Formula One driver Jenson Button says he had to confront a “very, very drunk” Sir Richard Branson after the tycoon touched his model girlfriend’s face at a posh restaurant.
Button said the incident occurred at high-end Japanese restaurant Nobu with his then girlfriend Jessica Michibata at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.
Writing in his new book, Button said team sponsor Branson had made his girlfriend “uncomfortable” after the driver had gone to the toilet.
“His Royal Highness Sir Richard Branson was arriving,” Button wrote of the businessman approaching their table.
“And he was very, very drunk.
“I had to make a toilet visit so I didn’t see what happened next, which was that he leaned over to Jessica and told her, ‘Stop staring at me.’
“She pointed out that she wasn’t staring at him. ‘Stop staring at me,’ he insisted.
“Although Jessica was a model she was quite shy, so this was making her feel uncomfortable.
“Especially when Sir Richard followed up his blatant flirting by putting his hand on her face.”
Button’s entourage told Branson to leave or risk getting “chinned” when the driver returned from the toilet, Button wrote.
In the book extract published by the the Daily Telegraph today, Button said he was not in the habit of “punching knights of the realm in Nobu”.
But he said he was furious to return to see “His Excellency with his hand on my girlfriend’s face”.
Button recalls: “’Hold on’, I said, ‘that’s enough. That’s well out of order’.”
Button acknowledges that Branson had later apologised for his behaviour and said that he gave up alcohol after.