Honda put pressure on Button to deliver

Jenson Button faces the sternest test of his standing as a Formula One star this season as Honda have made it clear that only wins will be satisfactory and new signing Rubens Barrichello is likely to be his most formidable team-mate. But yesterday in Barcelona the Briton, recently turned 26, was all smiles as he acquainted himself with the team's latest R106 challenger for the first time, a car that cost him around $25m (£14m) to drive. That is believed to be the figure he was obliged to pay Sir Frank Williams last August to be released from a contract to drive for his team in 2006.

Button has participated in more than 100 grands prix, with second place as his best result, and goes into the new season under no illusion that he must deliver if he is to justify a long-term deal with Honda thought to be worth almost $90m (£50m) and continue to be regarded as a genuine title contender in the future.

"I'm incredibly proud and excited to be part of the Honda Racing F1 Team and 2006 is going to be a very important year for all of us," he said before driving the car for the first time. "We've achieved a lot in winter testing with our concept car and I have seen first-hand the huge effort in Brackley and Tochigi over the past few months. I'm confident all the determination will be rewarded this year and I've done my part by working even harder on my fitness to ensure that I'm in the best possible shape for the season ahead. I can't wait for the first race in Bahrain."

When the season starts there on 12 March, the first thing Button must do is to prove himself faster than Barrichello, who left Ferrari at the end of 2005 after six seasons. He joined Ferrari in 2000, the year in which Button made his debut with the Williams-BMW team. Over the years, Barrichello was often regarded as Michael Schumacher's stooge, but on occasion he proved himself able to beat the multiple world champion. Button knows that he must maintain the upper hand over Barrichello if he is to maintain his leadership of the team and his credibility.

Yesterday, Button received a timely boost from Honda's sporting director, former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, who said he was in the same category as 2005 title contestants, Renault's champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. He even compared him favourably to quadruple champion Alain Prost, a driver renowned for the smoothness of his touch.

"I am that much of a fan of his," de Ferran said. "I recently went to a test in Jerez and Jenson was driving... and this guy has such a fine touch, his driving style to me is fantastic. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to drive like Jenson drives. It's difficult to make it look as easy as he makes it look. I have no reason to be measured with my compliments."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environmentNepenthes zygon had been growing for almost a decade and helping to keep down cockroaches
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital