Jenson Button has warned his title rival Rubens Barrichello that Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix feels like a second home race for him. With 84 points, the Briton, 29, leads his Brawn GP teammate Barrichello by 15 in the championship with three races left and has been in Suzuka since Tuesday. He plans to stay back for a while after the race in the country with his half-Japanese model girlfriend Jessica Michibata.
Button's home Grand Prix at Silverstone in July marked the start of his ebb in the title race but, after a solid drive to gain a point on Barrichello in Singapore last week, he said he was brimming with confidence at one of his favourite venues. "I really feel at home here," said Button, whose finished third in 2004. "Suzuka is a fabulous circuit and it's a hell of an atmosphere all weekend. "I've enjoyed it every time I've been here and pretty much had almost entirely good results here. I love the place, which is why I got here on Tuesday and while I'll stay another week after the race."
Button admitted he was still nursing bumps and bruises following the Singapore Grand Prix, where he battled to fifth place despite his Brawn car struggling on the bumpy terrain of the night race there. Suzuka's flatter surface ought to suit Button, who could wrap up the title in Japan if he gains five points on Barrichello, although the Brazilian is hardly a slouch here himself having won for Ferrari in 2003 at the track.
But Button warned: "Needing five points on a teammate when he's at his prime is very difficult. That's still a big margin. So for me to get motivated, it's not hard really." As for his chances of being crowned champion in Suzuka, he added: "Don't get me wrong - that would be great. I'm looking forward to the race having missed this race [Suzuka were replaced by Fuji on the calendar in 2006]. "It's a thrill to be leading the World Championship. As a kid, you want to race in Formula One and be world champion. That's the dream and it was never a case of 'I want to win it by then or by this much'. My dream is not necessarily to win it in Suzuka but to win it, full stop."
Button believed Red Bull, rather than his Brawn, will be the team to beat in the qualifying and the race itself but he said he would still be going all out for victory. "I'd love to win the race here and that will be the aim at every race left this season," he said. "Red Bull will be a team to beat and they'll want to put the pressure on. I believe in the team and we'll see on Sunday afternoon." email@example.com