Button kicks heels but vows that BAR will make amends

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The Independent Online

While nine teams went to work at the Circuit de Catalunya here yesterday, a spectating Jenson Button admitted that he was bored but vowed to prove on BAR Honda's return from their two-race ban in Germany later this month, that they do not have to rely on technical subterfuge to achieve results.

While nine teams went to work at the Circuit de Catalunya here yesterday, a spectating Jenson Button admitted that he was bored but vowed to prove on BAR Honda's return from their two-race ban in Germany later this month, that they do not have to rely on technical subterfuge to achieve results.

"As soon as we get to the Nürburgring people will realise that it's not down to what some think," he said a trifle cryptically, being legally bound not to talk about the fuel tank irregularity, that the FIA international court of appeal ruled to be in breach of the regulations. "We are a very good team and we have a lot of exceptional people working here. We will prove that when we get to Nürburgring."

Fretting at having to sit and watch while others drove - "I just want to get out of here, I don't want to hang around" - Button admitted that the motivation would be high to make a point in Germany.

"I think everyone's got motivation, but it will help. I wouldn't say it's going to be revenge, but it would be great getting to Nürburgring after two races off and showing we are very strong, that our pace is down to everyone on the team."

Before then, Button must sit out Monaco too, for the second time in three years. "That's going to be a tough one, I think, being there and not going out. It's obviously one of my home GPs. Waking up in my apartment there, with cars going round without me being in one of them - that's going to be a little bit weird."

While Button was getting used to absence, and BAR Honda were packing up their trucks and heading home after their quest to find a court to hear an application for an injunction against their ban failed, Juan Pablo Montoya celebrated his return to duty by trashing his McLaren in a hefty accident at the end of the afternoon session.

"It's nice to be back, but the first time I have a shunt whilst driving for the team had to happen today," he shrugged. "I'm sorry for the guys who have to repair the damage tonight. I don't know what happened, but I just lost it."

The Colombian had checks on his already injured scapula, but was cleared for further participation by FIA medical delegate Dr Gary Hartstein.

In front of his countrymen it was the McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, the star of the Bahrain Grand Prix, who set the pace, but on the first practice day teams choose tyres and work on set-ups, and not too much should be read into a day on which local hero Fernando Alonso was only ninth and Michael Schumacher 13th.

With a fresh motor this weekend, and other performance-enhancing additions to his Renault, the man who has brought Spaniards flocking to Formula One for the first time was unperturbed. "Today was really special for me, to be on the circuit and be able to see the support in the stand," Alonso said. "There are lots of people coming from all over Spain, so I am excited for the weekend. We did a good job and had no problems, so it's a good start."

Renault expect a tough fight again with McLaren and the revitalised Ferrari team this weekend, on a demanding high-speed circuit which really exposes a car's strengths and weaknesses.

As for Button, he will have a different role. "I'll be here for a few hours, in the Paddock Club, to see all the guests, because we still have a lot here," he said. "You just can't walk away. I'm sure they'll be disappointed I'm not racing, but I hope they'll understand."

If they do, they'll have a head start on many people in this sport.

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