Button losing race against time

Honda driver warns fans not to expect home win at British Grand Prix

Jenson Button might not quite define pressure as the exertion of continuous force on one body by another, but the 26-year-old Englishman is one of several top dogs who go into next week's British Grand Prix over-burdened by it. So much so that, after an excruciatingly disappointing season thus far, in which he had expected to be fighting for the world championship with Messrs Alonso, Raikkonen and Schumacher but has not been, he has already cautioned his legion of fans not to expect too much of him.

You have to feel sorry for the guy. He is quick, of that there is no doubt. But where rivals Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher have the equipment to do the job, Button does not. Not yet. Honda are struggling to get their RA106 right, and doubtless they will, but it is a matter of time, and it won't have happened since Monaco.

"People really shouldn't expect too much," Button says plaintively, his words dripping with quiet frustration, as you and he both know that he is unlikely to follow in the wheeltracks of Sir Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, John Watson, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill and win at home.

Honda tested in Barcelona last week, and Button said: "It went well. We did our normal tyre-testing programme for the British Grand Prix, which was very useful. We also looked at set-up work to resolve the issues we experienced in Monaco, and focused on finding a set-up which is consistent. We did a great deal of work and we are getting the maximum out of the car at the moment." To decode that, it means they have not made the step forward they need to make to catch Renault and Ferrari, nor, possibly, McLaren.

Meanwhile, Schumacher comes to Silverstone with his face as red as his Ferrari after being branded a cheat by the FIA stewards during qualifying in Monaco. At a stroke, he undid all the good he has done since he last did the same thing, when fighting Jacques Villeneuve for the title in Jerez back in 1997.

Of course, even the toilet cleaner at Ferrari will tell you he did not get a fair hearing, but he did. And this is what one steward, Joaquin Verdegay, told the Italian paper Gazetta dello Sport: "It was a painful decision because we could not make a mistake and put the reputation of the driver at risk. We don't know if the entire manoeuvre was deliberate, but in that spot he had certainly not done anything like that throughout the weekend; he braked over 50 per cent more heavily than on other laps.

"Then he did some absolutely unnecessary and pathetic counter-steering, and that lasted five metres, until there were no more chances of going through the turn normally.

"He lost control of the car while travelling at 16 kph! That's something completely unjustifiable. If he had damaged the car, we would probably have filed it as an error. To 'park' it that way, you only do it deliberately."

The whole episode dredged up all the bad things in Schumacher's past: taking Damon Hill off in Adelaide in 1994 to win his first crown; the Villeneuve incident; winning at Silverstone in 1998 only after taking a stop-and-go penalty in the pits as he crossed the line on the last lap; phantom spins there when he tried to give himself the best starting position for final qualifying; the swerve there in 2003 that put Fernando Alonso on the grass at 190mph.

Quite possibly Schumacher will win next weekend. But so long as Alonso gets on the pod-ium, the Spaniard will not be that bothered. With a 21-point lead it will be a long time before Schumacher can catch him, barring unreliability or accident. So while Button and Schumacher will be feeling the pressure; Alonso remains the man exerting it.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...