Button: We must raise our game

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jenson Button has called on leaders McLaren to make technical improvements for this Sunday's British Grand Prix in order to stay in contention for the world title.

The Briton lies in second place in the drivers' table behind team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, but he fears quicker rivals are ready to overtake. Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are close behind the McLaren pair, and they have an impressive car.

"We need to raise our game," said Button. "We need to add performance to the car if we are going to challenge the Red Bulls and other teams.

"You can't hope that it will be OK at the next race and you cannot give away a race this year. You have to be consistently fighting at the front."

Former champion Damon Hill has made an unfavourable comparison between Button and team-mate Lewis using the fable of the tortoise and the hare, but the reigning title holder brushed it off.

Button said: "I won the championship last year because I was quick. I won six races and I was always there fighting. That is the key to he championship, it is not about just consistency."

A crowd of 120,000 F1 fans are expected at Silverstone and the circuit's owners claim it can become the best track in the world.

Despite the amount of money that has been spent in Abu Dhabi on its lavish new venue, the managing director of Silverstone, Richard Phillips said: "They [Abu Dhabi] build a hotel that lights up in different ways, and that's absolutely fantastic. But have we got a better circuit than they have? Yes, I think we have. Have we got better crowds, a better atmosphere? Yes. We have got all those things.

"If we can perfect our track then why wouldn't people think that we are the best in the world?"

Silverstone, a former World War Two airfield owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club, hosted F1's first championship race in 1950 and now has a 17-year deal for the country's grand prix.

The sport's commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, has previously criticised the circuit for its poor facilities, which have been overshadowed by the glittering state-funded venues in emerging economies such as Malaysia and China. However, there is a £37m revamp under way at Silverstone and a new pit complex is due to be finished by May.

Hill, the 1996 world champion, said the new layout for this year's race – necessitated by the return of motorcycle grands prix to Silverstone – had kept the historic flavour of the venue.

He said: "There are some lovely new corners. It has retained its traditional high speed format and continues to evolve. And there are some really great new places to watch from. New tracks are being built around the world, but Silverstone has grown out of this place, out of Europe. You want to race at Monza, Monaco, Silverstone, Spa or Suzuka because you have seen great drivers on those circuits and you want to know how you compare."