x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Monaco winner's parking tip

Button recommends an encore of his jubilation last year, which was one of the highlights of the 2009 season when he parked his car in the wrong place and ran up to the podium.

Jenson Button waves to fans as he trots towards the winners' podium after winning last year's Monaco Grand Prix.
Jenson Button waves to fans as he trots towards the winners' podium after winning last year's Monaco Grand Prix.

MONACO // Jenson Button, the Formula One world champion, has some simple advice for whoever wins this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix - park your car in the wrong place and get running. The McLaren driver did just that last year when he triumphed with Brawn GP, jogging jubilantly back down the pit straight to the podium with the occasional leap in the air in front of a throng of cheering fans.

"I would recommend it to whoever wins this year," he said yesterday in a joint interview Lewis Hamilton, his McLaren teammate who was the winner of the most glamorous race on the calendar in 2008. "If I win, I'm going to do it again," smiled the Briton, whose steering wheel will have the numbers "09" picked out in diamonds individually crafted by Steinmetz, the team sponsor. Hamilton, the 2008 champion, will have "08" on his.

Hamilton, sitting alongside Button in the splendid Villa La Vigie, which was once the home of Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer, with its terraces overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean, shook his head and laughed when asked whether he would be up for it. Button's jubilation last year at winning what amounts to a second home race for the Monaco resident was one of the highlights of the 2009 season.

"The thing is with most races when you win, there isn't so much that you can do that is really different. "You get up on to the podium and you are full of emotion but it's always the same place, same situation," said Button. "So parking in the wrong place was actually a good thing for me last year. "It was fun to run down and see the crowd." "Normally when you are in the car, you can't hear the crowd, so running down I could hear them," he added.

"It was a little bit embarrassing because you messed up but that didn't last long because it was quite enjoyable running down." Button, who has won twice this season and leads the world championship, and Hamilton will be among the favourites at a twisting street circuit which has rewarded McLaren far more than any other team over the past 25 years. It is Hamilton's favourite track but he played that down, also rejecting any suggestion that it could test his relationship with Button if the older Briton triumphed.

"It's just another race," said the 25-year-old. "I want to win every race. So for me, it's no different to any other race," he said. "It's special because it's the Monaco Grand Prix but we've won it now so that 'I really, really want to win it for the first time' has gone. "Of course it would be a great place [to take the first win of the season]," he added. "It's 'Monte Carlo, baby'." Button, who shouted over the radio when he won last year "yeah, Monaco, baby'", corrected him on the proper usage.

"I love the things I do when I'm high on victory, the things you say," he grinned. "If I win here it will be an amazing feeling. "It's a special race but it's not going to change the way that you work together," continued the champion. "If one of us wins and the other one doesn't, it's not going to end our relationship. It's a race you want to win and if one of us does a great job this weekend and wins, the other one will congratulate them because it's a great race to win."

Button said victory at Silverstone on July 11, the same day as the football World Cup final in South Africa, would be a far bigger deal for him. In 10 seasons in Formula One, the Englishman has not even stepped on the podium on home soil in front of his own fans. Fourth in 2004, with BAR, remains his best result. "I think in your F1 career you would want to win your home grand prix, definitely, because there is such a special atmosphere," he said.

"Even when times are tough the British are very supportive. Winning there would be exceptional." * Reuters Simon Arron and Johnny Herbert preview the Monaco Grand Prix in tomorrow's sports section