Villeneuve warns Button

By Ian Gordon
Wednesday 15 January 2003 01:00

Jenson Button believes the revamped BAR team can bring him a first podium finish this season and one day take him all the way to the Formula One title.

Speaking at the launch of the new 005 BAR car here yesterday, the 22-year-old said he did not expect to win races yet with the Honda-powered team but added a place in the top three was a realistic aim. "I think it's a real possibility," he said.

Button went on to add that he wanted to be world champion within four years and "be the best driver in my era".

However Button's ambitions cut little ice with his new BAR team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, who warned the Briton that he would have to step up his performances if he is to help make BAR a force.

"I will respect Jenson once he goes quick on a race track," said the Canadian, who according to team sources has hardly said a word to Button since he joined the Brackley-based outfit. "Some drivers will be very fast but will be very weak mentally, then you do not respect them either. Human strength is probably more important to respect than pure speed," he said.

Asked if Button will be able to spearhead BAR's challenge on an equal footing with him next season, Villeneuve added: "If he steps up from his first three years yes, if not no.

"There is more pressure on Jenson than myself. He comes into the team perceived as being a future world champion so I guess there is a lot on his shoulders. I have already won races in the past, I know what I can do and people know what I can do."

Button insisted he would not be bothered if he could not get along with Villeneuve off the track – as long as they worked together to lift the team. "All my team-mates have been pretty tough," said Button, who partnered Ralf Schumacher at Williams in his maiden year before being teamed with Giancarlo Fisichella then Jarno Trulli at Renault.

"I think Jacques and I will work together as team-mates. We will share information. I am sure there are going to be times when we don't get along but there will be times when we work well together.

"I want to do the best job I can on the circuit and we need to work together to move the team forward."

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