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TKART magazine VIP & Kart | Jenson Button: “A gentleman… with balls”
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Mattia Livraghi
16 January 2023 • 11 min. read
The Englishman was a boy with an angelic face, tall, slim and always correct, even on the track. With the competitive ferocity, however, that only great champions have. Here is the unfiltered story of Jose, his mechanic at the time of karting, who reveals some unpublished aspects about the F1 world champion
A few words are enough for Graziano Cerino, founder and owner of Tecno, the historic kart manufacturer, to share his thoughts on Jenson Button, as he knew him in his karting days: "He had the talent, as an individual, but all of us were very close-knit and so it worked”. Among these close-knit people there is also Jose Pecora, still today part of the Tecno staff, at the time a mechanic of the English driver. In the 2009 F1 the world champion faced his journey in international karting on board the chassis built by the Italian manufacturer and was pat of the GKS team, led by the owner of the Genk track Paul Lemmens: “Besides having a well-structured team , Lemmens prepared the engines, while we supplied the chassis,” explains Jose. “Because Jenson was very gifted, although he didn't have any money, we came together to help him”. Jenson Button's show on the karting world stage started in this way, with a group of professionals who noticed him, recognized something special in him and decided to support him. “I saw him for the first time during a day of testing in Genk, Jose tells us, who continues, I was impressed because he was extremely constant, like a jackhammer. His lap times were always within the same hundredth of a second.” An expert mechanic like Jose easily understood the driver he had in front of him and confirmation came from their first races together: “Moving from Junior to Formula A (the Senior class in single-speed karting at the time, with 100 cc engines) he came second in the world championship in Valence (in 1995, won by Gustao Fraguas, editor's note). He could have won, but he had rightly calculated that it was better to be runner-up rather than withdraw, considering that the track was very narrow and therefore you had to take risks to overtake".
Jenson Button driving his Wright kart (number 99) on a circuit in England in the early 1990s.
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Button leaning on his Tecno kart (number 128) before taking to the track for a European championship race in 1995, flanked by Toshiya Kawahara, the other mechanic who assisted him in the GKS team together with Jose Pecora.
Button driving his Rotax powered Tecno kart (number 189) in 1996.
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Button (left) next to his Tecno kart (number 43), under the tent together with Graziano Cerino (centre).
Button driving his Rotax-powered Tecno kart (number 7) in 1997, during the formation lap of a Formula Super A race.
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Button (left) on the track with his mechanic Jose (right) in 1997, during a race in the European Formula Super A championship.
Born in England in 1980, Jenson Button began competing in karts as a child and was a protagonist on the British scene, so much so that he won the IAME Super 1 National Cadet Championship in 1991. He arrived on the international scene with Paul Lemmens' GKS team and, on board the Techno chassis powered by Rotax, achieved several successes. In 1995 he was runner-up in the world in Formula A and in 1997 he became the youngest driver to win the European title in Formula Super A, the premier class of single-speed karting. He made his single-seater debut in 1998 and, after doing well in both Formula Ford and F3, he made his F1 debut in 2000. He became world champion in 2009, at the wheel of the Brawn GP, and disputed his last full season in 2016. After having also been part of Williams, Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda and McLaren in the top motoring series, he continued to compete in other classes and in 2021 he took on the role of Williams consultant.
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