2009 Formula 1 World Championship leader Jenson Button is still refusing to countenance lifting the drivers' laurels at season's end, despite having now triumphed in five of the opening six races of the campaign – and he predicts his greatest threat to glory on home turf at Silverstone will be Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
Button's peerless victory in the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend has earned the British star a 16-point lead over Barrichello in the title chase, and 28 over Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel, the first non-Brawn driver in the standings. That has installed the 29-year-old as overwhelming favourite to clinch the crown, especially as the ex-Honda F1 outfit's superiority shows no signs of diminishing any time soon – but after so long spent in the doldrums with uncompetitive machinery at his disposal, the man himself is adamant that he is taking absolutely nothing for granted.
“If you stop asking me the same questions over and over again about winning the world championship, I might be able to concentrate on the next race,” he insisted. “I'm taking it as it comes – nothing's changed. I don't know what would change if I did think about the world championship to be fair. I'm enjoying myself, as you can imagine, and I'm just looking forward to the next weekend in Turkey. I think we are looking very strong for the next few races.”
After Istanbul, of course, comes Silverstone, and if Button confessed in the wake of his Monte Carlo success that winning around the challenging, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality had meant more than it would at most other circuits, then assuredly the top step of the rostrum in front of his adoring partisan supporters in the British Grand Prix would be an even more seminal moment still.
What's more, despite having never finished on the podium on British soil in nine previous appearances – and not in the points at all since 2005 – the Frome-born ace is now guaranteed to arrive at the celebrated 'Home of British Motor Racing' in the lead of the world championship. Barrichello, by contrast, has achieved five rostrums at the Northants track in seasons past – including a memorable victory for Ferrari back in 2003 – and rates it as his favourite on the calendar. Button is well aware that he will be in for a tough fight.
“That's a great feeling,” he enthused of the prospect of arriving at Silverstone atop the points table. “I always love the British Grand Prix. It is obviously my proper home grand prix, and even when you're not competitive and things are going tough you still get a lot of support there, being British. Also, going there having won five races will be a nice feeling, and hopefully there will be lots of Brawn caps out there. I think they've only just gone on sale, but it would be nice to see a couple out there.
“It's a special race, whether you're in a good car or a not so good car, but turning up there winning the championship is going to be a nice feeling and hopefully I'll put on a good show in front of the home crowd. This guy (Barrichello) is going to be tough to beat there. I think he's beaten me every year he's been my team-mate, but I will give it a good go...”