Jenson Button thinks he may have taken the first steps towards shoring up his crumbling world championship lead, which has been under serious attack by the Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
The Englishman is optimistic that his Brawn team have determined the reason why problems getting the car's tyres to work in cool conditions have cost it so much performance, after an intensive investigation of chassis and aerodynamic set-up, and was elated yesterday to set competitive lap times in the first practice sessions.
"After the summer break and after the two weeks when they couldn't work at the factory, they had a few days to work on the car and come up with some ideas," he said. Yesterday Button and his team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, set competitive lap times in each session. "It's a good start, and I'm encouraged," Button reported.
While Red Bull have confirmed that Vettel has re-signed until the end of 2011, the McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said they would not make any moves on their 2010 driver-line-up until Ferrari's expected confirmation at Monza next month that Fernando Alonso will join them from Renault.
Lewis Hamilton, who had technical problems yesterday, has a long-term contract, but Heikki Kovalainen has been told to up his game as Nico Rosberg eyes a switch to McLaren from Williams and Robert Kubica becomes available after BMW's withdrawal.
"There are some changes probably with Fernando at Ferrari," Whitmarsh said. "That frees up the driver market and every year there are pivotal points which determine what is going to happen in the driver market. This year we all know that the Fernando/Ferrari move has a knock-on and that ripples through the other teams."