Jenson Button is on-course to claim 'a hollow victory' in the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, opines former grand prix star Derek Warwick – unless he swiftly regains the upper hand over Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello between now and season's end.
Though Button heads into the final four grands prix of the campaign – beginning with F1's second-ever night race in Singapore this weekend – with an ostensibly comfortable 14-point margin over Barrichello in the title standings, that advantage has been substantially eroded of late. The British star last stood atop the rostrum following the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul all the way back in early June, and since then he has tallied just 19 points to the Brazilian's total of 31.
What's more, whilst Barrichello has twice triumphed over that period, Button has registered a sole podium finish – in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza just under a fortnight ago – and has found himself out-qualified by the driver of the sister BGP 001 five times in the last six outings. That, Warwick contends, could just be his fatal flaw.
“I think Jenson will win the world championship,” the former Toleman, Renault, Brabham, Arrows, Lotus and Footwork ace told Crash.net Radio
, “but what's disappointing for me is that he's allowing his team-mate to out-qualify him. I would never, ever allow my team-mate to be quicker than me, and that's what's happening.
“What he's got to do is start getting in front of Rubens and win this championship with his head high, because at the moment, if he wins the championship following Rubens home for the rest of the year, I think it will be a bit of a hollow victory. I want to see the real Jenson Button come to the front, like we did at the start of the season.
“This race is between the two Brawns. Red Bull haven't got the pace in the car; I don't know where they've gone wrong, but for sure they must be bitterly disappointed with their performance and their reliability with the Renault engines. I think it's a two-horse race now. I'm British, so I want Jenson to win, but I want him to win in style, a bit like Lewis Hamilton, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, all those guys – in style, please.”
On the subject of Hamilton – who Button stands to emulate should he lift the laurels, thereby making it back-to-back British successes at the highest level for the first time since 1969 – Warwick was unequivocal, adamant that despite the McLaren-Mercedes ace's trials and tribulations this season, from lying to race stewards in Melbourne to his last lap crash at Monza, he remains very much the real deal.
“My opinion of Lewis Hamilton has never changed,” stressed the 55-year-old, a veteran of 147 starts in the top flight himself. “He's a great driver, a great talent, a great human, a good test driver, very fast and always committed – we saw that at Monza.
“There are a few people who would criticise what he did at Monza, but for me, he only wants to win the world championship, he only wants to win races and he was going for second place. I think he's got better, stronger, braver and more mature – and for me he's going to be one of the greatest British drivers ever.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE