Jenson Button was his usual honest self at his press briefing today in Budapest, facing up to the challenge and giving an insight into the level of research he has done into the track and how it suits the opposition.
On Red Bull he said something very interesting, which is that he hopes the updates Brawn has brought here this weekend will “be enough to challenge the Red Bulls,” suggesting that he clearly feels that Brawn has fallen behind them lately. This may seem obvious given the mauling he’s taken in the last two races, but bear in mind that the team was saying that much of the performance gap was down to the cold conditions, which suit the Red Bull much better than the Brawn. Clearly having analysed it further they feel that it wasn’t just the cold, Red Bull has had a clear edge,
“There’s no excuses,” said Button. “It’s supposed to be warm this weekend, so we should get the tyres to work. I think people are going to struggle with overheating on the super softs, so it’s going to be about tyre management as usual. This year has been all about tyre management.
“We also have some updates that will move us forward a good chunk, they are mostly aerodynamic. You see what it says in the windtunnel, but you don’t know whether it’s going to be reality on the circuit. I’m happy with the step forwards and hopefully it’ll be enough to challenge the Red Bulls and make it more exciting.”
Button expects the Brawn to manage the super soft tyre better than Red Bull, much as it did in Monaco. From this race onwards Bridgestone has decided to change its strategy and bring tyres which are only one step apart in softness, rather than two. I think it’s a shame to move the goalposts mid season and it will be interesting to see which of the two title contending teams this move favours. I sense it may be Brawn as the gap between their performance on the two different tyres had been seen to be much larger than for Red Bull, which performed quite similarly on the two different tyres.
As to his opposition Button was very interesting, as usual. He has a 21 point cushion, so no need to panic, but he has seen his lead eroded alarmingly in the last two races. He noted that both Webber and Vettel have always outshone their team mates at Budapest. The big question is, what kind of boost will victory in Germany give to Mark Webber?
More than one commentator has compared him to Nigel Mansell, who took a long time to get his first win and then couldn’t stop winning. I think there may be something in that. One of my readers here on JA on F1 opined after Nurburgring that Webber is a journeyman, no more. I’m not so sure. He has always been immensely quick, but struggled to put it all together. This season he has been strong in races, moving up from his grid slot at times and has had plenty of speed in qualifying. He dominated Nurburgring and could do that again, now he has the map in his head.
“He was very quick,” observed Button of Webber. “Compared to his team-mate as well. I think both of them are going to be quick. If you look at past seasons they have been very quick around this circuit, both of them against their team-mates, they are driving a very competitive car.
“But they have us to contend with here, we’re going to be pushing them a lot more here. It’s going to be a bit cooler this weekend, but it’s still going to be hot enough to make the tyres work. And we need to start beating them, otherwise they’ll take too many points off us. They’ve already taken 11 points out of me in two races – that’s too many.”