Also in today’s Guardian interview with Felipe Massa is an interesting section where he talks about the championship battle and the recent, alarming decline in the form of Jenson Button. According to Massa, who fought Lewis Hamilton for last year’s world championship, Button is buckling under the pressure as the end of the championship comes into view and this offers Massa’s friend and fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello the chance to win the title,
“Look at me, ” says Massa. “I came to Brazil six points behind [Hamilton], and I almost won the championship. That was one race. Rubens has five races to close 16 points. It’s a big possibility. But it depends on Jenson. If Jenson carries on in this bad way it will help Rubens a lot. In my opinion, Jenson has gone down because of the pressure. It’s the only reason.
“At the start of the season everything was nice, everything was easy. He was in a new team winning six out of the first seven races. That’s different to fighting hard for the championship. Now he has a different kind of pressure. In the earlier races he was almost half a second quicker than some teams. You win the race easy and there is not so much pressure. But now we have races where things are more difficult. So for me the pressure has had a big impact on his mind – and he needs to deal with it better. If he does not cope with the pressure he will not win the championship.”
Button’s results in the last five races are 6th, 5th, 7th, 7th, Retired – giving a total of 11 points. Barrichello has scored 21 points in the same period, including a win in Valencia.
Button’s saving grace however has been the rise of the KERS cars, the McLaren and the Ferrari during this period. Ferrari has had a car on the podium at every race since Germany, including a win for Raikkonen, while McLaren has had two podiums including a win for Hamilton. KERS cars are expected to do well this weekend at Monza and with Renault joining their ranks for the weekend, may stop any of Button’s rivals from scoring big points to eat into his championship lead.
But Button could definitely do with a confidence boosting result soon.