Button relishing return to Suzuka

Jenson Button has fond memories of the Japanese Grand Prix

Jenson Button has fond memories of the Japanese Grand Prix

First published in National Sport News © by

Jenson Button heads to his 'second home' circuit of Suzuka this week in awe of a track he believes keeps drivers "honest and focused".

For many racing drivers of all categories, the Japanese venue is one of the greatest in world motor sport.

Button can at least lay claim to the privilege of savouring victory on such a prestigious stage in 2011 with McLaren.

It is one that continues to strike a chord with the 33-year-old, who said: "My win there remains one of my most emotional victories.

"That is because it was the first Japanese Grand Prix after the terrible tsunami that devastated the north of Japan - it was such an important event for the whole country."

It was vital, too, for the Button clan, given his long-term girlfriend is Japanese-Argentinian model Jessica Michibata - a relationship that leads to the Briton spending a considerable period of time in Japan.

But it is the circuit itself that so impresses Button, describing Suzuka as an "unforgiving track".

Button added: "On most circuits, if you run wide or out-brake yourself, you invariably end up just running onto the Tarmac run-off, so you can easily get back onto the track without any penalty.

"At Suzuka, if you run wide through the Esses, or go off the track at the exit of the Degners, you're going to find yourself in the gravel.

"I like that. It rewards those who don't make mistakes, and it makes for better racing, because you have to stay honest and focused."

Sadly, Button has little to no chance of repeating his success of two years ago as the current McLaren is in a different league compared to Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus.

Points are still a possibility, as was the case in Korea on Sunday - where Button and team-mate Sergio Perez were eighth and 10th - and as recognised by team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

"Our race in Korea again demonstrated the extent of our ability and determination whenever we go racing," Whitmarsh said.

"Despite suffering numerous setbacks throughout the race, nobody in the team let their head go down, and both drivers posted fantastic, determined comeback drives to get into the points.

"For Suzuka, our aim will be for a clean and trouble-free afternoon's racing in order to see if we can improve upon our results from last weekend."

Like Button, Suzuka also holds many special memories for Whitmarsh, who added: "I remember seeing Ayrton (Senna) win his penultimate grand prix here.

"Also, Mika's (Hakkinen) two world titles were sealed in Japan; Kimi (Raikkonen) drove one of his very finest races here, and we all fondly remember Jenson's beautifully measured victory back in 2011.

"This is a track that ranks with the very greatest in the world, and, while we are realistic enough to know we will not add to the tally of successes this weekend, just being in Suzuka, the spiritual home of Japanese motor sport, will help inspire us to greater heights and many further victories in the future."

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