PARIS (AFP) Jenson Button, who began 2009 in danger of becoming a dole queue millionaire, ended it as world champion after a year where Formula One lurched from one drama to another. Colourful Renault chief Flavio Briatore was banned for life for his role in the infamous 'Crashgate affair while Toyota and BMW called it quits as the global financial crisis continued to bite. After 12 months, it was fitting that the year closed with one, final twist as seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, shrugging off his 41 years, was poised to sign to drive for Mercedes in 2010, the German manufacturer having purchased Brawn GP which had taken Button to his historic title. Button could never have dreamed how the season would unfold after Honda pulled the plug on their F1 operation, a decision that threatened to end the career of a driver who had never realised his potential. But Button won six of the seasons opening seven races to lay the foundation for triumph after Ross Brawn intervened to save the ailing team. Button secured the championship with a fourth-place finish in Brazil and ended the 17-race series in Abu Dhabi in November with 95 points, 11 better than Germanys Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, whose four race wins marked him down as a potential 2010 champion. When I first jumped in a car 21 years ago I never expected to be world champion, said 29-year-old Button, who will drive for McLaren in 2010 alongside 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton. Team principal Brawn was in tears after his roller-coaster year. All the people who couldnt be with us, because we had to re-size the team after the winter, my thanks go to them. I hope theyve enjoyed it because theyve been part of what weve done, said the former Ferrari technical chief. Button, Britains 10th world champion, will battle the weight of history when he starts out on his title defence next year as none of his predecessors have won back-to-back titles. Hamilton endured a tortuous season, having to wait until the 10th race of the season in Hungary to record his first victory. The McLaren star was at the centre of the seasons first scandal when he was accused of lying about an over-taking incident involving Jarno Trulli in the opening race in Melbourne. 'Liegate saw McLarens long-time sporting director Dave Ryan eventually suspended and the driver made an emotional apology after the team was found guilty of deliberately providing misleading information to race stewards. Formula Ones reputation for providing as much intrigue off the track as on it continued to thrive in 2009. Briatore stepped down as Renault chief and was then hit with a lifetime ban after being found to have ordered former driver Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. This decision is a legal absurdity, said Briatore. Also waving goodbye to F1 was FIA chief Max Mosley, who stepped down after 16 years in charge to be replaced by former Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt. Meanwhile, Schumacher had been tipped to return to the sport in mid-year when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa suffered a season-ending horror crash in Hungary. Fitness concerns kept the German legend out of the seat, but he is expected to make a dramatic return with Mercedes in 2010. The German team will one of a number of new faces on the grid with Richard Bransons Virgin lining up alongside Campos, who will have Bruno Senna, the nephew of triple world champion Ayrton Senna, behind the wheel. US F1 are other new boys while the legendary name of Lotus is also back on the scene.