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."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?