Button aims for quick returns after Spain workout

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button fired up his 2004 challenger in Barcelona yesterday and immediately targeted his maiden podium appearance in the season's opening race in Australia.

Jenson Button fired up his 2004 challenger in Barcelona yesterday and immediately targeted his maiden podium appearance in the season's opening race in Australia.

The 24-year-old Briton is still searching for a first top-three finish after 65 races but is confident that could happen in Melbourne on 7 March. "You always need a bit of luck to get the first podium but if we carry on working like we have been doing I think we could do it in the first race," said Button, who has finished fourth four times so far. "That would be fantastic, but if it doesn't happen so be it. There will be still be a long way to go this season."

Button has been handed the role of team leader in his second season at BAR after seeing off the former world champion Jacques Villenueve.

It was the Frome-born driver who unveiled the BAR-Honda 006 by guiding it out of the garage at the Circuit de Catalunya before completing a handful of demonstration laps. "I'm still not sure about the car, because I've only done a few laps in it. But it's very stable, which is the most important thing," Button added.

The head of the team, David Richards, is confident Button and his team-mate Takuma Sato, who competed in the final race of last season after Villeneuve withdrew, are the duo to continue the Brackley-based team's progress

"It is one of the youngest driver line-ups but an ambitious one, and I am sure their exuberance is going to move us forward," said Richards, whose team finished in fifth place in the manufacturers' standings last year. "The target for 2004 is to seriously challenge and regularly finish on the podium.

"If you think of it as building a house, the foundations have to be put in place first. We've done that; now it's time for us to come above the ground and show our true potential."

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