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Emotional podium finish for Button 21 Mar 2004

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR celebrates his third position and first podium finish on the podium.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21 March 2004

It has been a long time coming, but that made Jenson Button’s first podium finish – with third place in the Malaysian Grand Prix – even sweeter for the young British driver.

“Amazing,” he told the post-race press conference, “it’s as much the team’s as mine, they’ve worked so hard for this. I’m ecstatic.”

Button put in a decent qualifying performance to take sixth place on the grid during the Saturday sessions. But with the two Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello ahead of him, plus the Williams of Montoya, the McLaren of Raikkonen and Webber’s hard-charging Jaguar, that did not look enough for a strong finish.

Button’s race got off to a thrilling start, banging wheels with Trulli’s Renault in the run down to the first corner.

“I touched Jarno just after the start,” he explained, “so that was a little bit worrying, I thought something might be wrong.”

Fortunately for Button, his hard-fought drive coincided with a run of bad luck for his rivals. Mark Webber suffered an appalling start, suffered a puncture after contact with Ralf Schumacher and then received a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. And Kimi Raikkonen’s hopes faded when his car suffered from mechanical failure.

But Button’s first podium won him widespread acclaim from throughout the pitlane, fellow British driver David Coulthard leading the tributes: “it’s a great feeling, I’m very happy for him.”

With nine points from two races, Button now lies fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.