Button's team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who last week revealed he will drive for Mercedes in 2013, retired from the last race in Singapore with a gearbox issue.
Button went on to finish second but, when the team looked over his car, they found it had the same problem that had curtailed Hamilton's race. Drivers are required to use the same gearbox for five races; any unscheduled changes are punished by a grid penalty. Although the gearbox on Hamilton's car has also been changed, he will not have to serve a penalty as the problem caused him to retire in Singapore.
The penalty is a blow to Button's hopes of recording back-to-back wins in Japan, and hauling back points in the title race.