Outgoing McLaren driver Jenson Button has thinks that it “unbelievable” as he readies himself for his 300th grand prix at Sepang this weekend.
Jenson is set to join former Brawn stable mate Rubens Barrichello in reaching 300 GP’s, in a career that has gone over 17 seasons. The McLaren man has already taken a backward step for 2017, although there is a possibility that he could return in 2018 with the team he has been at since 2010.
In a Malaysia press conference Jenson was asked about his place in F1’s history to which he replied:
“That’s a good question that deserves a very long answer and I’m not going to give it to you here. It means I’ve been around for a hell of a long time…
“I remember when Rubens got to 300 and it was unbelievable that he got to 300, I thought ‘I’m never going to race that long’. I remember when I started in 2000 I remember speaking to my dad and he was saying ‘how long do you think you’re going to race for, will you still be racing in your thirties?’ and I was like ‘no, I’ll be done by the time I’m 30 years old!’ And here I am at 36 and this weekend at the start of my 300th grand prix.”
Button said the key to a long career in F1 is not to get too downbeat in the bad moments.
“It definitely sucks you in, Formula One, it doesn’t let go, as long as you’re performing. It’s been a great ride to 300, lots of ups and downs, as every career will have. The important thing is that you stay on top of those bad times as much as you can, because you never know how long they’re going to last. So a very exciting career to this point, 300 races, and if any of these guys around me can achieve the same thing, fair play to them because it’s a long time doing the same thing!”
The 2009 champ holds special memories at Sepang, so it is fitting that the milestone comes around for the 2016 race.
“I won here, which is a pretty good memory, back in ’09. It was quite a strange race – the rain was so severe we had to red flag the race and it wasn’t restarted. I won the race but only got half points, which was a bit of a pain! It’s always been a great circuit to race on.
“It’s also the place I scored my first podium in 2004. I was running third in 2002 as well and on the last lap my suspension failed and handed the third place to Michael Schumacher – so that would have been my first podium. So I’ve got a lot of great memories here.”
In fact this will be Jenson’s 303rd F1 weekend. When driving for BAR they were disqualified from the 2003 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola due to a car infringement, which also meant missing the next two races as punishment. He also failed to start the 2005 edition of the U.S. Grand Prix due to Michelin concerns, and the Bahrain event last year.