End of the road for Button and Michibata

Jessica Michibata and Jenson Button relaxing in the paddock during the Japanese Grand Prix in September. The high-profile couple hardly lived together after they got married nearly a year ago.
Jessica Michibata and Jenson Button relaxing in the paddock during the Japanese Grand Prix in September. The high-profile couple hardly lived together after they got married nearly a year ago.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Over the last few years, Jessica Michibata has become a familiar face at the Singapore Grand Prix. The Japanese-Argentinian model has often been seen around the Marina Bay Street Circuit during Formula One's only night race - first as Formula One driver Jenson Button's girlfriend, then as his fiancee, and finally as his wife.

But the couple are no more together, with the McLaren driver's agent confirming their split after one year of marriage.

"Jenson and Jessica have decided to go their separate ways and it is very amicable," Button's spokesman told the Daily Mail.

"There is no one else involved."

It is not the first time that they have split. After meeting in 2008, they broke up in 2010 before getting back together.

He proposed on Valentine's Day last year and they tied the knot in Hawaii 10 months later in an intimate ceremony.

But, according to the Sun, they have never lived together since.

Michibata, 31, spends most of her time in Tokyo, where she shares a flat with her mother, while Button, 35, resides in Monaco.

Button revealed as much in an interview earlier this year.

"We don't see each other now any more than before we were married," he told the Mail on Sunday.

"Jessie still works a lot in Japan.

"She enjoys her job, she models, she had a television show and has done a Japanese film.

"She enjoys working, which is great, but it obviously means that we don't see each other very often."

And, just last week, the Briton spoke of his hope that the gruelling F1 calendar would not go beyond the record-breaking 21 races scheduled for next season.

"It's difficult for any mechanic or engineer to have a relationship right now, so 21 races is going to be tough," he said.

"I hope it doesn't grow in 2017."

Button and Michibata were last pictured together in October.

Then, he uploaded a photo of them celebrating her 31st birthday in Los Angeles.

They made the headlines two months before that, when their rented villa was burgled while they were asleep during a holiday in the south of France.

The 2009 Formula One world champion was staying with friends in St Tropez when thieves broke into the property, making off with some £300,000 (S$628,000) worth of valuables, including Michibata's engagement ring.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'End of the road for Button and Michibata'. Print Edition | Subscribe