Jenson Button will become only the fifth driver in history to rack up 250 Formula One races on Sunday, but the 2009 world champion insists he is still learning his trade.
The 34-year-old Briton follows Rubens Barrichello (326 races), Michael Schumacher (308), Riccardo Patrese (257) and Jarno Trulli (256) into Formula One’s long service club with no sign of his powers declining with age.
After two races of the 2014 season, finishing third in Australia and sixth in Malaysia, Button says the secret to his longevity is to watch, listen and learn.
“I’m definitely not the perfect driver yet, and I never will be, but there is always still more to learn. That’s something, for me, that’s exciting about the sport.”
Button started his F1 career with Williams in 2000 before switching to Benetton, Renault, Honda, Brawn (now Mercedes), where he won his world title, and then McLaren.
“The thing that surprises me is how quickly it goes by. Fifty races ago I was in Hungary, celebrating my 200th grand prix, which I won by the way,” he said on Thursday.
“You really do have to enjoy every moment of it as much as you can.”
Button stands fourth in the championship ahead of this weekend’s third round in Bahrain.
The dusty Sakhir track was the site of one of his 15 career wins, achieved in 2009.
His first career win — in a Honda at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix — remains a standout memory.
But whatever happens in the rest of his career, Button says his relationship with his father, who died in January at the gae of 70, will always keep him motivated.
“The nicest thing anyone ever said to me came from my dad. He said: ‘You might not be the quickest driver in the world, but you’re the best.’ Those words meant a lot, and they still do.”