Seemingly acknowledging on the eve of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix that the successful defence of his hard-fought F1 drivers' world championship crown is now a forlorn hope, Jenson Button has vowed simply to 'go and have fun' in the final two outings of 2010 – before 'coming back stronger' in 2011.
It was at Interlagos last year that Button finally lifted the laurels that had been heading his way all season, courtesy of a stirring charge through the field from a lowly 14th spot in qualifying to fifth at the chequered flag – but twelve months on, the British star stands to concede his title, for unless he outscores current world championship leader Fernando Alonso by 18 points or more, it will be gone. Still, he muses, at least he has won it once.
“You can't plan to sing that badly, can you?” he quipped in an interview with BBC Sport
, recollecting his widely-broadcast rendition of the Queen classic 'We are the Champions' on the slowing-down lap in Brazil in 2009. “In my defence, it is quite difficult singing with a crash helmet on!
“You become a lot more confident [as champion]. I wasn't so confident at making decisions before; this year I have had more of an opinion, and that's important. My life has been a lot busier, but I'm more relaxed. I'm still hungry, but I'm in a position where I have already won the world championship, which is what I set out to do 23 years ago.
“Someone said to me in Brazil, 'so how does it feel that you possibly could lose the championship here?' I said: 'That is not entirely true – it's possible that I won't be the reigning world champion next year, but I'll always be world champion.'
“All the way through my career, I said that I wanted to win the world championship. I never said I want to win it ten times. You don't plan for whatever happens. Of course I want to win it again. Now it is very difficult for me to continue fighting for it [in 2010], but I'm going to come back stronger.”
Before that, though, the man who did lead the standings earlier on in the campaign off the back of his brilliant tactical triumphs in Australia and China has a few scores to settle – number one amongst which is the fact that he has not mounted the top step of the rostrum since that rainy day in Shanghai six-and-a-half months ago.
With his pride requiring a boost, it is clear that the 30-year-old is eager to taste the winner's champagne at least one more time before the year is out – and to achieve that, he equally recognises that both he and McLaren-Mercedes will need to rev things up a notch.
“I was a mess last year at this point of the season,” Button is quoted as having said by The Guardian
. “It was pretty stressful, especially being in Brazil in my team-mate's home country – but the McLaren was super-quick here last year even when they didn't have a very competitive car, so I think we can still qualify well. We need to qualify on the front row – that's the important thing. If we don't qualify on the front row, it is very difficult.
“I have got to go and have fun, just enjoy myself and see what result we can bring back. This is a fun circuit to race on and I really enjoyed racing here in the past. Last year was a rollercoaster, so I would really like to have a good race here and I would like to win as a matter of honour. It's been a long time since I've won a race.
“If you look at the table, what I have got to do is win while pretty much all of the other drivers have got to crash into each other – but I'll give that a go.”