Jenson Button insists that he will be keeping his mind firmly on the on-track aspects of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, as controversy threatens to engulf the stellar start his Brawn GP team has made to the season.

After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the future of the former Honda operation, Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello have been posting table-topping times in testing since the BGP001 was unveiled, but now face the prospect of the car being ruled illegal after protests from rival teams in Melbourne.

"First of all, it's not something that I have any control over personally, and secondly, I think the best person to speak to about that is [team principal] Ross [Brawn]," he told journalists on the eve of practice, "It doesn't change anything for me. I can't do anything about it. It's down to Ross and whoever else is involved."

Such has been the Briton's pace at Jerez and Barcelona that, against the odds, he has been installed as pre-race favourite by some bookmakers. After a winter of wondering if he even had a future in Formula One, it's a role Button is happy to accept.

"It's not a pressure, definitely not - it's a nice feeling," he claimed, "We've done seven days of testing, I've driven the car for three days which normally wouldn't be enough. We've been reliable-ish, so we've been able to get quite a bit done in that time. I feel comfortable in the car, I feel that I've made it quite personal to myself which is good, but we're coming here with an open mind [as], in 2006, we had a quick car in testing and got to the first race and were blown away.

"We should be the underdogs, for sure - being a private team with a customer engine - but, looking at the testing times, we're not. We're not going to plod around slowly. We have to see what the car can do and we have to get the maximum out of it, so we don't really have a choice in the matter. I don't know if we are the favourites or what, but it's nice knowing that we have a competitive car. As I said, we don't know how competitive it is, but it's great to drive and I feel that I can really work with it".

Asked whether he felt that the team would be able to maintain the level of performance through the rigours of a 17-race season, Button admitted that he could only hope that that would be the case.

"I knew it was going in the right direction, because I spent a lot of time with the team at the end of the year, and we started focusing on our car reasonably early," he noted, "That's one of the reasons why I was hanging on in there, hoping that the car would be raced in 2009. I think [it] is the reason why everyone's kept their head strong and kept focused on the job in hand, because they knew that they were going in the right direction and had the makings of a good car.

"[The future] is all guesswork - we really don't know what's going to happen even in qualifying and the race on Sunday. I hope that we can sustain our performance, whatever it's going to be. That's got to be the aim. We're here this weekend, hoping that we can do the whole season. We haven't come to Melbourne to just do the first two or three races, we're here for the championship, so we've got to hope that we can complete it."



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