Jenson Button says he is hoping to repeat his victory of twelve months ago when F1 heads back to Suzuka next weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Button, a popular figure with Japanese fans from his time with Honda, secured victory in the race last season after beating Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel to victory and heads into the race this time around on the back of a second place finish last time out in Singapore.
Having shown strong pace in the last three races, Button said he was confident of challenging for his third win of 2012 at a circuit he enjoys.
“All of my grand prix wins have felt special, but winning at Suzuka in 2011, at the first grand prix held in Japan since the terrible tsunami last March, was an achievement that still makes me feel incredibly proud and emotional,” he said. “As everybody knows, Japan means a lot to me. It's a place I love, I've been here so many times – for business and pleasure – and I still feel that wide-eyed awe and deep emotion for a country that exists so comfortably on so many different levels.
“Suzuka is definitely a circuit that puts hair on your chest. It's extremely uncompromising; like a street circuit, it doesn't allow for a single mistake, punishing you for putting a wheel wrong at almost every point on the circuit. But it's also extremely quick – there's only one line through the esses that make up the whole first section; the Degner corners are blind, hidden in dips in the track, and approached over bumps that jolt the car, trying to unbalance it. Successfully hitting the apex for Degner 1 is a bit like trying to thread a needle while running the 100 metres – difficult!
“We go to Japan with a car that I feel convinced can fight for victory – it should be another good weekend for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said he too has fond memories of Button's success at Suzuka last season.
“Suzuka is a very special circuit, a place where some of the greatest chapters in McLaren's history have been written over the past 25 years,” he said. “Of all our achievements there, I look back at Jenson's victory last year with particular fondness and satisfaction. It was an extremely tense afternoon, and the victory was a perfect team effort – Jenson drove with all the measured aggression we've come to expect, and his back-up from the team was superb.”