Jenson Button is celebrating his first world championship and already looking forward to repeating his triumph with the Brawn GP team next season.
“I want to be here next year and I want to be with a team that can challenge for victories like this season,” Button told Press Association. Button had to take a big pay cut from a reported $13 million to $8 million when his former Honda team pulled out of Formula One last year and were re-formed under a management buyout led by technical guru Ross Brawn. A fairytale start to the season saw the 29-year-old win six of the first seven races of the season, but a series of indifferent results allowed teammate Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull to sustain their own championship challenges. But a battling fifth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday secured the title glory for the Briton who believes it can be repeated by the Northampton-based outfit. “Brawn can do that. These guys are not one-hit wonders. We’ve some sensationally talented people in our team,” he added. Team chief Brawn broke down in tears as his charges wrapped up the constructors’ championship to complete a remarkable reversal of fortunes. “It’s still got to sink in. It will take a while … It’s just special. Very special,” he said. “The work the team did over the winter … all the people who couldn’t be with us because we had to resize the team after the winter, my thanks go to them. I hope they have enjoyed it because they have been part of what we’ve done.” The tributes continued to pour in for Button on Monday with fellow British world champion Damon Hill saying he had showed his true quality and silenced the doubters. “It’s a very happy story,” Hill told BBC Radio 5 Live. “Jenson’s a lovely guy and he’s the playboy world champion with the winning smile. “I think everyone feels good for him. “He got accused of not taking it seriously but I think he showed everyone how serious he is inside.”
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Button had to battle his way from 14th on the grid after a nightmare final qualifying session in the rain at Interlagos on Saturday, with his teammate and nearest title rival Barrichello on pole. But he was determined to drive an attacking race as he carved his way through the field before settling in fifth in the closing stages. His relief was palpable in his moment of triumph, treating the world to his own rendition of Queen’s We Are The Champions over the race radio. Button told reporters “It’s really amazing, especially after the last few races I’ve had. This one makes up for it. It was just such an awesome race and I’m world champion, baby.”
Back home the celebrations started in Frome, where Button grew up, and the mayor of the south-west of England town Damon Hooton said he could be given freedom of the area for his achievements. The Fomula One season finishes with the Abu Dhabi GP on November 1 with Barrichello and Vettel battling for the runners-up spot behind Button in the title standings.