Button optimistic over Brawn GP's chances

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The Independent Online

Brawn GP may be ahead of their Formula One rivals in some areas despite the team's late arrival on the scene as heirs to Honda, according to Jenson Button.

The Briton, whose smile said it all after he gave the new BGP001 car an impressive track debut in Barcelona on Monday, told reporters the Mercedes-powered team could yet reap the rewards of work done last year by their departed former owners.

The Japanese manufacturer, who announced in December that they were leaving Formula One, effectively wrote off last season early on and turned their attention instead to building a much better car for 2009.

This year sees the most significant change in the regulations for decades, with completely revised aerodynamics and a return to slick tyres as well as the introduction of the KERS energy recovery system.

While McLaren and Ferrari had to develop their new cars while simultaneously fighting for the 2008 title, Honda were able to devote most of their considerable resources to the coming championship.

"We started development early on the 2009 car, which maybe made things a little difficult for us because we didn't plan to have this engine," Button said after clocking the fourth fastest time of the 10 teams in Barcelona.

"You could say certain areas are not as good as other teams but I think we've produced a car that is competitive," the Briton added.

"The great thing is watching everyone testing and thinking we've already tried certain parts on our car and it didn't make it that much quicker - that goes for a lot of the parts that other teams have tested.

"We couldn't find a route with those parts. We took a different angle and it's worked for us which is good," added Button, who scored just three points last year in a dismal season for Honda.

"It's also a beautiful car, that's a difficult thing to say with these wings but this is definitely a beautiful car."

Button's time, and the 82 laps completed on the first day of running, was eye-catching when compared to rivals who had been testing their new cars since early January.

McLaren, the team of world champion Lewis Hamilton and equipped with the same Mercedes engine as the Brawn, were the slowest of all.

Button said the new Brawn was much more to his liking than the unloved 2008 version.

"Maybe it's just our car, I don't know... I can feel the car a lot more, I can feel the road a lot more with this car than with previous cars, which is great.

"And it's only going to get better," he added.

"There's a lot we can improve on, but the basic set up is reasonable and that's a good starting point. I think a lot of other teams didn't have that when they first wheeled out their cars.

"So I'm not too worried. I think the only problem is reliability because we haven't got the time to put the miles on all the parts as other teams have been able to do."