On the eve of a race that some observers contend could either make or break the defence of his F1 World Championship crown, Jenson Button has asserted that although the odds are slightly stacked against him following his unceremonious removal from second place in the Belgian Grand Prix a fortnight ago at the hands of Sebastian Vettel, he will keep on fighting for the title until it is no longer mathematically within reach.
The moment that Vettel's out-of-control Red Bull Racing RB6 splintered into the side of Button's McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 on lap 16 of 44 in the Ardennes dealt a significant blow to the latter's chances of making it back-to-back drivers' trophies in F1 2010, but whilst he has now slipped to some 35 points adrift of world championship-leading team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, the British star is adamant that he can by no means by counted out with 150 points still to play for – and with McLaren widely-tipped to set the pace in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
“I think if you look at Spa, our car works very well in low-downforce [trim],” the 30-year-old reflected, admitting that no decision has yet been taken regarding whether or not to run the F-duct this weekend, notwithstanding 'a lot of testing in the simulator and a lot of set-up work'. “It is an efficient car, so there is no reason why we won't be competitive here. We do know that this circuit is a very good circuit for us and we should be fighting at the front, and everything points towards that. We had a couple of tougher races where we weren't quite as competitive as a couple of the other top teams, but if you look at Spa there was nothing quicker than our car.
“The team have done a great job of improving the car; some of it is because of the improvements, and the other side of it I think is also because of the lower-downforce circuits. We are efficient on these sorts of circuits. They suit our car, so I am positive for the rest of the season. This (Monza) is one where we are very low-downforce and then we go to a circuit where you are putting the downforce back on, so it is a big, big change – but we have had a lot of time to improve the car since before the [mid-summer] break, so we go to Singapore positive that we will still be competitive.
“It is amazing how much talk there is about the difference at the front back to fourth place or back to third place. That talk has only been for two weeks as it has only been one race that has changed the championship, if you like. It can easily go around the other way. We have got six races to go, so it only needs one race really for the leaders to have a bad race. Realistically, I don't think we need the leaders to have an incident or to not score or to have a reliability issue. We know there are still a lot of possibilities and that it is necessary to be fighting for a win at every race we go to, but that is my aim.
“It's obviously not over until there aren't enough points left on the board to win the championship. I'm in a different position to the one I was in last season. I had a lead [going into] this race last season, but now I'm the man chasing. The difference is that I think I now have a more competitive car than I had at the end of last season, so there are a lot more possibilities.
“The good thing is that there are also a lot of people fighting for the championship – there are five of us, I would say – so it's pretty mixed at the front. As you can see, there's been quite a lot of action this year because the cars have been pretty close on occasions. Yeah, it's all still to play for. I don't think you can just say it's the next two races that will either put me in the championship hunt or out of it, [though] obviously if I didn't finish the next two races it would be a big issue.
“I think I come into this race pretty relaxed and calm, under no pressure and excited about the challenge of fighting for victory round here. That has to be the aim, and at the moment I feel we are in a strong position – the car is working very well, and we are not fearing anything.”