Jenson Button still has the capacity to build on his strong 2011 F1 campaign - that is the view of close friend and training partner Andy Priaulx, who believes that the Briton is in the best form of his career.
Button finished a distant second to Sebastian Vettel
in last year's world championship, but got the better of McLaren
team-mate Lewis Hamilton
in the process, achieving something no other driver - Fernando Alonso
included - had managed in the previous four seasons. Both Britons won three races apiece, but Button's superior second half, when Hamilton was embroiled in his darkest days, proved enough for the older man to pull away, also climbing above both Alonso and Mark Webber
in the process.
According to Priaulx, a neighbour and training partner of Button's in Jersey, the 2009 world champion is better equipped than he was in his title year, and perfectly placed to launch a renewed assault on the crown in 2012, despite Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso being joined among the ranks of former champions in opposition by both Michael Schumacher and the returning Kimi Raikkonen.
"He joined McLaren
as the guy supposedly slower than Lewis, and I am very pleased to say he shut up all his critics very quickly," Priaulx told Sky Sports
, "I always knew he would, but it's nice to let your results do the talking.
"He has the utmost respect for Lewis, and he knows he is massively quick, but Jenson is also quick and clever, and you need both to win races and championships. I've enjoyed watching him develop at McLaren, and I said to him last year 'I think you're still improving', and he has proved to me he is.
"As for this year, he's very positive. Mentally, I don't think I've ever seen him in a better place, the last six months especially - and I've known him since he was 21. I'm sure he'll be as strong [in 2012], if not better."