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Button lights up a corner of Toa Payoh

2009 world champion world champion surprises superfan, backs S'pore night race

It would have started off like any other day at the Esso facility, but the petrol station at Toa Payoh Lorong 2 will probably never have a more famous visitor, after yesterday's afternoon surprise.

And Jenson Button will probably be the fastest driver to appear at the station.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion and current pilot for the world renowned McLaren team was a star presence there yesterday, secretly lying in wait for Esso's Synergy Supreme+ Surprise social media campaign winner Yasser Abdul Razak and his wife Az Lynn.

And Yasser was clearly stunned when Button greeted him with a bear hug.

While the small gathering were busy trying to avoid the steady rain, the hotshot Englishman was hardly fussed, smiling and waving and living up to his nice-guy persona.

Button will get down to business when practice starts tomorrow for the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

He has been here for every Grand Prix since the inaugural race in 2008 and wants it to remain part of the racing calendar for a long time.

The final year of the current deal with Singapore ends in 2017, and speaking a little later, Button said: "Yes. Simple answer, I mean it's probably the most complicated circuit because it's around the streets in Singapore.

"It's a very special race because it's closed, so you can get close to the fans and the fans can get a lot closer to the action.

"So it will be a shame if this is not renewed. It's the first night race. It deserves to be renewed."

Big things were expected of him after he won the driver's championship with Brawn GP seven years ago.

But he has never hit the heights again and some have called him an underachiever, while others have been even crueller, labelling his title triumph as a fluke.

Button is hardly bothered.

When asked by The New Paper if he felt he had underachieved, the 36-year-old said: "No, obviously. I am very happy with winning one world championship.

STARSTRUCK: Jenson Button (in white) surprising Esso Synery Supreme+ surpise winner Yasser Abdul Razak with an exclusive gift pack at the Esso petrol station at Toa Payoh Lorong 2. PHOTO: ST  

SABBATICAL

"If I had the chance to win another world championship, I would go for it and I would give it my all.

"But when it comes to winning more than one world championship, you need to be in the right place at the right time and I haven't been in the right place at the right time."

The likeable racer will be taking a sabbatical for a year, with an option to return to McLaren as a driver in 2018.

"I've been doing this job for 17 years now, for once I'd like to live life not by the Formula 1 schedule," he said, revealing an interest in becoming an amateur triathlete.

Excitement is building here over the possibility of a scrap between Mercedes aces Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on Sunday along the Marina Bay street circuit.

When asked what he thought Rosberg had to do to beat reigning champion Hamilton, Button laughed and simply said: "He just needs to drive faster."

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