by Russell Atkins


On the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix, the undisputed jewel in Formula 1's glittering crown, British racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has given his verdict on the sport's current Brit pack - and it makes bleak reading if your name happens to be Jenson Button.

The 27-year-old has suffered a torrid start to the new campaign - his worst in eight seasons in the top flight - and this despite his Honda squad entering the year widely-regarded as a dark horse for at least race victories, and potentially even the championship. Not only has that failed to materialise - with a best qualifying position of 14th in Australia and Spain and highest finish of 12th - but Button has also had to endure Lewis Hamilton's sensational arrival in Formula 1, with the McLaren star having immediately and almost seamlessly stolen the Somerset ace's mantle as top Brit. There may, Moss warns, be no way back.

"I'm afraid quite honestly Jenson's time has passed," the 16-time grand prix winner told during the recent GPlive nostalgic celebration at Donington Park. "Lewis has now come in and is very dedicated about it all. Jenson made a couple of difficult moves under what was probably not the best guidance. I don't know how that all happened, but there's no question the car Jenson has at the moment is not capable of winning."

Moss had rather more positive things to say, however, about fellow Brits David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson, with the former enjoying something of an Indian summer in his career at a resurgent Red Bull Racing, and the latter having finally made his long-awaited and richly-deserved full-time grand prix debut with Super Aguri.

"I think we've got to realise David is never going to win a race again," the 77-year-old said. "That's terribly unlikely, but he is still doing a good job and if he is prepared to settle for that then there's no doubt that car is only going to improve with the talent they've got working on it in the shape of Adrian Newey and so forth.

"I don't see why he shouldn't go on longer. Fangio didn't retire until he was 47, and I certainly had no intention of stopping until I was 50 but I had my bad crash. Otherwise I would have carried on much longer.

"It's unfortunate for Anthony that he has entered in a year when there's this other British guy who has also come in out of the blue - that makes it very difficult for people to be as excited about him as maybe they should be. He is doing a very good job, though, and long may that continue."




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