Button won the world championship, in 2017 he ended his Formula 1 career - but that doesn't mean that speed no longer plays a role in his life. On the contrary.

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“Mr Button, you are a busy man. What projects are you currently working on?” “I never thought my life would stay so hectic after Formula 1, but I have more to do than before: I’m a presenter for Formula 1 and a brand ambassador for the Williams team, as well as a brand ambassador for the fashion brand Hackett. And I have my own car brand. It’s a vehicle manufacturing company called Radford, with which we do classic coachbuilding. That means we build customised vehicles based on a series chassis according to the customer’s wishes. I also founded my own whisky brand called Coachbuilt. So you can see I’m pretty busy. It’s also the case that I also have a private life with my wonderful wife and two children.”

“Are you now catching up on something you didn’t have time for before?”

“Yes, before, Formula 1 was my purpose in life. Sure, you don’t have to feel sorry for any racing driver in Formula 1, it’s one of the best jobs there is – but it eats you up. You forget about the outside world at some point, everything revolves around racing. You have a manager, a PR assistant, a personal assistant, the bills get paid, your flights get booked – and what you eat is decided by your physio. You never grow up in that little world and you leave it at exactly the age you entered it. When I finished my Formula 1 career, I learned how to pay bills. I know how stupid that sounds.”

JENSON BUTTON LIVING IN THE FASTLANEAUFMACHER BILD 1 jenson button

“You used to race for the world championship, what drives you today?”

“I love new challenges, there have been a few of those in the past, but the effort has always been worth it. The people I work with now – whether it’s at Radford or Coachbuilt Whisky – tick like me. They are all people who are passionate about what they do.”

“It doesn’t sound like you miss motorsport.”

“You know, I raced so many times and I still do. The reason why I ended my Formula 1 career was because I wanted to try other things and race in other series. I’m not just a Formula 1 driver, I’m just a racing driver. During the years in Japan, for example, I won the Super GT championship, I raced in Le Mans – which didn’t go so well but was very educational – and I just signed for a season in nitro rallycross. Ten races around the world, electric cars with 1,000 hp and four-wheel drive, lots of jumps and everything on loose surfaces. So it’s the complete opposite of Formula One.”

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“How do you experience Formula 1 at the moment?”

“Last season was one of the most attractive ever in terms of sport. Everyone thought it would be a kind of interim year with the new rules, but they immediately had a positive effect on racing. The races are closer, the cars can follow each other more easily. Overtaking without DRS remains difficult, but if one driver makes a mistake, the other can now overtake more easily. The cars look better, you also get more of the personality of the drivers because you see them outside the cars. It was different when I was in Formula 1. We were kids driving for big teams and sponsors and we had to be extremely careful how we behaved in front of the camera. Now it’s much more relaxed. It’s nice to have two teams fighting for victory at the top. Hopefully Mercedes will join them at some point. Formula 1 is expanding right now, especially here in the US. But above all, the racing has to be good – and it is.”

“What do you think about the expansion of the racing series? After all, it’s been criticised in terms of the full calendar.”

“You know, I really love the sport, but I wouldn’t want to race in Formula 1 anymore. 22 or 23 races a year is just insane because it’s so hard, not only physically but also mentally. You have to find the right attitude before each race. You pay a price for that, I realised that at some point too, if I’m honest.”

“What was it like to drop out then?”

“The first few years were already difficult. Racing in Japan was fun, and I had my girlfriend and later wife, but I didn’t know where I was going professionally. But when it started with Radford Motors, I thought, wow, I can really get involved here, I can develop something that I enjoy.”

JENSON BUTTON LIVING IN THE FASTLANEAUFMACHER BILD 2 jenson button

“What other function do you have at Radford Motors? Are you a test driver?”

“As a matter of fact, I test, yes. I develop the vehicle based on the Lotus Evora so that customers can later drive it themselves and, above all, enjoy it.”

“With your long-standing connections to car manufacturers, surely you could have designed your own special model there too. Why did you decide to go your own way with Radford?”

“Because I want to do something special with the cars. Sure, you can go to a manufacturer and have your supercar painted in a special colour for crazy money. With us it’s a bit different: you want the air intakes on the side to be shaped differently? No problem. You don’t like the front, you need different lights or different rear wings? That’s not an issue either. That’s what coachbuilding is all about.”

JENSON BUTTON LIVING IN THE FASTLANEAUFMACHER BILD 3 jenson button

Radford Type 62-2. Credit: Radford Motors

“How does that work specifically?”

“It’s a question of time and money, including the interior. If someone wants a single-seater, we’ll set that up. Even a big V8 engine is not an obstacle. That’s why I find coachbuilding exciting, and it’s also why it did so well in the 1940s to 1960s: You’d order a chassis from Rolls-Royce or Bentley and you could have a bespoke car built by Mulliner, Radford or Cooper.”

“What does luxury mean to you?”

“Not an easy question, it’s a wide field. But for me luxury means something like individuality, that is, having something that others don’t have like that.”

JENSON BUTTON LIVING IN THE FASTLANEAUFMACHER BILD 4 jenson button

“Let’s talk about fashion: Hackett and Jenson Button, how does that fit together?”

“You know, I’m British – and I like the idea of appearing as a gentleman. Or at least thinking that I am one! (laughs) I love dressing well, wearing a nice suit and appearing smart. I believe that a good suit gives a man confidence – and an ill-fitting suit, in turn, can damage confidence.”

“Surely you can tell us what makes classic British style?”

“It’s the small but fine details. Something like cufflinks – or shoes. In my opinion, an outfit stands or falls with the shoes.”

“But you probably don’t wear a suit all the time.”

“No, I fly a lot and need comfortable clothes like tracksuits, and Hackett has a collection there too. The stuff is incredibly comfortable. What’s added: I have to change all the time. Do you have children? If you have any, you know that chocolate or milk or whatever ends up on the clothes every hour. For some reason my kids like to eat up half the garden and … well like I said, I’m constantly changing.”

Source: https://ramp.space/post/jenson-button-living-in-the-fastlaneGO SIXT

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