Defending world champion Jenson Button has insisted that he, team-mate Lewis Hamilton and McLaren-Mercedes are 'still very much in the hunt' for the F1 2010 title laurels despite what was by some margin the team's worst outing of the season to-date in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Button arrived at the Hungaroring sitting respectively first and second in the drivers' standings, but following a retirement for the former and an off-colour weekend for the latter – failing to make it beyond Q2 in qualifying, and consequently paying a hefty price on race day as he could manage no better than eighth place around a circuit at which it is notoriously difficult to overtake – they have now slipped to second and fourth.
Having achieved his maiden grand prix triumph in Budapest four years ago, for Button it was very much a case of damage limitation this time around – and whilst McLaren has unquestionably slipped off the pace of both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari in recent races, the 30-year-old is optimistic that the upcoming Spa-Francorchamps and Monza will suit the MP4-25 far better, and that with 175 points remaining up for grabs, nothing is done-and-dusted yet by a long shot.
“It was a very long afternoon,” the British star reflected of the Hungarian Grand Prix, speaking to his personal website before he prepares to participate in Sunday's London Triathlon in aid of the Make A Wish Foundation. “Once again, though, I put some more points on the board – and just by looking at the championship tables and how close they are, it's clear that every point definitely helps.
“If you don't have a good Saturday, then I've learnt that you've got to keep plugging away, and that it can reap dividends for you. Four points might not sound like much, but it means that, despite Sunday's result, I'm still only 14 points behind the championship leader, which is about six points in old money – so it's all to play for.
“It's fantastic to have scored two wins and three podiums and to still be in the thick of the fight for the world championship – that's why I joined this team – but clearly we have some work to do to close the gap to the front. Lewis and I are still very much in the hunt, even if the last few races haven't seemed to favour our car as much as they did earlier this year.
“I know how hard everyone is working back at the McLaren Technology Centre, and I'm confident that we'll be back in the hunt sooner rather than later. I know the strength of this team, and our determination and ambition to hit back. We know what we've got to do, and I'm confident that we'll be more competitive at both Spa and Monza, with more to come once we head off for the 'flyaways'.
“As we've seen before in the fight for the world title, consistency is essential, and I think we've probably been the most consistent team over these 12 races. Obviously we'll be looking at raising our game, but it's still valuable that we're able to maintain that consistency – to be able to score good points even when luck's not on our side – so we can continue to fight for the title until the very end of the season.”