McLaren Honda's Jenson Button says he finds it “unbelievable” to think he will start his 300th grand prix this weekend in Malaysia, adding it has been a “great ride”.
Button, who recently announced he will take a sabbatical from the sport in 2017, made his debut back in 2000 with Williams, and now looks set to join an exclusive club with only Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher having also started 300 grand's prix, although this is actually his 303rd F1 event, as he was disqualified in San Marino in 2005, while he failed to start in the USA in that same year and in Bahrain last year.
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Asked what his place in F1 history means to him, Button replied: “That's a good question that deserves a very long answer and I'm not going to give it to you here. It means I've been around for a hell of a long time...
“I remember when Rubens got to 300 and it was unbelievable that he got to 300, I thought 'I'm never going to race that long'.
“I remember when I started in 2000 I remember speaking to my dad and he was saying 'how long do you think you're going to race for, will you still be racing in your thirties?' and I was like 'no, I'll be done by the time I'm 30 years old!' And here I am at 36 and this weekend at the start of my 300th grand prix.”
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Button also added that the key thing in F1 is not to let the bad times drag you down: “It definitely sucks you in, Formula One, it doesn't let go, as long as you're performing. It's been a great ride to 300, lots of ups and downs, as every career will have. The important thing is that you stay on top of those bad times as much as you can, because you never know how long they're going to last. So a very exciting career to this point, 300 races, and if any of these guys around me can achieve the same thing, fair play to them because it's a long time doing the same thing!”
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Meanwhile, Button added that he has lots of fond memories of Sepang, including that victory in 2009 with Brawn in his Championship winning year, as well as his maiden podium with BAR-Honda in 2004.
“I won here, which is a pretty good memory, back in '09. It was quite a strange race – the rain was so severe we had to red flag the race and it wasn't restarted. I won the race but only got half points, which was a bit of a pain!
“It's always been a great circuit to race on. It's also the place I scored my first podium in 2004. I was running third in 2002 as well and on the last lap my suspension failed and handed the third place to Michael Schumacher – so that would have been my first podium. So I've got a lot of great memories here.”
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