Button virtually guarantees Williams third place

Jenson Button finished fifth in Japan to give the Williams team two vital points that will almost certainly give them third in the constructors' championship.

Button virtually guarantees Williams third place

Twenty-year-old Button fell two places to seventh after fumbling his start, but in the changing conditions recovered to finish fifth. Williams have now scored points in all but one of the last eight races and the extra two scored in Japan puts them 16 points ahead of Benetton with just the season finale in Malaysia to go.

"My start was absolutely disastrous, " said Button. "It was one of my worst this season, but I got back to fifth by overtaking Ralf who had a problem."

Button earned lavish praise for his performance from hard-to-please Technical Director Patrick Head. "Jenson did an extraordinary job considering the circumstances and the changing conditions in the rain," he said. "He drove an absolutely brilliant, very mature race and thoroughly deserved fifth position."

Button moved to eighth in the champion with 12 points - half of the total scored by his teammate Ralf Schumacher, who spun off when blocked by a dithering Minardi. "The track was very slippery in the rain and I went off twice through my own fault," said the German. "Then Gene couldn't decide which way to let me through and braked unexpectedly and I went off. At least he came to find me to say sorry, which I appreciate."

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