Hero's welcome for world champ
PUBLISHED: 10:46 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 August 2010
HUNDREDS of jubilant fans greeted new F1 World Champion Jenson Button with a hero s welcome at Bluewater Shopping Centre, two days after he clinched the title. Button, 29, crowned World Champion in Brazil on Sunday, signed autographs and answered questio
HUNDREDS of jubilant fans greeted new F1 World Champion Jenson Button with a hero's welcome at Bluewater Shopping Centre, two days after he clinched the title.
Button, 29, crowned World Champion in Brazil on Sunday, signed autographs and answered questions from his supporters during the visit to the shopping centre on Tuesday.
The Brawn GP driver came fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix, giving him enough points to take the title, a year after it went to fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking to the world's press hours after landing back on British soil in a private jet owned by Brawn team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, he said: "It feels quite surreal to be back. I got off the plane, and came straight here.
"This weekend has been very special for myself, and for everyone that has been involved in my career since the beginning.
"It is what everyone wants to achieve in their career as a racing driver. I have been racing for 21 years with this goal in mind. It's great to be back here, seeing you guys is great, but to see the fans is to me more important for sure.
"It is fantastic to have brought the championship back to the UK, as a driver and for the constructor's championship for Brawn."
During his day long visit to Bluewater he was joined by soul singer Joss Stone, who is from Devon near where the F1 star was born, and model Jodie Kidd.
The champ's appearance is part of a seven-day series of events sponsored by Virgin Media, called Speedweeek50.
After greeting his fans, Button also wowed crowds by racing a Mercedes SL AMG around a bespoke high speed circuit set up at Bluewater.
Mark Chamberlain, 38, of Riverdale, Bexley, was one nearly 400 fans who had made the trip to see Button before he flies out for the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month.
He said: "I am a big fan of Formula One and of Jenson Button and when he won the title on Sunday it was pure elation.
"I have never ever seen him drive like that in all the years I have been following him, and it's great to be here today to see him."
BBC presenter David Croft conducted the question and answer session in the late afternoon before his visit ended.