Button steers clear of Schumacher's flattery
Friday 07 May 2004
Michael Schumacher thinks that Jenson Button and BAR-Honda could pose a serious threat to his supremacy in Spain this weekend, but yesterday neither Button nor team owner David Richards were rising to the bait.
"Michael is incredibly strong, and there is not a circuit in the world that he can go to where he isn't going to be the man to beat. You can let flattery go to your head and drop your guard," Richards said. "But we won't do that."
Nevertheless, the performance of the team has raised expectations, with Button taking two thirds and then second place behind Schumacher, a fortnight ago in Imola, after taking pole position and leading the opening laps. It has been a great year so far for the 24-year-old from Frome in Somerset, but he and Richards know that BAR still have a big mountain to climb before they get on terms with the red cars, which were eight-tenths of a second a lap quicker in the race at Imola.
"It was a big margin," Button concedes, "but we can be closer here or they might not qualify as well as usual. But if they do the perfect race - and they have done that so far all season - it's going to be very difficult to beat them."
BAR, however, have tested more over the winter than Ferrari at the Circuit de Catalunya. "Obviously they are very experienced and know where they stand here," Button said. "But it's nice to hear Michael say they are slightly worried coming here, and that they expect us to have a good result."
There is fervour in BAR's desire to play things down, but Richards admits that he gave his team a pep talk at the beginning of the year in which he outlined their strategy for a season in which much more than they had ever delivered would be expected.
"We had some very good tests and some were sceptical about our lap times over the winter, but we were reasonably confident," Richards said. "We set our agenda for the year back at Brackley, and shared it with the management and the team and set our goals together.
"I was suspicious people might not have bought into it so we did a survey, and 90 per cent of the staff agreed our goals had changed. We have tough targets compared to where we've been in the past."
In Button you can also detect a new toughness and determination to help his team realise their goals. It is there when he says: "Our Imola result was very good, but we weren't jumping with joy, as you might have noticed.
"Being on the second step was great, looking up at Michael, but his step is where we wanna be. I hope it's not going to take too long to get there. Hopefully I am gonna win; it's just a matter of how long."
Schumacher's bulletproof Ferrari has now gone a record 42 races without mechanical failure. But the slightest slip this weekend could elevate Button and BAR that final, crucial, step.
Pogba to Chelsea: Blues set to smash British spending record with £70m midfielder and £34m John Stones
John Stones appears to jump over ball as Everton concede goal against Barnsley
Usain Bolt taken out by clumsy photographer on Segway during victory lap after World Championships 200m win over Justin Gatlin
Club Brugge 0 Manchester United 4 player ratings: Wayne Rooney scores hat-trick, but who impressed in Champions League tie?
Javier Hernandez: Great night for Manchester United, terrible night for Chicharito
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 Toby Sheldon: Justin Bieber lookalike found dead in motel room
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs