Jenson Button says he never expected to reach 300 Formula 1 race starts, ahead of the milestone weekend at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The British driver joined F1 in 2000 with Williams, before stints at Benetton, Renault, BAR and Honda. He then won the 2009 title with Brawn GP.
Since 2010 he has raced for McLaren but he will spend a year away from F1 next season, before a possible return in 2018.
Button admitted that when his former F1 team-mate Rubens Barrichello hit 300 races, he thought it was “unbelievable” and never expected his career to go on for so long when he started out.
“That’s a good question that deserves a very long answer and I’m not going to give it to you here,” he said in Thursday’s FIA press conference.
“It means I have been around for a hell of a long time. I remember when Rubens got to 300 – it was unbelievable that he’d reached 300 grands prix. I was like, ‘I’m never going to race for that long’.
“I remember when I started in 2000 – I’m not going to give you my life story – but when I started in 2000 I remember speaking to my dad and he said: ‘How long do you think you’re going to race for?’ and I said: ‘No! I’ll be done by the time I’m 30 years old.’
“And here I am at 36 and this weekend I’m starting my 300th grand prix. It definitely sucks you in, Formula 1. It doesn’t let go for a long time, as long as you are performing.
“So it’s been a great ride to 300. Lots of ups and downs, as every career will have, and the important thing is that you stay on top of those bad times and you enjoy the good times as much as you can, because you never know how long they are going to last.
“A very exciting career to this point, 300 races, and if any of these guys can achieve it around me, fair play to them, because it’s a long time doing the same thing.”