x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Button's marathon efforts to make a fourth Yas podium

Briton is only driver to finish in top three in all capital's grands prix, and spent a morning running laps of Dubai Autodrome.

Jenson Button, centre, starts his run with trainer Mike Collier, right, and friend Richard Williams at the Dubai Autodrome. Courtesy Paul Velasco / Dubai Autodrome
Jenson Button, centre, starts his run with trainer Mike Collier, right, and friend Richard Williams at the Dubai Autodrome. Courtesy Paul Velasco / Dubai Autodrome

ABU DHABI // Sebastian Vettel may have twice triumphed under the twinkling stars at Yas Marina Circuit and Lewis Hamilton might be the reigning champion here, but there is only one man who has finished on the podium at all three of the UAE capital's grand prix contests.

At Abu Dhabi's inaugural race in 2009, Jenson Button arrived as the newly crowned world champion and finished third.

The following year, he replicated his performance in the Emirates to finish the season on a high after four consecutive races without a podium.

And last season, with Vettel having long wrapped up the title, Button completed a hat-trick of third-place finishes in Abu Dhabi as he pushed to take second in the championship, something he would successfully achieve.

"It's nice in Abu Dhabi because it's usually one of the last races and it's always nice to close out the season with a podium," Button told The National of his feelings towards the venue

"I remember 2009 because I'd obviously clinched the championship in Brazil and then fought for a podium with Mark [Webber] a week later in Abu Dhabi. That was a great race and it has been the same for me the past two races there as well."

Before last year's race, Button said the track remained difficult to overtake, despite the inclusion and lengthening of a second DRS zone, the section of track where the speed-enhancing adjustable rear wing can be utilised.

The two zones have been confirmed again for this year, yet even after last season's contest - which Formula1.com reported as offering the season's highest ratio of DRS overtakes to clean overtakes - Button remains unconvinced.

"It's an unusual circuit," Button said.

"In a way it's beautiful, but also it's not a flowing circuit like Suzuka or Spa.

"It needs the two DRS zones and having the two of them is a real positive for Abu Dhabi because it's such a difficult circuit to overtake.

"Last year, there was quite a bit of degradation and for most of the race, so it made it easier. Saying that though, I didn't have Kers and they still couldn't get past me - I was able to control it and do a good job of keeping the guy behind me."

As to the prospects for Sunday, he added: "I think this will be another closely matched race: India showed us that the gap between the top three teams is extremely close at the moment, so I wouldn't like to predict the exact pecking order.

"As in the last few races, I think Red Bull will go into the weekend with a slight advantage, but I'm confident that, with a clear run through practice, we can be right up there too."

Button ran laps of Dubai Autodrome yesterday morning in preparation to compete in the Hawaiian Marathon in December.

"It was hot out there, but this is perfect conditions for Jenson to prepare for the race," his trainer Mike Collier said.

"From now onwards he will take it easy and we will work on getting him into peak condition for the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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