Button braces to reassert dominance
BUDAPEST: World championship leader Jenson Button is confident he and his Brawn GP team will bounce back to form with a strong performance in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
After two difficult races in Britain and Germany, where cool conditions played into the hands of their main rivals, the 29-year-old Briton believes the hotter weather in Hungary, plus upgrades for his car, will see him back on the podium at the circuit where he picked up his maiden win in 2006.
The Red Bull pair of Australian Mark Webber and German Sebastian Vettel delivered two successive one-two triumphs at Silverstone and the Nurburgring to underline their bid for world title glory.
But Button, who has been training hard at his home in Monaco, is still 21 points ahead.
He said: "I know that the guys at the factory and at Mercedes-Benz have been working really hard on our latest upgrade package and I just can't wait to get back in the car.
"We need to make another step and to show our performance is still there. Red Bull have stepped up their game and it is up to us to respond now, and I am certain we will.
"The Hungaroring is one of my favourite races and I feel good about it even more so this year as it should finally see a return to some real summer temperatures. I've been at home in Monaco for the past week concentrating on my training because I know how physical it can be there with the heat."
Button won six of the opening seven races this year before the Red Bull revival in colder climates and after the German race, he said: "This is hurting now. If Vettel had won here that would have been a disaster for me."
His team boss Ross Brawn said: "I know we face another fierce battle, but we have significant upgrades on the car for Budapest and they will give us performance gains.
"The last two races at Silverstone and at the Nurburgring were frustrating for the team. We could not achieve the full potential of our car at the same time as our competitors have taken a good step forward.
"However, the problems we faced were unique to the circumstances of those races and we are confident that the inherent performance of our car has not disappeared. Now we have to focus again."
While Button and his Brawn team-mate, Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello, have battled to generate any heat in their tyres at the last two colder races, the Red Bulls have enjoyed their superiority.
Barrichello, who slammed his team's pit-stops and strategy after a disappointing finish in Germany, said he had put that outburst behind him now.
"I want to start the second half of the season afresh this weekend and focus on getting the maximum performance from the car and our upgrades," he said.
"It's not that easy to overtake through the slow corners in Hungary so it places the emphasis on having a good qualifying session on Saturday and being able to start from high up the grid as possible."
While Brawn prepare to attack again, Red Bull have made it clear they are continuing to allow their two drivers to fight for victories without any inhibiting team strategies.
Team boss Christian Horner said: "We will continue to support both drivers equally -- there's only a point and a half between them, so obviously they are both in contention for the drivers' championship.
"There's a long way to go to catch up with Jenson Button. If and when we reach a point where there is a significant gap, or it becomes mathematically impossible for one of them to challenge for the championship, then they are both team players and one of them will play a supporting role should it be required."
Ferrari are also fired by new belief following Brazilian Felipe Massa's podium finish in Germany.
He said: "Being on the podium was a good feeling but also a strange feeling at the same time and it was definitely something I'd been missing.
"In a difficult season, this was nice because it's a sign of the improvement going on within our team. In the past few races, we've been scoring points again, always in the top five so to do even better and finish on the podium was good.
"Not just for me -- but also in terms of motivating everyone in the team and at the factory. It proves we are still fighting but it is important for us to keep working."
Defending champion Briton Lewis Hamilton will also go into this weekend's race with some optimism after seeing an improvement in his McLaren Mercedes' form.
He said: "It's a demanding track, for drivers, a bit like a kart circuit full of twists and turns, but I like it. I won here in 2007 and I was on pole last year. I think and hope we can get a result that shows we are improving again."