Jenson Button’s hopes of defending his Japanese Grand Prix win have taken a significant hit, with news that the McLaren driver will have to take a five-place grid penalty at this weekend’s Grand Prix.

After finishing a fighting second last time out at Singapore, post-race checks revealed that the Englishman’s gearbox had suffered the same fault that triggered team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s retirement while leading the same race.

While one would marvel that he managed to finish the race at all, his 75-point deficit to championship leader Fernando Alonso means that he will need a sequence of wins over the remaining six races to have any hope of staying in the championship hunt. The news puts a major dent in his championship aspirations.

His Mercedes-bound team-mate Hamilton will also have a new gearbox fitted after his failure at Marina Bay, but because he didn’t see the chequered flag, he won’t incur any grid penalty.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.