Suzuka, Japan, Oct 9, 2011 (AFP) - Briton Jenson Button described his victory for McLaren in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday as one of the highlights of his career.
The 2009 world champion had been the form driver through practice at Suzuka on Friday and Saturday, but was edged to pole position by German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull by just 0.009secs on Saturday afternoon.
Button dropped to third behind teammate Lewis Hamilton in the race to the first corner in Suzuka, but took the lead from Vettel after emerging from his pit stop on lap 21.
He controlled the race from there, eventually winning by 1.1secs from Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari to claim his third victory of the season.
Button said winning for the first time in 10 visits to Suzuka was a special moment.
"It's probably not as emotional as winning my home Grand Prix, but it's pretty close," he said.
"Especially around a circuit like this. This circuit is phenomenal.
"From the first lap out in practice, you've just got the biggest smile on your face because it's such a fast and flowing circuit and it has so much history. The crowd here are amazing, so it's a very emotional victory."
Button felt Vettel was too robust in defending his position on the run to the first corner, complaining to his team over the pit-to-car radio that the German should be penalised for squeezing him towards the grass and forcing him to lose a position.
The two drivers shared an animated but amicable discussion about the start in the post-race press conference, and while Button was reluctant to pursue the matter further after the race, he said he was surprised by Vettel's forceful approach.
"I got a very good start and Seb didn't, and I think he realised immediately that he didn't get a very good start and started coming across," Button said.
"He kept coming, kept coming and I thought in the end he was going to stop, as I was halfway alongside him. He didn't stop, so I got onto the grass and had to back out, because it would have been an almighty shunt into turn one.
"I was a bit surprised as he said he didn't see me until he saw me backing out, and if that's the truth, then that's one of those things. I got out of there and a lost a place which was disappointing, but in a way it's quite nice fighting your way back through."
While Vettel cemented his second consecutive title on Sunday, Button maintained second in the drivers' championship, eight points ahead of Alonso with four races remaining.
But he said winning races was his goal, rather than a coming second in the championship.