The opening race winner in five of the last six Formula One seasons has gone on to win the Drivers’ Championship, but Australian Grand Prix victory has proven a painful false dawn rather than a lucky omen for Jenson Button this year.
Little did the 2009 champion realise that, rather than building the momentum to piece together an unassailable early lead, he was starting a unique sequence of seven winners in seven races.
By the time that barmy pattern was ended by Fernando Alonso in Valencia last week, enough drivers had been afforded a moment in the spotlight to leave Button a lowly eighth in the overall standings, with 49 points to Alonso’s 111.
A case could easily be presented for last year being the most impressive of Button’s career, even more so than his title-winning campaign in which the Brawn cars were so clearly superior to the field that it was harder to fail.
By coming second to Sebastian Vettel in 2011, he hushed all those who questioned his move to McLaren, becoming the first ever team-mate to outperform Lewis Hamilton and outshining the Red Bull of Mark Webber too.
The rule changes over the winter to erode Red Bull’s advantage and that opening weekend triumph suggested that this would be the year in which Button was rewarded for that.
Instead, he has toiled with his McLaren while a refocused Hamilton – albeit scuppered by numerous team errors – has flourished.
Button hasn’t been on the podium since finishing third in China, his only two points finishes in the ensuing five races pocketing four or fewer, eighth place in Valencia shockingly marking his third-best result of 2012.
The usually cool customer has struggled to mask his frustration, and it all appears to augur terribly for his home race at Silverstone, where his record is notoriously disappointing.
The 32-year-old was a semi-regular point poacher there while emerging yet has underperformed over the last six, retiring three times in that period and never finishing above fourth, a first British Grand Prix podium remaining elusive.
Silverstone doesn’t always respect form though. Just six of the last 18 winners went on to claim the Drivers’ Championship, so perhaps it isn’t unthinkable that his miserable season will be lit up by that long-awaited moment of domestic delight.
Button, a 40/1 outsider for the title already, is 16/1 to win the British Grand Prix next Sunday and 7/2 to end finally make it onto the Silverstone podium.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.