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Jenson Button seeks win at second home

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Sarah Holt | 07:40 UK time, Saturday, 8 October 2011

Jenson Button arrived in Japan as the last man standing in the fight to stop Sebastian Vettel winning the 2011 title.

To keep his title hopes alive, the McLaren driver has to win this weekend and hope Red Bull's championship leader fails to score a single point.

It is a task almost certainly doomed to fail and Button joked in Suzuka that Vettel was the only person still saying he had a chance to steal a second title from under his nose.

Vettel, who is seeking a third straight pole-to-flag victory in Japan, is the favourite this weekend after taking a mind-boggling 12th pole of the season in Suzuka, but Button lines up second after two days in which McLaren have looked surprisingly competitive.

Button's hopes of victory are very real and, regardless of the championship situation, the 2009 champion has both professional and personal reasons to want to perform well on Sunday.

The day after stepping off the plane from Singapore, where he finished second, Button and his race engineer Dave Robson got to work plotting how to win for the first time at Suzuka.

"I've always loved racing here," Button, whose best finish in Suzuka is third for Honda in 2004, told BBC Sport. "It would mean a lot to me to win here.

"The first year I came here was in 1996 when I raced karts and that was an unbelievable circuit, like the F1 track. Then the first time I came here in Formula 1 in 2000, I qualified fifth and I've finished every year I raced here in Suzuka.

"It's a very special race - I remember watching Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost racing round here wheel-to-wheel - and it does feel like a second home race for me."

Jessica Michibata and Jenson Button

Button has been dating Japanese-born Jessica Michibata for three years. Photo: Reuters

McLaren also want Button, or team-mate Lewis Hamilton, to finish as runner-up in the championship and are determined to hold off Ferrari to finish a more lucrative second in the team standings.

With five races left to go, Button leads a compelling battle for second from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber, and is 17 points ahead of Hamilton.

Beyond points and position, Button, a former Honda driver, is also driven by emotional incentives, not least that he is dating Japanese-born model Jessica Michibata.

"I have a lot of very good connections," said Button, who has in Japanese kanji symbols 'Ichi Ban' - which translates as number one - inked onto his ankle.

"I worked with a Japanese team for seven years, I've had a Japanese girlfriend for the last three and I love this place. I spend a lot of time here in Japan, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I've just been down the coast to a fishing port that has the most amazing sushi.

"I really enjoy the Japanese culture, the food and how respectful the people are and how they welcome other people in. The karaoke is great too - my missus would go to karaoke during the day if she had an hour free, which seems strange to us in Britain!"

In March, while Button was testing in Spain, Michibata was sheltering under a table as an earthquake shook Tokyo.

The after-effects of the tsunami and earthquake, which devastated many coastal parts of island country and killed more than 15,000 people, is another reason why Button wants to race well in front of his Japanese fans.

A Japanese fan of Jenson Button

"It was a really horrible feeling as I couldn't get hold of her," added Button, who, along with Hamilton, is auctioning his race helmet to raise funds for a Japanese charity. "But it was nothing like what the people on the ground were going through.

"Having that connection to Japan it's difficult but I think the Japanese people have shown us how strong they are and how they pull together. They had people going through the rubble and finding things that were worth money and handing them in for charity. I've got a lot of respect for the Japanese people and I think we can learn a lot from them."

Button is hugely popular in Japan and as you wander among the passionate fans in Suzuka many of them are wrapped in British flags or with 'Button' painted on their cheeks and even finger nails.

The English racer might not be able to stop Vettel taking the title in Suzuka but if he can push the German hard for the victory, as he did in Singapore, his efforts will not go unnoticed.

"Japanese people love to celebrate," he added. "Hopefully we can put on a good show for them this weekend and plant a good memory."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I love Jenson :)

  • Comment number 2.

    I love Jenson even more!

  • Comment number 3.

    he will win tomorrow!

  • Comment number 4.

    Whatever the outcome of the battle for second place, Jenson has been the most exciting driver to watch this season. He seems happy and settled at McLaren and surely stands a chance of taking the next world championship back from Vettel.

    Not that I'll be seeing him do it because I say NO TO SKY.

  • Comment number 5.

    He is Englands Gentleman racer. If he continues to out qualify Hamilton (and win today!) he must be considered McLarens No1 driver for next season, the best chance of winning a championship for the team, and so be given the lions share of support in a title bid.
    Of the two of them I would say it is Lewis who has struggled the most since Jenson's arrival, even though it was thought suicide for Button to join a team so geared towards the wonder kid.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sarah,
    I'm sure you are missing the meaning of Jenson's Japanese tattoo. To translate ichiban simply as 'number one' misses the significance.

    Ichiban = first. The implied meaning is as in the first in a race i.e the upmost/best/ greatest/ultimate.

    daiichi also means first/number one but does not imply the above.

    such as Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster i.e number one reactor at Fukishima

    Iie to $ky
    Hai to FTA

  • Comment number 8.

    It's a shame he couldn't have taken pole today but let's hope McLaren's race pace is good so that he or Hamilton can win the race. I've got nothing against Vettle or Redbull and Vettle has driven superbly this season, but it would be good if someone else (other than Ferrari) won again before the season ends.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jenson's profile, demeanor and driving have just got better and better even since he won the title.

    Maybe Jessica will be shouting "Number 1" again after the race.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Jenson is terrific. But Lewis is the better racer.

  • Comment number 12.

    I enjoyed the article, but am intrigued that you managed to report Vettel's pole at 5.29am. Even if that's GMT, it's still before Q2 had started. With those powers of prediction, I'd appreciate your thoughts on who I should have a flutter on for the race win!

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for all your comments so far.

    Re #12, that's a quirk of the system - we had the blog ready before qualifying and were just waiting to add the details of grid positions. The blog software dates an article from the time you first start preparing a template. We've manually changed the time to the accurate moment of publication now - thanks for pointing it out.

  • Comment number 14.

    I've read the qualifying article on the main site and subsequently seen this from Sky Sports:

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,,12433_7230550,00.html

    I honestly do not remember hearing Hamilton say any of those things during qualifying... are Sky just making up quotes (like the tabloid parts of the Murdoch empire) to make things appear more interesting?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Unless the BBC show full reruns next year this may well be the last time we will be able to watch the complete race. Would be great to see Jenson win the last Japanese race to be shown in full on the BBC.

    Yes to terristrial TV.

  • Comment number 17.

    Jenson is easily my favourite driver. On and off the track, a true gent.

    See half of you next year Jenson, or RTL with 5Live, either way, it tastes a bit sour.

  • Comment number 18.

    @14

    Hamilton's quotes have been other places so Sky didn't make it up, but if want to read the quotes without being bombarded with betting advertisements can read it here

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-2046756/Lewis-Hamilton-questions-Mark-Wabber-Michael-Schumacher.html

    What were Webber and Schumi supposed to do? They were going to not make it if didn't go by Hamilton who was going really slow at the time. Isn't always the case but this is either 100% Hamilton's fault or the team if they didn't tell him to hurry up.

  • Comment number 19.

    I Love Jenson More than 1 and 2 combined!!

    But I'd love to see a McLaren 1/2 tomorrow. Vettel will win the title, we've known that since Australia. Button's a nice guy, it seems, and deserves to be 2nd in the DC because of that superb race in Canada. Best race ever in my opinion.

    I agree with 8 too! Boo Ferrari!! Yaay Button!

  • Comment number 20.

    Is anybody else getting fed up of hearing how Paul Di resta "doesn't get enough attention" and then every weekend getting tired of hearing the BBC crew go on and on and on about how good he is and how well he is doing!

    He is a good prospect but he's not THAT good and I'm tired about hearing how he beat Vettel 5 years ago in a lower formula. Didn't Brundle beat Senna or do good against him in a lower formula. How did that end up??

  • Comment number 21.

    Jenson is driving extremely well right now and it is great that he has signed up with McLaren. Can't wait to see how he gets on in HALF of the races in 2012.

    No to Sky.

  • Comment number 22.

    What happens if somehow next year Button or Hamilton gets in the same position as Vettel and can win the Championship early? Are we going to see it in delayed 75 minute highlights since it is only the last race of the season we are guaranteed to see full and live??

  • Comment number 23.

    Jenson, Button who is he? He is LEARNING from quick driver the master Lewis, the only thing that was going for button was his cool personality not his racing. Because now all the Mclaren are behind him and against lewis and he is going with it, makes think he is not nice guy at all but backstabber. We knew him before and his driving, only because he si british got him Champion which he does not desreve.They caried him on thier shoulder. YHE PROBLEM LEWIS HAS IS HIS TEAM. As once barricello said if the team wants you to lose you lose. That is what is happening in Mclaren.FLAVIO BRIATORE FOR WITHMARSH.

  • Comment number 24.

    @23. Dobbio... Button isn't learning from Hamilton at all, if this was the case then both McLaren drivers would be in the stewards office every other weekend.

    I think Button was very unlucky to be fastest all weekend then lose out to pole by .009, here's hoping he can keep that impressive pace into the race tomorrow. Once again with Hamilton, he had a chance to be impressive, and he blew it by his own doing, not the trait of a great driver.

    NO TO SKY!

  • Comment number 25.

    Jenson is in superb form at this moment and you have to say is the number 1 driver at this moment in time at Mclaren. Did not think I would saying that to be honest. Hopefully with improvements to the car next season and hopefully less Vettel dominance we may see a push for the championship from Jenson. Oh wait, we as viewers won't see a possible challenge, we will just get half a story!

    No to sky and shame on the BBC. Disgrace.

  • Comment number 26.

    I would love to see Jenson win. He appears to be such a likeable chap and lacks the attitude which has seen Hamilton sink so far this year. Would also like to see Kobayashi do well in the race. 7th on the grid is brilliant for Sauber and he could really do something special in front of his home fans from there. Remember last year?

    Can I also express my disgust at how every BBC F1 blog turns into a "no to Sky" trolling contest. I don't like it any more than the next person, but I have to accept that it has happened and there really is very little we can do about it. For now, I just want to enjoy the rest of what has been an intriguing season. Wise up people; we've made our point, now let's discuss F1, not back room politicking.

  • Comment number 27.

    I can't work Lewis out, there was no way could he have attempted a pole shot, he was so slow, he must have lost a lot of heat out of the tyres, and pressure! Maybe he was just putting a low level heat cycle through the tyres?
    I wish we had access to all the radio transmissions and telemetry.
    Maybe a bigger issue tomorrow, he will have both Ferrari's and Webber around him, and he hasn't made any friends amongst those 3. I can honestly see Lewis trying to win the race off the line and it all ending up in carnage.
    Nei til Skytv

  • Comment number 28.

    Hey, Bushthebutton, Honestly do you think that button is a great driver than hammi. Besides button was not so aggressive in his driving, people around him encourage him all the time to beat hammi. I SAY AGAIN FLAVIO FOR WITHMARESH. mCLAREN SHOULD BE FAIR AT ALL THE TIMES.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Dobbio, seriously? Hamilton might be a better driver, or Button might be, but the simple fact is that Button is ahead in the championship and hasn't made nearly so many stupid mistakes as Hamilton has throughout the year. Maybe if Hamilton had the same level of maturity that Button regularly displays he would be a better driver, but you have to judge them based on their complete package, not on one single attribute.

    Also, isn't Flavio Briatore still banned from F1?

  • Comment number 32.

    "Vettel took the unusual decision to go out early for the final runs and the decision paid off for the German, who took arguably his most comfortable pole position of the season." And " Button, who had led all three practice sessions in Japan, was beaten by an agonisingly narrow 0.009 seconds." Definitely arguably.

  • Comment number 33.

    Love you Jenson so much!!! Hoping for a good result for him and Lewis!

  • Comment number 34.

    http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,,12602_7225601,00.html

    Tony "The Charisma" Jardine strikes again on Sky "Give us your money" Sport.

    Honestly, F1 doesn't stand a chance with this kind of coverage in 2012.

    No to Sky!

  • Comment number 35.

    come on jenson and lewis beat vettel plz!!

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Jenson has been a revelation this season. No to Sky.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Come on Jenson, you need to push that little bit more and wobble Vettel, No To Sky

  • Comment number 41.

    To the Daily Mail journo - who is Mark Wabber???

  • Comment number 42.

    must be my age, i'm just hoping for a great race.......something along the lines of canada would be good

  • Comment number 43.

    Most definitely Jenson has done brilliantly this season. He has ever since he joined McLaren. I'll admit to being a fan of Lewis for his driving style, but Jenson has definitely won a new fan for the way he has driven and conducted himself. He's a definite top asset to the team. Glad things are going well for him.

  • Comment number 44.

    Suzuka is my favourite track simply because of the bridge - sad I know but wow....a track with character and yes I know Belguim is probably a better, more historic track....

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Great stuff from Vettel. Hopefully, he seals the deal in a few hours.

  • Comment number 47.

    Jenson's hero was Prost and Lewis was Senna , it really reflects in both their styles too.

    If Vettle stopped wagging that blimming finger all the time I could possibly tolerate his antics. Is there any more news about Redbulls overspending and the possible flexing of a part of the floor? It would sadly spoil another perfect Adrian Newey car otherwise , which is on par with my personal all time fav car the Williams FW14B.

    With some of the obvious chemically enhanced view on Lewis not being treated fairly , he only has himself to blame and even bigger cudus to Jenson for doing something even Alonso couldn't !

  • Comment number 48.

    Jenson Button has always been a better driver than Lewis Hamilton. That is a fact proven by Jenson being ahead in the championship whilst driving the same car as Lewis. Jenson is the one that is driving the McClaren development forward, as his feedback is knowledgeable and useful, unlike Lewis's. Lewis is benefitting from that fact - the car would be a lot slower if the team only had Lewis's input.
    NO TO SKY (that really is a crushing disappointment)

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Jenson has gone up in my estimations this year, however in my opinion Lewis will always be the better, more exciting driver.

    By the way, NO TO SKY!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Good luck Jenson, but tis a shame that will poss be last time that I can set the alarm for 5.45AM, and not feel guilty for opening the saki straight away. Going to be a good day me thinks.

    I for one, will not be blackmailed into buying Sky, as far as I'm concerned they can all sod off.

    No to Sky

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    The relentless attacks on Lewis are taking their toll and it looks like his mental game is off. Well done BBC, your plan seems to be working perfectly.

    On a positive that was a brilliant well deserved win for Jenson.

  • Comment number 55.

    Interesting to see that Vettel was more worried about Jenson than Lewis, and as it turned out rightly so.
    the BBC has let the sport down with selling out to sky

  • Comment number 56.

    Great drive from Jenson and fitting for the last Japanese GP we will probably be able to watch in full on the BBC.

    Yes to terristrial TV.

  • Comment number 57.

    Sarah - brilliant to see your reply at *13, above. This is the first time I have witnessed a reply on any of the blogs at BBC since I joined 4 months ago. Great drive by Jenson, he gets the job done without fuss and is a credit to the sport. Such a pity I won't see all his races next year.

    NO TO SKY!

 

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