Jenson Button has returned to the team he started his Formula 1 career with by signing as a senior advisor at Williams.
The British driver made his F1 debut with Williams in 2000, impressing in his rookie season before being loaned to Benetton after Williams was able to secure the services of Juan Pablo Montoya. Despite twice being involved in contract disputes surrounding a potential return to Williams he never raced for the team again, but now some four years after his final season in F1 the 2009 world champion will provide advice and guidance to his first team.
“I am so delighted to once again be able to say that I’ve signed for Williams,” Button said. “Back when I was 19 it was a moment that changed my life and, despite the fact it was over 20 years ago, I already feel like I never really left.
“Sir Frank Williams showed faith in me, which I will be eternally grateful for and I am incredibly excited to have the chance to come back and help the team as it strives once more for success. There’s a lot of hard work to be done but I have no doubt the future is incredibly bright for this fantastic team and I can’t wait to get started.”
Williams is no longer owned by Sir Frank’s family following a takeover by Dorilton Capital last year, but Button will be part of a management evolution that also sees Jost Capito — who he briefly worked with at McLaren — becoming CEO of Williams Racing.
Since retiring from F1, Button has raced in various categories but also become a team owner and co-founded the Leger cycling clothing business as well as becoming involved in the return of Radford Coachbuilders. Button will use his experience to support and develop the race and academy drivers, but Capito says the ventures that the 41-year-old has tackled since leaving F1 mean he is able to have a wider influence on the Williams business.
“Bringing Jenson back on board is another positive step to help us move forward as a team both on and off track,” Capito said. “Jenson has always been a friend of the team and so it is great to welcome him back into the Williams family. Back in 2000, Sir Frank saw the promising talent Jenson had as a driver and gave him his first opportunity in F1. He more than fulfilled that initial promise throughout a glittering career that culminated in world championship glory.
“More recently, he has shown his acumen in both the business and broadcasting worlds and remains a widely respected figure in the paddock. All this experience will add another layer to our transformation both technically and as a business. I know everyone at Grove has huge respect for him and we’re delighted to start working with him.”
Button will attend a number of races with Williams in his new role, but will also continue as a regular pundit on Sky Sports’ F1 coverage.