Jenson Button: when Dad said ‘I don’t think he’s got it’

Columns: Editorials
There is a passage in the Disney+ miniseries on the epic story of Brawn GP and Jenson Button's 2009 World Championship that holds significance for every kart racer contemplating a professional path. (ls)

On the Disney+ platform, there is a 4-episode miniseries narrating the incredible 2009 season of Brawn GP, led by Ross Brawn. Emerging from the ashes of Team Honda, which left Formula 1 at the end of 2008 due to the global financial crisis, Brawn GP, with a visionary aerodynamic project and strong team cohesion, achieves the impossible feat of winning the Formula 1 World Championship.

hough it feels like ages ago, and such stories may never repeat (considering that the team is now the AMG Mercedes of Toto Wolff), there are elements that, due to the evolution of things in this world, may never repeat as well. For instance, Jenson Button's karting story with his father John, frequently referenced in the series, resonates with kart racers and their fathers today. At one point, Jenson recounts in an interview with Keanu Reeves (the documentary producer) about his father, who, thinking Jenson was asleep in the back seat of the van, confesses to Jenson's stepmother: «I don't think he’s got it. I don’t think he’s got that exytra bit that he needs. I am putting a lot of money into this (karting) and money we don’t have.»
Jenson Button says that hearing those words from his father stirred something in him, defining it as one of the key moments in his career — a career that eventually led him to a Formula 1 World Championship.

The point is, that moment is present in the story of every youngster embarking on this path with the aim of 'making it to the top.' Karting can be a wonderful sport to practice until the age of 50 or a nightmare to end by 15, often depending on who your father is. We know for sure that kart tracks are not filled with new Max Verstappens or Michael Schumachers, but we also know that not all fathers are John Button.

In several countries, some sports for the youngest prioritize psychophysical development, the acquisition of maturity, and not results, which may not even be published in newspapers, online, or on social media. In karting, we know it's a bit outside the rules of this kind, and the pressure on children is very high from the start: the words of a World Champion and the account of how those years were lived by people like him, who later reached such high levels, are further evidence that it is not wrong to wonder sometimes whether it is worth continuing to invest in karting careers for young drivers who may have other vocations—for the sake of both the youngsters and family finances.

Some 'arrive and drive' formulas for Mini classes, designed specifically to help families understand if karting is the right sport for the child before compromising financially, already exist or are about to start in Italy and several European countries. The path of "professional" Minikart racing, criticized by many but, in fact, always there every year, continues to spark discussions and seems increasingly close to a crossroads where decisions must be made about its future, given that the entire credibility of karting is in question.

Created by: fmarangon2 - 04/01/24

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