McLaren’s Jenson Button is determined to spoil Sebastian Vettel’s world title party tomorrow by claiming a maiden Japanese Grand Prix victory.
Vettel may only need a point to become Formula 1’s youngest back-to-back and double world champion, but he has already made it clear there will be no let up as he targets his 10th win of a thoroughly dominant campaign, and his fourth in a row.
As Vettel’s only remaining challenger, the Briton trailing by 124 points with only 125 available, Button would love to extend the battle by at least one more week.
If Vettel repeats the mistake he made in first practice then there is a possibility as a lapse of concentration resulted in the 24-year-old German running into a gravel trap and nudging a barrier.
As for Button, he made a perfect start to the weekend by finishing quickest at the end of both 90-minute sessions, with his best lap a one minute 31.901secs.
The 31-year-old is clearly in form at present, and on a high after putting pen to paper on a new multi-year contract this week with McLaren.
Although Button fully appreciates the championship is effectively over, he has every intention of at least making life as difficult as possible for Vettel.
“The final glory is not there – winning the title, taking the big trophy home, having the No 1 on your car – that’s gone,” said Button. “Trying to win the title now is not really a challenge, is it? It’s like challenging a four-year-old in a 100m sprint – you would absolutely destroy him.
“Maybe I could pay a few drivers lots of money to get rid of him for me – but then I would still have to win every race.
“Seriously, Sebastian has done a great job this year and he does deserve the title, but it would be nice to take it to another race.
“I’m sure it would be overshadowed by Sebastian’s world title victory, but I don’t care because crossing the line first here would be a great feeling at a circuit I love.
“For me, winning races now means more than finishing second in the drivers’ championship.
“If I could win three of the final five races, but I only finished third in the championship, then that would make me a lot happier than finishing second with no wins.”
Yorkshire’s Marussia Virgin racing are hoping for another strong Suzuka performance from Timo Glock, who recorded his highest finish in the red and black at the Japanese Grand Prix 12 months ago.
After Friday practice, team principal John Booth said: “Both cars have managed to complete their full programmes and, particularly with Timo, we have arrived at a good set-up for this track.”