Jenson Button has admitted that there is no question about Sebastian Vettel's speed in an F1 car, but has questioned his all-round ability after being taken out of the Belgian Grand Prix by the Red Bull driver.
Button and Vettel were running second and third behind a fleeing Lewis Hamilton when the German made an attempt to pass at the Bus Stop chicane, but the move ended in a collision after Vettel's car was unsettled by a bump in the road and slammed into the left-hand side of Button's McLaren. The Briton was out on the spot, and claimed that his title shot had been ruined by the incident, while Vettel continued to endure a problematic race before coming home 15th.
"For me, he has made too many mistakes this year to fight for the world championship, but he is extremely quick, we can't take that away from him," Button told Reuters
, "To get seven poles is extraordinary in the amount of races we've had - but to throw that many away is also very surprising."
Vettel remains third in the drivers' standings, but is now 31 points adrift of leader Hamilton after failing to score in three of the 13 rounds held so far and seeing potential victories go begging in others. Despite the expanding gap between the German and team-mate Mark Webber, who finished second to Hamilton on Sunday and now lies three points adrift of the Briton, Button does not believe that Vettel's title bid will be extinguished by Red Bull just yet.
"I don't think they will [back Webber], I think they love Vettel," he said, "I don't think they will put all their eggs in one basket."
The same situation could soon become a problem at McLaren, where Hamilton holds a 35-point advantage over Button with six races remaining in the 2010 campaign. While Hamilton himself insists that there are too many points on offer to discount any of his four title rivals, Button is also feeling more confident about his chances than he was in Belgium.
"When I got out of the car and walked into my driver's room, I said that [the accident had] massively hurt my championship," he confirmed, "But I was very down at that point, as you would be after losing so many points.
"Looking at it now, it's 35 points, which is still a lot but, in old money, it's about 14 or 15, so it's definitely still possible. I'm in a position now where I've just got to go [to Monza in two weeks' time] and hope for a race victory. If I can come away with [that], then it's a very different atmosphere and feeling for me. It's a circuit I love and where I will do very well this year. I'm confident in the car and I think I'll have a good weekend. I've taken a big knock, but I am positive."