Jenson Button says he is not expecting to win the World Championship in Japan in the wake of the series of grid penalties that have moved him and teammate Rubens Barrichello down the order.
The Brawn GP duo, plus Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil, were all demoted five places on the grid for the Suzuka race after they failed to slow down through a yellow flag zone in Q2 caused by Sebastien Buemi crashing on the exit of Spoon Corner.
That stewards' decision moves Barrichello and Button provisionally down to 10th and 12th position on the grid, and the British driver admitted late on Saturday night that the situation now makes it unlikely he will take the points he needs to be champion on Sunday.
"It possibly could happen tomorrow, but that is not the way I am looking at it," Button explained. "I am looking at it as any other race – as it is. It is another race.
"If I was able to win the championship, something would seriously have to go wrong with the other drivers – so I am not expecting it. I go into tomorrow just looking forward to scoring points and finishing as high as I can."
Button believes he was correct in not lifting when going through the incident, but he fully respects the reasons why the race stewards punished him.
"From my point of view I did the right thing," he said. "I took avoiding action and when I saw the yellow flag, it was just before where the incident was with the front wing. I moved to one side.
"I thought, for me, it was unsafe to lift off because there could have been a car behind and you also don't want to be moving across the circuit at high speed and lifting. Then, as soon as I passed the front wing I saw the green flag down the circuit, so I knew it was clear – and kept my foot in. That was it.
"The regulations say that you have to slow down enough and you have to lift off the throttle, which I didn't do. So I got penalized. I respect their decision, but for me at that moment in time it was the best thing to do in that one second to make my decision. But I respect the decision.
"I am down in 12th, Rubens is just in front in 10th, and there are a couple of slow cars in front of him. So it is going to be an exciting race for us I think, the first few laps."
Button believes that with Sebastian Vettel having proved so strong in Saturday running, victory for the German on Sunday would put him firmly back in the title hunt.
That is why he has set his own target as simply finishing in the points – which could prove vital in deciding the outcome of the championship battle.
"Vettel is starting in pole, and if he wins the race it puts him in the chase and he is back in the championship hunt," said Button. "And they [Red Bull] are very, very quick around here. They have been quick around here all day, so if [Lewis] Hamilton does not get him off the line I think Vettel will walk it. But we will make the best out of the situation we are in."
He added: "This won't be the only race that gives me the world championship if I am going to win it. It is every single race from here on in. If I finish five points in front of Rubens I can still win the championship, but that is not something I am concentrating on.
"In a straightforward race, Vettel is going to score a lot of points here. We are going to circuits that will suit our car a lot more – Brazil, which is more low-speed corners, but especially Abu Dhabi. Nobody has been there yet, which is exciting to me, and it is a circuit that is very low speed – so it should suit our car.
"It is very exciting and very tense, but this is a moment I should be enjoying, which I am. It is great for F1 obviously seeing Vettel at the front and us back in 10th and 12th."