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Button driven by triathlon successes

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 17, 2012

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FORMULA ONE

When most ordinary people go on holiday they tend to take in some sun and put their feet up – but not Jenson Button.

For Button, that is far from his idea of relaxation as instead he prefers to put himself through the pain barrier by competing in a triathlon.

No longer is it a hobby, as it started out in 2008 at a time when his Formula One career, as he puts it, "wasn't really going that well".

Then with Honda, who had floundered for a few years before pulling out of the sport altogether at the end of 2008, Button turned to triathlon "as a release", a form of escapism to reinvigorate his life.

But given the competitive nature of the 32-year-old, the desire to improve, he has now reached such a standard that last week he qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Las Vegas next month.

If you were inspired by watching the Brownlee brothers in action – Alistair and Jonathan – during the Olympics, an ironman event is another step further, incorporating a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride followed by a 13-mile half-marathon. Obviously not for the faint hearted.

Sadly for Button, after finishing third in his age group in a qualifying event in the Philippines – two of his close friends were first and fourth – he is unable to compete in the event in Vegas as the Italian Grand Prix gets in the way.

But as far as Button is concerned, the two events – F1 and triathlon – fit hand in glove.

"When I took up triathlon I knew if I trained hard for it then I could succeed," said Button. "I really got into it, I got hooked. I just love the sport, and over the years I've become more competitive.

"But for me, most of it is to improve my physical fitness, which in turn helps mentally when I jump into an F1 car – it really makes a difference."

At least McLaren allow Button to indulge in his passion, rather than imposing unnecessary contractual restrictions on his free time.

Naturally, there are limits, but despite the physical agony of a triathlon, McLaren can see the benefits as a fitter Button, both mentally and physically, has a better chance of producing strong results.

Button added: "The team know I love doing triathlons and that it makes me a better driver and a better person. They're very understanding."

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