Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2016

I will retire happy with one world title: Button

McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button giving Esso's social media competition winner Yasser Abdul Razak an exclusive gift pack yesterday.
McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button giving Esso's social media competition winner Yasser Abdul Razak an exclusive gift pack yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The final seven races of this season might be the last of Jenson Button's career. And while he has pocketed one Formula One (F1) world championship, his career since his grand spell in 2009 has tapered off after a disappointing few seasons with McLaren.

Yet the Briton is keeping his chin up, and insists that he will retire happy when the time comes.

"As a kid, the dream was to win the world championship in Formula One. I've reached my goal," he told the media at a fan event held at Esso's Toa Payoh station yesterday.

"Would I like to win more? Of course, but would I retire upset? No. I'm very happy winning one world championship, 15 grands prix, and having 50 podiums."

At 36, Button is one of the oldest maestros of his trade. And after 17 years in the sport, the Briton is ready to take a back seat next year with a sabbatical as a McLaren ambassador.

"I've been doing this job for 17 years now, which is my whole adult life," he said.

"The problem is it's been my life - racing is my life and everything that follows after a grand prix is either recovery or preparation, so I need something else in my life next year.

"I want to live a year 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."

The Briton ventured into Singapore's heartlands to surprise a fan at an event hosted by McLaren-Honda sponsor Esso at its Toa Payoh Lorong 2 service station.

As the winner of Esso's "Who is Singapore's biggest McLaren-Honda fan?" social media competition, Yasser Abdul Razak received a car wash from a McLaren F1 "pit crew" before his F1 hero pulled into the petrol station in a snazzy McLaren 650s, stepped out and shook his hand.

The IT systems engineer 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!" he exclaimed.

He also received a bag of goodies including tickets to this weekend's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, fuel vouchers from Esso and McLaren-Honda memorabilia which Button signed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'I will retire happy with one world title: Button'. Print Edition | Subscribe