Button upbeat as F1 rolls into Europe

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The Independent Online

Today in Barcelona could be the most important yet in the 2009 Formula One season, as the European leg kicks off. The day when Jenson Button gets a sense of whether Brawn's domination will continue, and his rivals assess their chances of making up ground lost during winter development.

"Jenson, Rubens and the team delivered a first class job to win the Bahrain Grand Prix which is the level of performance that we must sustain if we are to seriously challenge for the championships this year," team principal Ross Brawn said. "The field has compressed considerably since the season-opening race in Australia and the performance margins at the front are now very tight indeed.

"Whilst we have been away racing over the past few weeks, the factory has been working extremely hard on our upgrade package for the BGP 001 and we look forward to seeing the results of our development work on track this weekend."

Series leader Button remains cautiously optimistic. "I visited the factory last week to join the team for a small celebration of our successes to date and catch up on the progress with our latest developments. We know that we have a real fight on our hands to maintain our lead in the championships but I am confident that we are well prepared."

The only team without a major aerodynamic update are McLaren, but only because they are the only one to have incorporated upgrades at each of the four races so far. Lewis Hamilton yesterday praised the progress they have made. "When we tested here we felt we would not be too bad, but when we tested we were two and a half to three seconds behind the leading car so that was a big shock," he said. "The team has pushed an incredible amount from then. The progress the team has seen since the first and second days here has been phenomenal, but there is still a long way to go."