Jenson Button heads to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix with the enviable record of never having posted a retirement in twelve attempts at the race, and will be looking to repeat the victory he finally achieved in 2011.

Although the world title was effectively out of reach by the time the championship reached Suzuka a year ago, the Briton took an emotional win that went a long way to confirming him as runner-up to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. While many of his rivals claim Spa-Francorchamps as their favourite venue, Button has always had a soft spot for Suzuka, and Japan in general.

"I think this is one of the most special races on the calendar for all of us," he insisted, "I personally love driving this circuit, it's a real challenge and a circuit you love to win on, especially with the crowd here - the spectators are very supportive of us all, so it's a special place to win.

"A good result is something I'm obviously looking for [this weekend]. Obviously, I've got a little penalty which doesn't help, especially because it's not the easiest place to overtake, but I'm really excited. The win is more difficult than it would have been without the penalty, but it's still definitely a possibility and we're doing everything we can to make it possible."

With a Japanese girlfriend and an F1 history that includes a lengthy spell with Honda, Button has plenty of ties to Japan, and is only to happy to use his position to help those there less fortunate than himself.

"Obviously, I was working with a Japanese team for many years, [but] the biggest connection is obviously my girlfriend, Jessie," he confirmed, "I love the country, I love the culture, I love the people, I love the food.

"I've been in Japan all week, and headed up to the Sendai region and visited what used to be a town very close to Natori. It's where the [2011] tsunami hit, so [we're] still raising awareness for what happened last year and also for what is still ongoing here in Japan, especially in that region and the difficulties that they still have. It was a very emotional day, but I think a very good day and, hopefully, we can help the people that have suffered from the disaster, the people who don't have homes at the moment. That was the main reason for doing it."

Motorsport wasn't far from Button's schedule even before he reached Suzuka, however, as his visit took him to one of the breeding grounds for the next wave of Japanese stars.

"In the afternoon, I went to a local kart circuit, a place called Sugo," he revealed, "It's got a big history of motor sport - I think it's the place where Michael Schumacher raced in an F3000 car, the only race he did in an F3000 car - and I watched 15 or 16 kids driving around the local kart circuit there. [They were] all people who were affected by the tsunami in that region, [and it was] a really good experience to see them in the different categories of karting.

"It's such a pure sport, karting, just pure driving, and that's why I think we all still love it so much. Hopefully, one day we will see one of those kids on the F1 grid, because there's a lot of talent here in Japan and it would nice to help one of those kids one day."

Seeing the reality of last year's disaster in Sendai also transported Button away from the often insular world of the F1 paddock, where the biggest news of the Japanese GP build-up was the departure of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who will line up for Mercedes in 2013. With his own future secured at Suzuka a year ago, Button is one of the few drivers who knows his immediate F1 future, and he admitted that it was good not to have been distracted by contract negotiations this time around.

"It's nice to be the one not in that position - it normally is me," he smiled, "We all move about, that's the way F1 is - you're either trying to find a better possibility, a better team, that you think can give you an opportunity to win races. Or you're looking for another challenge. There's always going be people moving around in F1. It's the same with team personnel - it's not just the drivers - but it just seems that it's all come at once [in Hamilton's case]."

The 2008 world champion's exit left a void that was quickly filled by rising Mexican star Sergio Perez, and Button was quick to praise his new team-mate.

"I don't really think Sergio needs any advice," he insisted, "He's let his driving do the talking and he's had some very good performances over the last couple of years. That's the reason he's got the drive he has at the moment - and why he's got the drive he has next year."


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