2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button has claimed his first podium in motorsport in six years, finishing second in the 2018 Super GT season opener at Okayama.
Following his decision to leave F1 at the end of 2016 - barring a one-off appearance at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix as Indy 500-bound Fernando Alonso’s replacement - Button announced he would be moving into Japan’s Super GT championship on a full-time basis in 2018.
The Briton endured a tough debut in a one-off Super GT outing at the Suzuka 1000km in August, finishing 12th, but enjoyed a competitive start to the new campaign with the Honda-backed Team Kunimitsu squad.
Button qualified his #100 Honda NSX-GT in fifth place during a wet qualifying session on Saturday but slipped to eighth position at the start of Sunday’s race.
He gained two places back after two cars ahead were handed penalties for jumping the start, and focused on tyre preservation before handing over to teammate Naomi Yamamoto in the pitstops prior to mid-distance.
A strategic gamble not to fit new tyres paid off as Yamamoto returned to the circuit in second place, albeit some way down on the #17 Real Racing Honda entry driven by Koudai Tsukakoshi.
Yamamoto closed to within a second on the penultimate lap, but was hampered by traffic and was forced to settle with second - marking Button’s first podium since his victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix with McLaren.