Jenson Button believes next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix will be an emotional experience. With Japanese model Jessica Michibata his girlfriend, and with Japan now his second home, Button is aware of how the country continues to cope with the natural disaster that struck in March.
It was almost eight months ago a tsunami caused by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake devastated north-east Japan, killing more than 15,000. With that part of the world still looking to rebuild, in particular given the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the title-deciding race on October 9 will prove to be a special event.
"Japan is a place very close to my heart," said Button. "Obviously, it's going to be a very emotional experience for me to be racing in Japan for the first time since the events of last March. "I'm very proud the Formula One world championship will put Japan on the world's sporting stage next weekend.
"While the country is collectively rebuilding itself, I'm deeply aware sport can play a significant role in helping to restore hope and normality to communities that were torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami. "For everyone who follows Formula One, I hope we can put on a great race to bring further strength to the people of Japan. "And to everyone in Japan, I say: ganbatte (do your best)."
Like Button, McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton would also like to think the race will have a positive effect. "We all travel to Japan extremely mindful of the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country earlier this year," said Hamilton.
"I hope the Japanese Grand Prix can successfully show the world the country is strengthening and rebuilding." As for the race itself, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel requires just a point to reclaim his title and become the sports youngest back-to-back and double world champion.