Jenson Button was not deluding himself that he will be in a position to challenge Lewis Hamilton for the world championship this year, when Honda launched their latest F1 contender in Brackley today, but the 28 year-old Englishman has placed his faith firmly in the talents of new team principal Ross Brawn.
“When Ross walks into a room, you can see people’s confidence is lifted,” Button said of the man who masterminded Michael Schumacher’s plethora of world titles at Ferrari. “People really listen to him. He can’t do it alone, of course, he needs all of us here to back him up. But we have improved in all the areas where we were weak and now I really do believe again in what we are doing.”
Button, however, knows that it will take Honda to make up the ground they lost with a bad car in 2007.
“The RA108 you see today is very basic and there will be a lot of changes before the first race, and then every race after that. We aren’t going to set the world alight because it’s quite difficult to make up two and a half seconds a lap overnight, but we have made some good progress. We didn’t just have a slow car in 2007, we had one which was very difficult to drive, very unpredictable. This car is very different and I believe in the people we have here now. We didn’t understand our problems in 2007” – which were to do with the RA107’s sensitivity to pitch and roll – “and that was the big issue. Having Ross in control on the technical side is a big step forward.”
Button is adamant he wouldn’t want to be with any other team right now.
“I am the happiest I have ever been in this team. This year the championship will probably be won by McLaren or Ferrari, and I think that if the McLaren is quick Lewis has a very good chance to challenge again for the title. But for the future there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be than Honda. It’s just going to take a while but we have the facilities here to get the job done. It’s just going to take time. But I do know that when I get the car I’ll be ready to challenge for the championship. If it isn’t 2009, then it will be the year after.”