• ‘It’s a lot of fun racing with Lewis – we push each other hard’
• Button delights in overtaking move on Michael Schumacher
Jenson Button has acknowledged that while the fight for the Formula One world championship is over, his battle with his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton will continue and that the action on track for the last six races of the season will remain just as intense.
Button, who gave another sterling performance at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, recovering from seventh at one point to a second-place finish and passing Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso in the process, said: “There is no chance of first place in the championship. We have known that for a little while. It won’t change anything. The racing is still going to be bloody amazing like it has been for the last few races.”
He is currently on 167 points, 117 behind Red Bull’s current world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who could claim the title at the next round in Singapore, and nine points ahead of Hamilton, who has never been beaten by a team-mate throughout his career. But Button insists it is not about the numbers, saying: “The points at the end of the year will not be what gets my pulse racing.”
“It’s a lot of fun racing with Lewis because we are so competitive and we do push each other very hard,” he added. “We have found each other quite a lot on the circuit this year which has made for some great racing. We are fair but still tough on each other. That is great for Formula One as a whole, having two world champions in the same team, fighting it out on the circuit.”
The fans, who no doubt would have preferred to see McLaren fighting for the championship, will still have much to enjoy, Button insisted: “It is great for the British public because even though the championship is over, we are still going to have some great racing. We’ll be fighting it out with each other probably more than we’ll be fighting it out with other guys because we have got the same equipment. If we are doing a good job we are going to be next to each other a lot of the time. Hopefully, we will put on a good show.”
Hamilton was unafraid that Red Bull’s dominance would continue for the long term. “It is not a fear for me,” he said. “I think next year’s car will be quicker than this year’s car. We’ll have to wait and see. I am going to get back to the factory and work as hard as I can with the guys to improve on it and see how we can close the gap.”
Despite being punished by the stewards several times this season, Hamilton maintained that they had been consistent, despite not punishing Schumacher for weaving ahead of him during the race and that he was right to take his time passing the German. “I didn’t have an opportunity but I wasn’t up for making any silly mistakes. Maybe I showed people I can drive cleanly and not get into trouble. The guy in front made it very difficult for me,” he said.
Button was gracious towards Vettel, admitting that the German “just sails away. But he is driving very well. And as a team they are doing a great job.”
The championship aside, that a relaxed and confident Button really is enjoying himself more than ever on the track was reflected in his pleasure at passing the multiple world champion Schumacher on lap 16: “It is just satisfying because I pulled off a lovely move and I always enjoy overtaking Michael as he has achieved a lot in the sport. It is always exciting overtaking anyone but especially a seven-times world champion when he is in good form and his car is performing well.”
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