Jenson Button has again attempted to ramp up the pressure on F1 points leader Mark Webber, by reminding the Australian what a difficult role that of 'the hunted' can be.
Speaking from experience after clinging tenaciously to top spot in the 2009 championship when his Brawn GP car fell off the pace in the second half of the season, Button insists that not previously having been the pacesetter in a title fight might weigh heavily on Webber's mind. The Red Bull Racing driver returned to the top of the table following the Belgian Grand Prix in late August, but was fortunate to claim sixth and third place finishes in Italy and Singapore while erstwhile rival Lewis Hamilton failed to score.
Now, with four races remaining, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - a double world champion already - has emerged as Webber's closest rival, closing to within eleven points following back-to-back victories, and Button believes that that sort of experience could be a crucial factor.
"There are a lot of very talented drivers in F1 and when you feel you are under pressure you can make mistakes, so it could possibly make a difference," Button was quoted as saying by MSN
, "We all say that Lewis, Fernando and myself, we have all won a championship, so maybe that is less pressure - I don't really know. But I feel a lot more relaxed this year than I did last year.
"Mark has found himself in a position where he is leading the world championship and has worked very hard for that, but it is a very stressful position to be in. And no disrespect to Mark, he is a very talented driver, but it is a position he has never found himself in before. We will see how he copes over the next few races. He has a very quick team-mate as well, and is trying to claw points back on him. So there will be a lot of action over the next few races."
Perhaps referring to Webber's collision with Hamilton while dicing for a podium position in Singapore, Button - the one driver not to have made a significant mistake in the title battle this season - pointed out that combining competitiveness with caution will be the key to success.
"It is about keeping your car clean with no tyre marks on it, but also pushing it to the limit and getting the most points you can," he confirmed, "It is a tricky compromise - but that is what makes it fun."