Formula One: McLaren super fan Yasser gets supreme surprise from F1 ace Button

SINGAPORE - Yasser Abdul Razak received his first surprise of the day when he realised he was about to get a free car wash from a McLaren Formula One pit crew at the Esso station at Toa Payoh Lorong 2.

The second came when his favourite F1 driver, Jenson Button, pulled into the petrol station in a snazzy McLaren 650s, stepped out and shook his hand.

It was the treat of a lifetime for Yasser, who received the Supreme+ surprise when he won Esso's "Who is Singapore's biggest McLaren-Honda fan?" social media competition.

The contest, which was launched on Aug 26, tasked netizens to nominate a friend and explain why they deserve the surprise. Yasser was nominated by his wife Az Lynn, who said: "He literally lives and breathes McLaren. He has been following the team since the Mika Hakkinen era and we even named our son after him."

Yasser was stunned when he saw his idol walking towards him as he stepped out of the car.

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe Jenson is here! Someone pinch me!"

Yasser also received a bag of goodies including tickets to the race this weekend, fuel vouchers from Esso and McLaren-Honda memorabilia which Button generously signed.

As one of the older drivers in this year's line-up, Button is entering the twilight years of his career. And after a dismal three seasons with the British team, the 36-year-old announced at the Italian Grand Prix (Sept 3) that he will be taking a step back from the front lines of Formula One, and move on to an ambassadorial role for McLaren-Honda until 2018.

"I've been doing this job for 17 years now, which is my whole adult life," he told members of the media.

"I want to live a year of my life that's not by the Formula One schedule - I want to spend more time with my friends, family, and to do other things that I love like triathlons."

Button may even pull a Kimi Raikkonen, as he has not ruled out racing in other motor series, such as the Rallycross or the Japanese Super GT.

For a team with 12 drivers' championships and eight constructors' titles, McLaren have suffered a disastrous fall from their glory days - Button brought their last win at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012, and they have not touched the podium since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Out of the last 14 races, only eight have seen a McLaren car finish in the top 10.

But things have picked up since the team's lowest point in 2015, as both Button and team-mate Fernando Alonso, who currently have 17 and 30 points respectively, have already surpassed their total in last year's standings, in which Button was on 16 points and Alonso, 11.

He said: "Last year was obviously nowhere as near as good as we would have hoped. It's still exciting when you see the progress at every grand prix, and that's exciting for the future of this team in terms of the car itself and we've improved a lot since last year. It's a good power upgrade, and we need that to continue, otherwise we're never going to get to Mercedes.

"If we end the season as the fourth-best team consistently, it's a good step forward. Next year, hopefully the team will fight for the podium. And in 2018, hopefully I'll be there to win the world championship."