Formula One: Button attempts to forget 'scary' burglary

F1 driver Jesnsen Button speaks for the first time of the "scary" incident of being gassed and robbed earlier this month.
F1 driver Jesnsen Button speaks for the first time of the "scary" incident of being gassed and robbed earlier this month.PHOTO: REUTERS

SPA, Belgium (AFP/GUARDIAN) - Jenson Button has put behind him the trauma of the burglary, in which he and his wife Jessica were allegedly gassed earlier this month, to focus on his return to work at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

The 35-year-old Briton, who won the world title in 2009, said the experience had been "scary" for them both when he spoke of the incident for the first time after they had arrived together in the Spa paddock on Thursday.

"You never want anyone in your house who you haven't invited when you are there and asleep," said Button, who was staying with friends in a villa at St Tropez in the south of France earlier this month when thieves broke in after reportedly pumping gas into the air conditioning system.

"It's always scary, but it is behind us now. We are healthy, well and both looking forward to this weekend," said Button.

The thieves took items, including Jessica's engagement ring, which were valued at more than 400,000 euros (S$630,000).

The McLaren driver, who escaped an attempted armed carjacking in Brazil in 2010, said the incident had caused him and his wife - an Argentinian-Japanese fashion model - to make changes to their personal security.

In the immediate aftermath of the event a spokesmen for Button had suggested the burglars may have pumped gas into the house to incapacitate the residents.

But police, who took blood tests from the victims - the results of which have yet to be revealed - played down the suggestion.

Equally, experts have since argued that it would be very hard to achieve the concentration of gas required to render someone unconscious in these circumstances. However gas has been used in similar robberies.

In 2006 the footballer Patrick Vieira was the victim of a burglary at his home in Cannes, when gas was pumped in via the air-conditioning system to ensure he and his family slept.

"I'm sure it is not the last time it will happen to someone," added Button. "But, hopefully, with all the reports, it's going to make more people aware and that's the most important thing so it doesn't happen as often in the future."

Button spent the final week of his time off during Formula One's four-week mid-season European summer break with his wife's family in Japan. He arrived at the Belgian circuit to learn that he is likely to start with a grid penalty after the McLaren Honda team again fitted him with a new engine.

"We will start at the back of the grid but with turn one here you never really know what is going to happen," Button said. "We would have been in the middle of the pack so you can always end turn one with a wheel missing, so starting where we are is not such a bad thing. "We might make up four or five places."