BRACKLEY, England - Jenson Button was absent from his Formula One team's home town victory parade on Monday but Ross Brawn calmed fears the champion might have gone for good.
"I can give you 99 percent on Jenson Button," the team principal told reporters when asked about Brawn's chances of retaining the 29-year-old Briton next season, repeating a percentage he gave last month.
Brawn have yet to confirm their 2010 lineup, with Button seeking a better deal and Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello moving to Williams in what is likely to be a straight swap for Germany's Nico Rosberg.
Wrapped up in a thick overcoat on a cold and foggy afternoon, Brawn thanked the local community for their support through the dark days after previous owners Honda pulled out last December.
"It's fair to say that I've had some very special days in my career in motor racing and this is in the top of the list. It's fantastic," he said after team members were driven on three open-topped buses through the streets of Brackley to a presentation in the town square.
"I think it's just an amazing contrast we've been through this year, an amazing contrast the local community have been through.
"From the depths of despair over the winter to winning the world championship, I can't think of two greater contrasts; Such a low to such an incredible high," said Brawn.
"It seems to be a championship that's captured the public's imagination because of the circumstances behind it. It's been a wonderful journey."
By March, the former Benetton and Ferrari technical director had completed a management buyout of the team and set the stage for a season like no other with Button winning six of the first seven races of the year.
On Monday, with dignitaries presenting Brawn and his chief executive Nick Fry with pictures and a cake as the crowd cheered, there was no doubting the depth of local support for their team.
Schools emptied, pubs had banners of congratulations and thanks as the town turned out to wave flags and cheer. A painting of Brawn racing cars covered the boarded-up window of a bakery.
"A small British market town and all out here in the Brawn colours -- its absolutely marvellous," said local resident Roger Smith.
It was a far cry from the last time Brawn was in such a position.
"I was lucky enough to win the championship in 1994 with Benetton and we came back to (the factory at) Enstone and there were some buses outside," he recalled.
"But they were all protesters because Michael (Schumacher) had knocked (Britain's) Damon Hill off.
"That was the welcome I got for the world championship in 1994. So this has been fabulous today, certainly one of the best days in my history."