x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Button after improved Brawn pace

Jenson Button tells what his Brawn GP team need to do after allowing Red Bull to bite another chunk out of their championship lead.

Jenson Button  leads Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel during Sunday's German Grand Prix. The championship leader could only finish fifth in the race.
Jenson Button leads Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel during Sunday's German Grand Prix. The championship leader could only finish fifth in the race.

Jenson Button has spelt out in blunt terms what his Brawn GP team need to do after allowing Red Bull to bite another chunk out of their championship lead. "We've got to beat the opposition in Hungary and that's what we are going to try and do," the Formula One title leader said after finishing fifth on Sunday at a German Grand Prix won by Australian Mark Webber.

"Let's pray that we are quick there because if we are not we've got a problem," added the Briton, who had thought a podium finish was within his reach at the Nuerburgring. Button leads Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel by 21 points, with Webber a further 1.5 points adrift, in the standings with eight of the season's 17 races remaining. After winning six of the first seven races, the Brawn driver has finished sixth and fifth in the last two as a result of struggling in low temperatures, which led to the Brawn cars not being able to generate heat in their tyres.

Red Bull, with both drivers now clear contenders despite the gap, have taken 24 points off Brawn in the last three races. Sunday was their third one-two of the season, and second in a row. "The problem we have is to get quicker," the Brawn team principal Ross Brawn said. "We are not quick enough and we have to respond. Because if we don't, we will throw the championship away." Button, whose car can be expected to go much better in Hungary's hotter temperatures after a damp and cold weekend, was concerned about the situation but not about to panic.

"We could shout at the team about improving things but they know what they've got to do. We've got to stay calm, put the improvements on the car and get every bit we can out of it," he said. "You have to worry but I don't think its 'Oh no, we're going to lose the championship'," he added. "Its 'Come on, let's make the difference'. "We've got some new parts for Hungary. I'm looking forward to that. I think our car will be strong there. We don't know how strong. We'll have to wait and see."

Webber's first Formula One victory, after three second places this season, put another name firmly in the reckoning as the third driver to win in a season turned upside down by new regulations. Button congratulated the Australian, a friend and former teammate from when he was at Benetton and Webber was the test driver, for finally making the breakthrough after 130 starts. "It puts another person in the mix doesn't it? Sebastian, Mark myself and Rubens [Barrichello], they are all closing in on me," he said.

"There are a lot of races to go so we do need to worry a bit. "These last two circuits have been frustrating for us because of the temperatures. If we are not quick on a hot track then we have got to really worry." Button can take some consolation that while both Red Bull drivers have been evenly matched, they are also likely to take points off each other while he has beaten team mate Barrichello in eight of the nine races so far.

"We've still got a 21 point lead so it's not that bad but if we continue like this we are not going to keep that lead," Button said. gcaygill@thenational.ae