• Button trails the championship leader by 90 points
• ‘It is going to be a phenomenal end to the season’
Jenson Button believes his win in Hungary on Sunday means the fight for the title is far from over, despite trailing the championship leader, Sebastian Vettel, by 100 points. Buoyed by McLaren’s race pace, irrespective of the rain at the Hungaroring, the driver feels his team can genuinely push Red Bull to the wire.
“You never know. If he [Vettel] has a crash, loses 25 points and our pace is as it is now, it is going to be a phenomenal end to the season,” Button said. “As a team we are making the right calls and we are up there with them. In qualification they still have the edge but in the race we can have them.”
After Lewis Hamilton’s win in Germany and his own here Button is convinced their car is now a match for the opposition. “The pace has been there and the upgrades have been there and we have taken the fight to Red Bull – great to see the performance increase.”
The points advantage remains with Red Bull, however, and Button was mindful of the task in hand. “To be fair to them, they have a great lead and can stay relaxed.” He acknowledged, no doubt from his own experience in 2009, that closing out a title is tricky. “It is so difficult when you get into this sport because of the noise, the excitement and the adrenaline to say ‘right, let’s back it up a little bit’ and, if you are second or third, it is easy to win the championship – especially for a company like Red Bull. I don’t think we will see them backing off.”
The team, he confirmed, had let their two drivers race one another as expected, allowing the two to vie for the lead on lap 52 before Button came out on top.
“No, I wasn’t surprised they let us fight,” he said. “We wouldn’t have listened anyway. If they had said back off and sit behind your team-mate it wouldn’t have happened. But they would never do that and we know that because we asked the question.”
Despite previous wins in changeable conditions he said he would still have preferred the track to have stayed dry: “I was trying to do it the easy way and then it started raining. It wasn’t my choice. I saw it and thought, ‘Are you kidding me? Are you serious I am going to have to win it like this again?'”
Last week the driver had expressed his optimism on coming to Budapest, saying: “It was my first win. I have a lot of good memories from there and I am going to have my 200th grand prix there. My missus is coming as well and it is my father’s birthday next Wednesday. Great things happen in threes. I just hope they are not the only three great things that happen. Forget my old man’s birthday, I don’t care about that one!”
However, he did manage the full monty when his father’s birthday went without a hitch as the driver celebrated his 200th grand prix on Saturday night and then took the win on Sunday. “It was awesome. Crazy. We were thinking it comes in threes and it has,” he said.
Hamilton, who left the track soon after the race, did elaborate on the radio problems that had led to the team putting him on intermediate tyres. “I think there was perhaps one point when they got some information from me but maybe it was a little bit of info,” he said. “I heard them say it was going to rain and it was already spitting, so we opted to go for the wet tyres. I think they called me in and I did the lap. Anyway the tyres went off and it wasn’t necessarily the best call, but that’s motor racing.”
Of his team-mate’s victory he said: “Big congratulations to Jenson. He pushed me hard and he deserved to win the race. I felt sorry for the team that we didn’t get a one?two but at least one of us got the victory.
“The car felt very good to drive today. I think the cooler conditions helped us but the team has done a fantastic job to get us where we are. We’ve now won two races in the space of a week, which is a great way to enter the summer break.
“I’m disappointed in myself for spinning. I had to do a doughnut to get myself facing the right way and that forced Paul [di Resta] on to the grass, which is why I got the drive-through penalty. I’ve apologised to Paul and I’ll put the penalty behind me and move on to the next race.”