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OCTOBER 19, 2000

Button bids for champagne farewell at Williams

FORMULA 1's rookie sensation Jenson Button is fired-up for a podium finish at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, his farewell to the BMW-Williams team that gave him a golden opportunity in 2000.

The 20-year-old Briton's make-or-break season has been the success story of the year, in which he has come to outclass even team leader Ralf Schumacher. With his single season deal at Williams coming to an end Button now prepares for life at Benetton-Renault in 2001, but as a leaving present he's desperate to repay the team he leaves by overtaking former world champion Jacques Villeneuve to take seventh place in the drivers' championship. To achieve that he would need to finish at least third.

"Jacques is only three points in front, so it's a possibility and that's what I'm going for," said Button. "I'm not going to do anything too stupid, but I might still overtake Jacques in the championship.

"As this is my last race of the season with BMW-Williams I would love to go out on a high. I want to go one step further than I have done so far this year. I want to finish on the podium."

Button also admitted that to finish third at Sepang would cap what he has considered to be a tough debut season in Formula One.

He added: "Before the season I was thinking that perhaps this is going to be easy because I was always on the pace of the front runners. But when we got to the first race they all stepped up a gear and I really had to push a lot harder than I thought I would need to. It has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Formula One is a tough sport."