Jenson Button said he was pleased to end the 2012 season as he started it after snaring victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Button had started from the front row of the grid and was in fine form through the opening half of the race, running out front with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg after the pair elected to gamble on staying out on slick tyres when rain started to fall.
Having lost his buffer over the remainder of the field when the Safety Car was deployed for debris on track, Button was shuffled back to third place but then inherited the lead once again when Hulkenberg clashed with Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren – enabling Button to take a lead he would then keep the finish.
Speaking afterwards, Button said the conditions had been some of the most challenging of the season and admitted that he had had a late scare just moments before Paul di Resta crashed his Force India in the final sector to bring out the Safety Car; ensuring the race ended under caution.
“Everyone who took part in today's race deserves respect – it was crazy out there!” he said. “The conditions were always going to trigger plenty of action, because some cars could generate the required tyre temperatures and others couldn't. So, for most of the race, you were on a tyre that didn't feel quite right for the conditions, but for which the lap-times looked okay compared with those of the cars on the other tyre. I spent so much time speaking on the radio to my engineer, Dave [Robson], trying to understand what was going to work and what wasn't.
“The Safety Car made life more difficult for us – we lost the 40-second buffer we'd built up – but then the rain really came down, and the race became all about choosing the best time to switch to the Inters. Then the challenge altered, and it became all about nursing the car to the end. There was a lot of standing water about, especially where Paul [di Resta] had his accident. I'd been through there on the previous lap and had a big snap too, which was a pretty scary moment.
“Congratulations to Sebastian. To win three world championships in a row is a great achievement.”
Button also took time to pay tribute to outgoing team-mate Hamilton, with whom he had battled for position early on in the race.
“I had a lot of fun racing with Lewis, especially for the first ten laps,” he said. “We had a really good, clean fight. It's a pity he wasn't still there at the end – but it was nice to have such a great dice with him in our last race as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mates.
“I really want to say this: 'It's been so good working with you, Lewis. Over the past few years, we've driven a lot of great races together. It's been fab'.”
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh was delighted to see his team end the season on top of the podium, insisting that Button had been a worthy winner.