Despite having scored just a paltry three points over the course of the 2008 Formula 1 campaign, Jenson Button has revealed that he has his sights set considerably higher in 2009 - with podiums the very minimum of his objectives.

The British star - who came third in the world championship as little as four years ago - has not finished up on the rostrum now for two seasons, or a staggering 36 races, and this year ended proceedings as the lowest-placed of all the manufacturer team drivers in the final standings.

That has largely been the fault of the uncompetitive machinery Honda has put at his disposal in both 2007 and 2008 - his best finish a lowly fifth place in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last year - but he is optimistic that 2009 will be a different story.

The Japanese outfit abandoned all significant development of the unloved RA108 early on in the campaign, leaving its designers and engineers free to focus their efforts on next year's car - an approach Button is convinced will reap dividends, even if he has still to ink a deal to remain at the Brackley-based concern for another season.

"Ross [Brawn - team principal] has said we will get podiums hopefully and be at the same sort of level as BMW," the 28-year-old told UK newspaper The Sun. "That's the aim, but I'm hoping for a bit more.

"Pressure is a good thing, and there's no use going into next season thinking that we can maybe get some points. We need to be positive, and I would like to go into next season very positive and thinking that we can challenge for wins.

"It might not happen - we won't know until we get there - but we need to be thinking positively about next season and everything we do with this 2009 car. It's going very well, and I really can't wait to get out there and test it."

Reflecting on a second poor campaign in the top flight in as many years - that has led to some rather uncharitably dubbing him the 'forgotten man' of F1 - Button admitted that it had been tough to maintain his motivation at times when all concerned knew there was precious little hope of battling for points, let alone anything else.

He did, though, argue the experience would only make him stronger than his rivals when he does finally have a competitive machine in his hands.

"It was a difficult test, I remember," the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix winner reflected of the first time he took to the track in Honda's 2008 challenger, "but I also knew that things would get better. I thought they'd get better a little bit sooner, but we knew we didn't have much time to work with the '08 car and Ross didn't have any input into it really.

"It's difficult when you know the car's not going to perform, but I'm a racing driver so every time I get in the car I still do the best job I possibly can. It's tough - it really is - but I've coped and I've still got one of the best jobs in the world, even if I'm not in a car in which I can really show my talents off.

"Halfway through the season it got worse, because we decided we were going to concentrate on the 2009 car. The problems that I had with the car I couldn't improve because of that, but I understood also that I'd rather go into 2009 with a very competitive car that I could be up at the front with, rather than getting one or two scraps and one or two points in '08.

"[People] can say what they like; it doesn't really matter to me. I know how talented I am - the team can see that - and you don't win a race in Formula 1 if you're not talented. I've had a tough few years, and I've been in a situation in which the front-runners like Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton haven't. I think I'm a stronger driver for it, though, and when I am at the front you'll see why.

"It's been a very tough season mentally, but we've learned a lot this year and we'll put that to good use next year. I'm happy with the way things are and I'm looking forward to the new season."

Earlier this week Button suggested that had he been driving for McLaren-Mercedes this year, he would have been the 2008 F1 World Champion [see separate story - click here].


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