Jenson Button has insisted he is not yet ready to back Lewis Hamilton's bid for the Formula One championship. The McLaren driver has said that he is still determined to fight for every win, while admitting that the chances of catching the championship leader, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, in the remaining nine races are slim.
Sunday's race at the Hungaroring, the last before Formula One's summer break, was won from pole position by his team-mate, Hamilton, who Button trails by 41 points and who, in turn, is 47 points from leader Alonso. Button finished sixth after McLaren opted to use a three-stop strategy that did not work out, while Alonso extended his championship lead again, despite finishing in fifth.
Button, however, was still not ready yet to drive on behalf of his team-mate. "If I am leading a race, then I want to win that race," he said. "That's what drivers do. We don't have a No1 and a No2 driver here. I will not be asked to do anything but if there comes a time in this championship when I can't win, then I will obviously help my team-mate."
With nine races still to go, he did not feel that he needed to make that decision yet, remaining optimistic that the quicker McLaren could yet turn his challenge round, "But there is a long way to go and a long time before I feel I am in that position," he added.
"I am not thinking about the championship, because it is a long way away. Fernando will be. He is the only one. The other guys can't, they have to focus on winning races," he said. "I want to enjoy the races and fight for big points. I'm still a chunk behind the second pack, but you can close that gap up pretty easily."
However, closing the gap to Alonso was a different matter, said the British driver. The Spanish driver's Ferrari has improved from a poor start to the season yet remains well behind the pace of the current set of upgrades, but importantly Alonso and his team have kept their car on track. Not only has he gone 23 races now without a retirement, crucially he has scored points in every one of them, illustrated in the gap he has at the top of the championship.
"Fernando's lead is massive still. He is 40 points ahead of anyone," noted Button. "Even if he finishes fifth in every race, the guys in front are going to be fighting it out for points. Not one person will win the next four races. He needs a retirement really, but everyone will be taking points off each other. There are so many people at the front fighting for victories." He will continue his fight at the next race in Spa on 2 September.
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image: © McLaren