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Button will dig deep and fight back, reckons Hill

Jenson Button is more than capable of gathering himself together and getting his Formula 1 World Championship challenge on-track again between now and season's end to make it back-to-back British successes in the top flight – that is the view of 1996 title-winner Damon Hill, who predicts a thrilling end to the 2009 campaign.

Following his early-season flourish – triumphing six times from the opening seven races – Button has now not mounted the rostrum at all since Istanbul back in June, and indeed has notched up a mere eleven points from the last five outings. That compares to respectively 21, 24 and 24 for closest challengers Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber – meaning with five grands prix remaining and an ever-more precarious-looking advantage, the Brawn GP star's bid for glory is threatening to derail. Hill, however, is confident it will not ultimately come to that.

“I wouldn't put it that strongly,” the 49-year-old told Crash.net Radio, when asked if his countryman is on the verge of throwing away what is comfortably the best opportunity he has ever had of lifting the laurels. “I think he's had a mid-season lull, but it was difficult to keep up the rate of success that he enjoyed back at the start of the season. He still has a lead, and I think you'll find that things will pick up towards the end of the season.

“I think it's a good thing that there are more contenders in the championship fighting over race wins, which plays into his favour a little bit, but I'm sure he'll want to establish himself as a true champion and go and win some more races. I think he's going to fight really hard now to hold onto that championship, as well he would.

“I have to say, though, I am cheering bit for the old boys! Rubens is such a lovely guy, he races with his passion and he's shown that he's got the pace and that he's far from finished yet. I think that's terrific to see, and also it's thrown a bit more spice into the championship fight for us.”

Over in the Red Bull Racing garage, meanwhile, team principal Christian Horner is facing the dilemma of choosing which driver to back in the chase for the crown, with Vettel and Webber currently separated by a scant 1.5 points in the German's favour, and the momentum between the pair see-sawing from one race to the next. Despite the fact that time is beginning to run out, Hill believes it is still too early to know in which of the two baskets the energy drinks-backed outfit's eggs should be placed.

“I think it would make sense if you're challenging for a world title that you put some emphasis on your lead driver,” the 22-time grand prix-winner acknowledged, “but I don't know if it's as easy as that. I think it's too close to call at the moment. They both still could win grands prix, and that's ten points – the possible swings are too big.

“Both Brawn and Red Bull will be working flat-out at the factory I would think between now and the end of the season, to find that extra bit of aero advantage or whatever they can find. It's going to be hard work.”

One interloper who could come into play in terms of influencing the title tussle, Hill adds, is reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who is refusing to altogether write off his own hopes of successfully defending his hard-fought drivers' trophy [see separate story – click here] – “I think you have to talk positive; as long as it's possible, you have to go for that until it's over,” the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) President concurs – whilst the former Williams star also expressed his view on the Renault Singapore Grand Prix scandal that some fear may drive the Régie out of the sport entirely...

“The only thing I'd say,” he mused, “is that if a racing driver was asked to crash his car and he actually did, then I'd have to raise serious questions about whether or not he should be racing at all...”

by Russell Atkins

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
1998 Formula One World Championship. Damon Hill (GB), B&H Jordan Mugen Honda 198. Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, 8th March 1998.
26.11.2015 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
26.11.2015 - Press conference, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E23, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11, Roberto Merhi (ESP) Manor Marussia F1 Team, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30
26.11.2015 - Press conference, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30
26.11.2015 - Press conference, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30
26.11.2015 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
26.11.2015 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
26.11.2015 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
26.11.2015 - Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11
26.11.2015 - Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11
26.11.2015 - Sir Jackie Stewart (GBR) and Graeme Lowdon (GBR) President of Marussia Virgin Racing
26.11.2015 -  Red Bull Racing RB11, detail
26.11.2015 - Mercedes AMG F1 W06, detail
26.11.2015 - Mercedes AMG F1 W06, detail
26.11.2015 - Mercedes` Steering wheel
26.11.2015 - Mercedes AMG F1 W06, detail
26.11.2015 - Pit lane walk
26.11.2015 - Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T

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September 09, 2009 10:55 PM

I'd rather see Barrichello win the WDC! Yes, Jenson won however many races it was he won, but when he was on the top step Rubens was never far behind (unless bad luck played a part), but now that Barichello is performing at his best, Button is no where to be seen. Rubens has been in F1 since 1993 and has never had a decent chance at the WDC so it would be great to see him do it this year. He is, I believe, the number 2 in the team and there are even talks of him being replaced next season so I'd be brilliant to see him win coz of this too. He's a great guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, and also a bloody good racer!!! :p

doesitmatter - Unregistered

September 10, 2009 12:18 PM

Andrewm - wow you are bitter and twisted with your hate of Hamilton and now Hill. Hill hasn't carved a living out of stating the obvious - you clearly haven't noticed the great work he's done for British motor racing whilst trying to get the BRDC into order..and I doubt he approached crash radio either..more likely they knocked on his door with some stupid questions which he kindly entertained. Get a grip.

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