Button shrugs off criticism

Jenson Button could not care less what his critics have to say but he is concerned his fans might be taken in by their invective.

Jenson Button could not care less what his critics have to say but he is concerned his fans might be taken in by their invective.

There are many who believe Button is fortunate to be competing in a sport where he is still paid millions, despite his recent pay cut.

Take John Surtees for instance, the only man to win world titles on two and four wheels, as he pulled no punches in his condemnation of the 29-year-old Briton.

“I wouldn’t have given him the drive,” sniped Surtees on the fact Button had been retained by Brawn GP.

“If you don’t give 100% even when the car is not good you have to be sacked. You can’t be good just when you have a good car.”

Button feels such an accusation is strikingly unfair, in particular as for all but one season of his nine years in Formula One he has been left languishing due to the car beneath him.

Button has been waiting all this time for a drive that will prove he has the talent witnessed back in 2000 when he was given his bow by Williams.

He naturally hopes he can give his supporters plenty to shout about this season, and they ignore those out to get him.

“I really don’t care what the critics say because they really don’t know the situation,” countered Button ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

“If people are making those comments they obviously don’t know what goes on within Formula One these days.

“They can say what they want, for whatever reason...I don’t know what they are trying to do.

“All I care about is that I am with the team here and we have built something that is good.

“Whatever people say, positive or negative, I’ll go out there and do the best job I can.

“More importantly for me, I just hope the fans see the situation and they don’t read everything and every comment someone says.

“They need to see the bigger picture and realise that one person’s comment is not it.”

The bigger picture this season is that Button would appear to be a genuine title contender after two recent weeks of testing in which the Brawn outfit stunned the sport.

It is a tag he is more than happy to wear, although a little warily because despite today’s practice times in which he finished fifth overall, the true picture will not become clear until after qualifying tomorrow.

“It feels good to be a championship contender,” smiled Button.

“It’s amazing that after three days of driving an F1 car in winter testing, people immediately think ’Wow! Look at that. Where’s that come from?’

“It’s always been there, but I’ve just not had anything near the equipment I deserve and the whole team deserves.

“We have a car now that is competitive, and I’ve just got to make sure it stays competitive, and we keep improving it throughout the year.

“That is always the key to fighting for a world championship, not that we ever have!”

It would appear, following today’s two 90-minute practice sessions, Formula One stands on the brink of a new order.

On Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit where his world title-winning season began with a victory last year, Lewis Hamilton was amongst the also rans.

After finishing 16th in the first 90-minute session, Hamilton then ended the second 1.5 seconds faster – but down in 18th.

At the top of the timesheets was Williams’ Nico Rosberg with a lap of one minute 26.053, followed by Rubens Barrichello in his Brawn and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

It did not go unnoticed that six of the top seven places in second practice were occupied by the cars that have been embroiled in the diffuser row this week.

Behind Button were the Toyota of Timo Glock and Williams of Kazuki Nakajima, with only Red Bull’s Mark Webber breaking the monopoly.

Although relatively happy with his car, Button knows it is a long way short of the finished article.

“I still don’t think we’ve got the best out of the car yet, we’ve still a lot of work to do,” added Button.

“But in a way it’s good we’re nowhere near happy with the balance of it at the moment.

“So I still see us as the underdogs because we still haven’t done as many miles as other people, and there are still issues.”

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