Years of hard slog and failure have made success all the sweeter for Formula One championship leader Jenson Button.
"Coming from what we've had, it's a lot more enjoyable than it happening in my first two years of F1," the Briton, leading the standings for the first time in his 10-season career, told reporters at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
"I wasn't ready then...to win the world championship.
"Now that I have had some tough years, and it has been difficult in more ways than one, it's a very special feeling to have a competitive car and be at the front," added the 29-year-old, who led a Brawn GP one-two in the season-opening Australian race.
The dominant victory in Melbourne was the second of Button's 154 race career and the 10 points eclipsed two dismal years with now-departed Honda in which he scored just nine in total.
Button also struggled at Renault in 2001 and 2002 before being thrown a lifeline by BAR, with whom he finished third overall in 2004.
Mercedes-powered Brawn, the Honda team under new ownership, have been in a league of their own since they started winter testing last month.
Button led from pole position to chequered flag in Melbourne and is favourite to repeat the feat Sunday at a favourite circuit that gave him his first podium in 2004.
"You can say it's easier at the front, because you stay out of trouble a lot more, but it still isn't easy and you still have to fight hard for those victories, which is great," he said.
"It just feels great to be back at the front after so many years."
Button arrived in Formula One with Williams in 2000 as a raw recruit, hailed as with plenty of speed but little experience. Looking back, he recognized how naive he had been.
"I didn't have the experience of racing, really," he said. "I'd raced in single-seaters for two years before F1 and at Williams it was all just like, 'Wow, this is amazing'.
"We didn't really do maybe as much work with the car and understanding the car as we should have done. The pace was reasonably good from the word go so we just thought, 'Right, let's get on with it'.
"I left Williams without that much experience of what to do when things go wrong and that was the biggest problem and it took a couple of years to sink in."
Button said the tough times had made him a more complete package.
"I've experienced more in Formula One than most drivers have, because there have been so many ups and downs. That's great, it makes you a stronger driver for sure," he said.
Despite that, he put the brakes on talk of a lasting championship challenge.
"I don't want the article to say, 'Jenson ready to win the world championship'," he said. "I've had that already this week.
"It's 'Jenson's looking forward to this weekend and getting the best out of what he has'. If things go well we can start looking a bit farther into the future, but at the moment we're one race down."