Jenson Button will still be racing for his own championship ambitions when the F1 season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps at the end of August, refusing to accept that the time has come for him to support McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton's revitalised bid.
While Hamilton was winning in Hungary at the weekend, Button struggled home in sixth spot after switching to a three-stop strategy failed to produce gains in the closing stages. Although he had finished second to Fernando Alonso just a week ago in Germany, Button remains 88 points adrift of the Spaniard with nine rounds remaining after the break, while Hamilton moved back into fourth overall, just 47 points shy of the Spaniard.
With 225 points potentially on the table for anyone sweeping the board between Belgium and Brazil, however, the 2009 champion insists that he still has a viable role to play.
"I'm going to help the team get as many points as they can," Button stressed to Britain's Guardian
newspaper, "but, if I am leading a race, then I want to win that race. That's what racing drivers do. We don't have a number one and number two driver in this team, [and] I will not be asked to do anything. Of course, if there comes a time when I can't win, then I will obviously help my team-mate, but there's a long way to go and a long time before I will feel I am in that position."
Despite starting the season with arguably the worst car of the expected title contenders, Alonso has yet to post a DNF in 2012 and, as the Ferrari improves, Button accepts that the Spaniard's rivals are going to need a little luck as well as establishing themselves as the one top take the fight to the double world champion. However, instead of focusing on the title with some four months still to run in the campaign, Button insists that he will be taking each race as it comes.
"Fernando's lead is massive still - he is 40 points ahead of anyone," the Briton noted, referring to Alonso's advantage over second-placed Mark Webber, "Even if he finishes fifth in every race, the guys in front are going to be fighting it out for points. Not one person will win the next four races. He needs a retirement really, but everyone will be taking points off each other.
"There are so many people at the front fighting for victories, [and] I am not thinking about the championship, because it is a long way away. Fernando will be, but he is the only one. The other guys can't, as they have to focus on winning races. I want to enjoy the races and fight for big points. I'm still a chunk behind the second pack, but you can close that gap up pretty easily."