Button to join exclusive club with Hungary F1 milestone

Jenson Button is convinced he will be in Formula 1 for many years to come despite experiencing “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the sport.

On the occasion of his 200th race in Hungary this weekend, there is every chance Button could comfortably go beyond 300, a mark at present only achieved by Rubens Barrichello who has raced in 314.

Michael Schumacher is poised to join the Brazilian at some stage in 2012 if he sees out his current three-year contract with Mercedes.

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Jarno Trulli is also on his way, but is 53 grands prix shy, which means at the age of 37 the Italian will have to continue until he is 40 to hit the 300 mark.

In contrast, aged just 31, Button is by far the youngest to take up residence of the exclusive ‘200 club’, in which there are only 10 members at present.

Barrichello, Schumacher, Riccardo Patrese, David Coulthard, Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Gerhard Berger, Andrea de Cesaris, Nelson Piquet and Jean Alesi are the others to have reached the milestone.

With time on his side, and with his appetite far from waning, there is every chance McLaren star Button could compete in 300 races and beyond.

“I could do 300, then I’d be second on the list, potentially. That’s scary,” Button said. “I’m not so good at looking too far ahead because it’s nice to be in control of my future.

“So tieing myself down to say I’ll be around in another five years is the wrong thing to do.

“But I’m sure there will be many more years when I’m enjoying the sport, enjoying the racing.”

As for his ‘spaghetti western’ of a career, Button added: “There have been a few good ones, but a lot of bad ones as well.

“The good ones are obvious. They’re the ones when I’ve got a smile on my face and I’m lifting a trophy above my head.

“There have also been many races in my career when I’ve been in a car not capable of winning, but I’ve still had a great race, a lot of fun doing it.

“So I’ve enjoyed most of my career in F1, even when I’ve not been in a car that’s quick.

“But then there have been bad times when you’ve had incidents, or you’ve hurt yourself and you’ve reliability issues, and those ones are not so much fun. The ugly was probably Monaco in 2003, when I went into the wall in qualifying wondering what the hell was going on. That was not great at all.”

Following yesterday’s two practice sessions, Button was third quickest behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, with the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel fourth and fifth.

The BBC will scale back their Formula 1 coverage next season with Sky Sports awarded the rights to show every race live, from 2012 to 2018.

There had been speculation the BBC would pull out of the sport altogether for financial reasons but they will still show half the races and qualifying sessions live, including the British and Monaco Grands Prix, and cover the others via a highlights programme.

Sky will double up on the races shown by the BBC and also screen the others exclusively live. BBC Radio Five Live’s coverage remains unchanged.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”