Jenson Button described his victory at the Japanese Grand Prix today as both ‘amazing’ and ’emotional’.
The McLaren driver, who started from second place, dropped down to third after a first corner altercation with pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel but recovered to win by 1.1 seconds from Fernando Alonso.
“This was a hard race – the last five or six laps were extremely tough, I had to really look after the tyres and try to save a bit of fuel to get the car home, but it was an amazing victory,” Button said.
“Sebastian came across at me on the start – he kept coming and didn't stop, so I got on the grass and had to back out of the throttle, otherwise there would've been an almighty shunt into Turn One. He said he didn't see me until he saw me backing out, so that lost me a place.
“But fighting back was so, so satisfying: the performance has been in the car all weekend. It's such an emotional victory for me: there's so much history at this circuit, and the crowd here has been amazing, this is second only to a home victory for me.
“I want to thank every single person here in Japan who's supported us – hopefully we've planted a happy memory in their minds, because a lot of Japan has been through difficult times this year. We did our best and we put on a fantastic show.
“Seb has done a great job all season and he deserved the title. He was given the equipment and just got on and did what was required of him. But, for us, there's still more that we can achieve this year: I'd love to go out and fight to win the next few races, and I think we have the car and the team to go and do that. We'll keep pushing and hope to get some more wins this year, but we're also in a very good place right now – and I think that's key to success in 2012.”
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton did not fare quite as well. He started third but, despite running second for a few laps, eventually finished fifth. He also had another collision with Felipe Massa, although the ramifications of today’s incident were far less significant than they were in Singapore a fortnight ago.
“This was a disappointing race for me, but it was a great day for Jenson and the whole team,” said Hamilton. “Jenson did a remarkable job today – he really deserved this victory, but it wasn't a great one for me. Still, I'm going to keep my head up and look ahead to the next race where I'll hopefully have another chance.
“Clearly, our car has the pace to win, but I wasn't able to compete today so I'll go away and look at the data to work out how I can come back and be competitive in Korea next weekend.
“In the race, I don't really know what happened with Felipe – the car's mirrors vibrate at high-speed, so I couldn't see him pulling alongside me. I want to apologise for our cars' touching, but fortunately nothing happened to either of us. There was no bad intention towards Felipe; I've got the utmost respect for him, he's a fantastic driver and he was extremely quick today.
“Finally, big congratulations to Sebastian for winning the title. We all knew it was going to happen, but his season has really been flawless. It's a fantastic achievement for him.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh thought that all of the podium finishers race well today and insisted that, although the title may have been secured this weekend, the team will continue to push for wins right up to the end of the season.
“Today we witnessed a great drive from Jenson,” Whitmarsh commented. “It was a fast and tough race from the very start, and Jenson, Fernando and Sebastian all did a fantastic job today.
“Obviously, those last few laps were extremely tense. We've been in the position of hunting for victory, but it's even more nerve-wracking when you're the car in front! It was a very tense but fantastic spectacle and Jenson didn't put a foot wrong. He drove with extraordinary calm, so today's victory is incredibly well deserved.
“Lewis had a more difficult afternoon. We weren't immediately aware that Lewis appeared to suffer a slow puncture to the right-rear in the first stint. That created a growing pressure differential across the rear axle, and potentially led us to add too much front wing to compensate for the lack of balance at the rear.
“In hindsight, that may have led to Lewis fighting to find a satisfactory balance for the next two stints as we attempted to restore the set-up he'd enjoyed during the previous two days. It was a challenging afternoon for Lewis, but he never gave up, kept pushing and scored some strong points for the team. He had the pace this weekend, so I'm sure he'll be as tough as ever in Korea next weekend.
“Finally, I would like to pass on congratulations to Sebastian from myself and the whole of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. He has driven a consistent and error-free season, and I only wish we could have delayed tonight's party for a little while longer! But big congratulations to him nonetheless.
“For all of us at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, our ambition is undimmed: we'll be aiming to win all the remaining races, starting with Korea next weekend.”