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.