F1 »

Button insists Vettel still catchable

Jenson Button believes that his McLaren team has the potential to take the world championship fight to current leader Sebastian Vettel after finishing second in Malaysia.
Sebastian Vettel's consistency over the opening two rounds of the 2011 F1 season has given the reigning world champion a comfortable 24-point cushion at the top of the standings but, as Jenson Button pointed out, there is still a long way to go.

The Briton followed Vettel across the line in round two at Sepang over the weekend, but was quick to suggest that rivals to the Red Bull driver needed to start recording solid results if they were to prevent him wrapping up a second title well before the end of the season. Button's 18 points from Malaysia were enough to lift him into second in the table, with Vettel's RBR team-mate Mark Webber, despite not yet featuring on the podium, into third as the top eight from Australia found itself shuffled at Sepang.

Lewis Hamilton, who chased Vettel home in Melbourne, suffered a torrid end to Sunday's race that saw him drop to seventh on the road, while Vitaly Petrov, who had left Australia third in the running order, crashed out late on while poised for more points. In their place, Button was following up a frustrated sixth in Melbourne while Nick Heidfeld, who denied Webber a podium shot, did not even score 'down under'.

As a result, Vettel heads to this weekend's third round in China with 24 points in hand over the 2009 world champion, with Webber a further four points behind. Hamilton is level on points with the Australian, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa on 20 and 16 respectively, just ahead of the well-matched Lotus Renault pair.

"At this moment in time, yes, Sebastian [is] the person to beat," Button said, with no hint of irony, "He's won two races out of two and nobody else has been consistent. He's got a 24-point lead and that's a lot after two races, but there are still another 17 to go, maybe 18."

With successive second places after a dismal pre-season, Button appeared confident that he and Hamilton would be best-placed to hunt Vettel down over the remainder of the campaign, even though Webber remains a threat and both Ferrari and Renault continue to show potential.

"Of course, the Red Bulls' pace is very good, [and] I think, in terms of pace we, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, are the second best, but I think we need to find some improvements. That's in the pipeline. It's exciting for us that we've made some good improvements already and, hopefully, in China, we can make a really good race of it.

"It was very important [to kick-start my season here]. The first race didn't really go my way - it was frustrating and I made a mistake, got a drive-through for it, and had to find my way back through. It was just one of those races, but the pace of the car was very good so I came here looking for a good result. Until the last lap, I was still trying to fight for the victory - I know it was a long shot, but you've got to give it a go.

"I'm happy to take away 18 points. It gives me confidence, not just to come away with second place, but that the feeling of the car is good. We need to improve, but the feeling of the car is good and that's important to me. We've only got a few days before the next race, but we're doing everything we can to make the small improvements and the details that we can and, hopefully, have a better race in China."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
10.04.2011- Race, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 leads Felipe Massa (BRA), Scuderia Ferrari, F-150 Italia
10.04.2011- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 leads Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
10.04.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 2nd position and Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31  3rd position
09.04.2011- Qualifying,Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
10.04.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner and Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 2nd position
09.04.2011- Saturday Practice, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
McLaren - Honda MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 F1 launch, [Credit: McLaren]
McLaren MCL32, McLaren-Honda, [Credit: McLaren]
Fernando Alonso - McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
McLaren Honda MCL32
Lando Norris joins McLaren`s Young Driver Programme
McLaren, 2011 launch, [Credit: Crash PA]

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

sokudo - Unregistered

April 11, 2011 5:34 PM

@ your mum, how do you figure? Button had a pretty dire car to start with which is why it dropped back. It got better as the race went on. The reason he didn't overtake anyone on track is because he was fast enough on his outlaps to overtake the cars ahead of him. Plus, his pit crew were brilliant. Good strategy, good pace considering his problems and then good adjustments made by the pit crew and great stops too meant that Button had done all the hard work early. I call that good teamwork. That's something he does better than most if not all the drivers on the grid.

sokudo - Unregistered

April 11, 2011 8:17 PM

@ DAYI, moot point. Lewis' pace was so bad Button would have sailed past him very easily. Plus, it's not like Button's stop was that much quicker. In Malaysia, Mclaren weren't brilliant with their pit stops for either driver. @your mum, Button had problems with a bad setup in the first stint. He did well to stick with the leading pack. The stops were ok but it was Button's pace and strategy that ultimately earned him his positions. Say what you want but with the exception of Webber, Alonso and Hamilton, the latter 2 who were challenging him, nobody who had problems were going to challenge Jense. Plus, as I have mentioned, Button had overtaken and gotten far and away from Alonso and Hamilton before they collided. That 2nd place was on merit.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.