Button quest for first win boosted by power surge

If the rumoured $35m (£19.75m) that he paid Sir Frank Williams to escape his 2006 contract was not sufficient evidence, however, Button is a man well grounded in reality and yesterday he was down to earth about his prospects despite improvements to the engine, suspension and aerodynamics of his BAR- Honda. "First of all," he said "I don't look at it that I have done nearly a hundred races without winning. I look at it that I'm only 25 and yet I've done nearly a hundred grands prix. There is no point in keeping on talking about it. The best thing is just to get out there and do something about it."

This weekend the breakthrough seems unlikely. "The new engine is the best step forward we've had all year on power," Button said. "And the new front suspension felt good last week. With the new aero, that should all make a difference. I think we will be reasonably close to Renault this weekend. We won't get anywhere near McLaren, but they haven't been that consistent this year and if you are able to fight for a podium finish you never know what can happen."

Indirect support for Button's position came from the new world champion, Fernando Alonso. Asked what winning the title had taught him, the Spaniard replied: "I have learned that when you have a good car you can win. I fought in 2003 with the Renault R23. It was a good car but so-so and I finished sixth overall. Last year my car was very, very difficult to drive and I was fourth. I was missing something to win, but this year I had the answer. If you have everything together, technically, you can win." Button is still waiting for that at BAR-Honda.

The Suzuka is also rife with speculation about a potential new team for 2006. Honda confirmed earlier in the week that they will supply their new V8 engine to a second team and the favourite for the job is the Japanese Super Aguri team. This is run by the former Zakspeed, Larrousse and Footwork Formula One racer Aguri Suzuki, who, it is speculated, will use Takuma Sato - the Japanese driver will be replaced by Rubens Barrichello at BAR-Honda next year - and possibly BAR's test driver, Anthony Davidson.

Another manufacturer-supporting team would give the so-called "rebel" teams a stronger hand in the ongoing war with Bernie Ecclestone's group - Ferrari, Jordan, Red Bull and Red Bull Junior - who have signed up to his new Concorde Agreement which will take effect from 2008.