With all the pre-season management shuffling inside Mercedes GP and Jenson Button topping the early recent Jerez testing times, I couldn’t help myself from re-reading Jenson Button’s review of his own 2009 world championship title with (the pre-Mercedes) Brawn GP in his book “My Championship Year“. I always prefer to read books written (or even ghost written) by the drivers themselves because of the better insights they can give to the reader. Whilst Jenson’s book is not an autobiography, I think its actually one of the better driver books that have been published – Jenson provides a surprisingly very honest and personal behind the scenes details of his roller coaster 2009 season from the pre-season Honda withdrawal, testing, the fairy tale early season wins, mid-season wobbles to wrapping up his maiden world championship in Brazil.
My Championship Year is set out in a diary style format with a magazine layout, although some of the layout and fonts sometimes seem to change too much. The early chapters of the book deals with the pre-season shock of dealing with Honda’s withdrawal, Ross Brawn buyout, testing and heading to Australia for the team’s first race. Each race chapter includes Jenson’s past results, circuit diagram and diary type entries of Thursday- Friday practice, qualifying, the race (qualifying and final positions) and post-race activities. Also included are SMS text extracts from Jenson’s family, friends and others which gives the book a much more personal touch. To cap it off, Ross Brawn writes the opening foreword to the book.
One area that Jenson’s book seems to dodge are the more edgy or controversial issues – like the mid-season team tensions with Rubens (or maybe this was really a media beat-up?) and team orders, etc. It seems a very nice, friendly politically correct book – as all the fans know, F1 business is a little more mercenary and ruthless, and sometimes you want to read about the back stabbing and blood stained carpet. Maybe Jenson could have also talked about his contract clauses to be given a BGP 001 chassis if he won the title….
There are plenty of color photos mainly from LAT Photographic and in the race chapters contains thumbnail photos of personal, team and track action shots. There are no large double page spread photos with the largest photos taking up full single pages.
The book also contains quite a lot of narrative (in small fonts) so you’re unlikely to finish this book in one sitting (unlike other recent driver books, like Mark Webber’s Up Front or Lewis Hamilton’s My Story). The narration is also very personalised and seems consistent with how Jenson sounds in media interviews, so some of the private stories and race tidbits during the season are surprisingly refreshing to read. Make no mistake though, this book is not for pure F1 technical boffins.
The big question is do you need to be Jenson Button fan (I’m neutral) to enjoy this book? – the answer is probably not. There is enough behind the scenes commentary here for even the average F1 but non-Jenson fan to get some reading enjoyment.
Wow Factor or Money shot: The book includes a lot of quotes and SMS texts Jenson received during the 2009 races – so its a very personal insight (if you like that kind of stuff rather than hard core engineering or team politics story telling).
Suitable for: Easy reading for casual F1 fans (and Jenson fans, of course)
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