Jenson Button admits that he feels powerless to prevent his once-handsome Formula One world championship lead slipping away after suffering his worst qualifying result of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday.
Although the Briton remains 18 points to the good with six rounds remaining in the 2009 campaign, he fears that, unless he can turn around his mid-season slump, his pursuers - currently headed by Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello - will close the gap with ease. While Button managed only 14th place on the grid for Spa-Francorchamps, Barrichello will line up fourth, with Red Bull rivals Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber also in the top ten.
"It's a lead that's going to disappear very quickly if I keep on having bad weekends," the 29-year old admitted to Reuters
, "But, at the moment I can't do anything about it."
Button looked invincible as he won six of the first seven races in 2009, but has seen the BGP001 become an ill-handling nightmare just as his rivals have picked up the pace. Although the re-emergence of McLaren and Ferrari has diluted the pool of potential winners, Button admits that he and Brawn need to find a solution to the problem - and fast.
"We have a couple of weeks before Monza and, hopefully, we can find out the reason," he sighed, "The car doesn't feel like it did earlier in the season. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day [and] nothing matters except [getting some] points. Not getting any points would be pretty disastrous."
The Briton admitted that his decision to stick with the softer tyre compound in the second phase of qualifying possibly contributed most to his early exit.
"Qualifying 14th makes Sunday very difficult, but if you are not quick enough you are not quick enough," he lamented, "I didn't have any pace on the soft tyre, [and] every time I hit the brakes, the rear would move. I just didn't have a balance. It was very strange to be four or five tenths off Rubens. Our cars are different, but not that different. Something is definitely not right."
With little left to try in Belgium, Button revealed that the Brawn team was expecting to go against the grain in an effort to improve his position.
"I think the race pace will be okay, so we are going to try to do something a bit different from everyone else, not just hang back and hope for the best," he confirmed, "We're going to be aggressive."