2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button will hope to regain his title next season as he believes he is a more accomplished performer than when he won the crown with Brawn GP.
While Button can still mathematically finish top of the tree this year, he currently trails his Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel by 124 points going into Sunday’s race at Suzuka and would need to win the final five races and the German not score a single point point.
The 31-year-old Briton, who signed a new multi-year contract with McLaren on Wednesday, acknowledges the title is gone.
But rather than stew on that, Button is taking the positives from a season in which he says he feels he is driving “better than ever”.
“I thought I drove pretty well through my championship-winning season, especially the first part of the season. But I’m definitely a better driver now with the experiences I’ve been through since then,” said Button.
“We are so close to fighting with Red Bull, yet so far, and I think it is good to have the continuity going forward for the next couple of years.
“I’ve been enjoying racing so it’s nice to sign on the dotted line and get a deal in place.”
While Vettel has played down what appears to be an imminent championship celebration, Button said: “I’m happy that he is still talking about it being possible for me to win the title — he is probably the only person saying so (because) it is all but over.
“I think Sebastian probably doesn’t want to think about it until after the race. I’m sure it is something he’s looking forward to but doesn’t want to discuss, and especially not in front of us now.”
Button, who has won races in Canada and Hungary this season, believes he and compatriot Lewis Hamilton can see McLaren challenge Vettel on a circuit where Red Bull’s acknowledged aerodynamic advantage should see the German reign once more.
“Whether we are quick or not, we will have to wait and see. But we are in the hunt and hopefully we can get up there,” said Button.
“This is a circuit I’d love to win on, and to come away with the victory would be very special – although it would be slightly overshadowed if a certain person wins the championship.”