Jenson Button has warned that consistency will not be enough in F1 2010 and that 'you can't give a race away this year...you need to be fighting at the front and challenging for victories all the time' – and he makes clear that is precisely what he intends to do in front of his home fans in this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Button will arrive at the celebrated 'Home of British Motor Racing' sitting a close second in the drivers' standings – a mere six markers adrift of McLaren-Mercedes team-mate, compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton – and in positive spirits indeed, palpably revelling in an environment in which many had predicted that he would struggle, some that he would get eaten alive. It is, he acknowledges, going well.
“I don't think you approach the season any differently [having won the world championship], but you definitely grow in confidence knowing you've achieved what you set out to do in your career,” the 30-year-old mused. “I'm a lot more relaxed this year, and we will see if that's a positive at the end of the season! The key is to enjoy what you are doing – I think that brings out the best in you – and I'm really enjoying fighting it out with Lewis and Red Bull.
“I think any driver who has worked with a lot of different teams and has had good and bad experiences throughout his career like I have definitely brings something to a team. I feel very calm this year and content – but also very hungry to succeed. I'm obviously confident in my ability, and I'm with a team that has been fighting at the top for many years.
“If you look at the points, it's going pretty well for us – to be nine races in and first and second in the drivers' championship and leading the constructors' championship too, I don't think we could have asked for any more as a team. For me in my first year with McLaren, I'm very happy to be in the position that I am; I really feel at home in this team, and through working with my engineers I'm building in confidence all the time. It's a nice position to be in coming to the British Grand Prix; it's a very special race for us, and I'm really excited about getting out there in front of our home crowd.
“For me as for most drivers, your main aim is to win the world championship, and then to win in Monaco; I've been able to achieve both of those, so now to win my home grand prix is something I'm looking for. I've never finished on the podium there so I'm looking forward to challenging this weekend, and we have some new parts on the car. We know Red Bull Racing and Ferrari will be really quick too, but our package should lift us into a position where we can fight for victory this weekend.
“A few cars had new parts for the last race, like the special blown diffuser that Red Bull rocked up with back at the start of the season. Those teams are maybe a race ahead of us and have come out very strong, but I think we still did a very good job in Valencia to get two cars on the podium. Here we do need to raise our game, and put performance on the car if we are to challenge Red Bull. That's a challenge, but it's something we've got to do if we want to keep fighting for this championship.”
The exhaust-blown rear end that will be added to the MP4-25 for Silverstone is a significant upgrade, and one that it is hoped will help to propel Button and Hamilton to the very front of the pecking order – from where they hope to duel it out for the top step of the podium.
Whilst the defending world champion acknowledges that McLaren cannot afford to waste any time at all perfecting its new appendage such is the fierce intensity of battle this season, he also recognises that he has his own part to play in improving his qualifying form after being outpaced by his fellow Brit for the past five Saturday afternoons in succession.