Jenson Button has echoed McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in claiming that finishing second to Sebastian Vettel in the F1 world championship matters little, except confirming that he has beaten some of the biggest names in the sport.
Hamilton has repeatedly said that he cares little for anything other than the top step of the podium or top spot in the standings, but Button has surprised more than a few people by issuing similar claims in the build-up to the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. Where he differs from his fellow countryman, however, is that he recognises that, by finishing second overall, he is likely to have beaten the likes of Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber on track in the season's three remaining races.
Button currently holds second overall, despite a run of five straight podium finishes - including an emotional victory at Suzuka - coming to an end with fourth place last time out, and hopes that his McLaren team can continue to keep making the sort of progress that saw it taking the fight to Red Bull in Japan and Korea.
"If I hadn't won the championship maybe [second in the championship would be exciting], but now, no," he confirmed to the official F1 website, "I was third back in 2004 and obviously won the championship in 2009, so finishing second doesn't mean so much.
"The aim for the rest of the season is winning races. That is the most important thing, because we love winning races as it means that I am outperforming all the other guys I am racing with. Obviously Sebastian is too far in front, but the rest - Mark, Fernando and Lewis - if I can outscore these guys at the end of the season it means I'd be second. That
is good, but the actual number two doesn't excite me."
Unlike Hamilton, who has endured a nightmare season both on and off track, Button rates the 2011 campaign as one of his best, with three victories - in Canada, Hungary and Japan - all coming in exciting circumstances. On top of that, however, finishing second in the point standings would mean that he becomes the first driver to out-score Hamilton in the same machinery since the younger Briton entered the top flight in 2007.
"I think it's been a pretty good year, [and] I've been happy with most of my performances," Button confirmed, "Of course, there are some performances you could have done without but, on the whole, this season has been a good year for me. I'm not happy with where we are going to finish, but I feel that I've done a good job with the team as we've grown very much together. I would say that, most of the time, I've got the maximum out of the car, so it's a good base for 2012.
"Lewis is very competitive and a very tough team-mate to finish in front of, but that is why I love the challenge to be here. I love having a team-mate who is difficult to beat, because this is F1. We work together very well, but we also want to beat each other and I am loving that challenge. Hopefully it will continue for many years."