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â€¢ Button delighted to knock Red Bull off front row
â€¢ British driver highlights hard work of McLaren team
Jenson Button is hoping Sebastian Vettel will become accustomed to the sight of seeing a McLaren ahead of him this season rather than in his mirrors.
Vettel’s statistics over the last two years en route to winning back-to-back Formula One world titles are extraordinary. From 38 races, Vettel qualified on pole 25 times, was on the front row of the grid a total of 32 occasions overall, won 16 races and was on the podium at a further 11.
It has been a phenomenal run, but there is hope after yesterday’s opening race of the season that the tide has finally turned, with Vettel bemoaning his lot after being forced to settle for being distinctly second best at Melbourne’s Albert Park. And when told that Vettel disliked the McLarens giving him such a hard time, Button said: “Hopefully he’ll get used to it.
“It’s great for the sport the Red Bulls weren’t on the front row. Since Monza [the Italian Grand Prix] 2010 there had been a Red Bull on the front row, but we pushed them off. That’s important for the sport, although you can never discount them. They are always there.”
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 20th pole, edging Button in qualifying, to form the first all-British front row for 17 years, and McLaren’s first for two and a half years. However, Button dominated the race itself after overtaking Hamilton into the first corner, leading for 57 of the 58 laps, with Vettel describing him as “unbeatable”.
If Button is a fan of omens, the winner in Australia in five of the last six seasons has gone on to clinch the title, including Button himself in 2009, although the 32-year-old is also the one anomaly in 2010.
Informed of the stat after his 13th race victory, Button added: “That sounds great doesn’t it? I hope it is the case again, but you can’t get carried away. But to win here at the start is great for me and motivates the whole team, not that they really need it. I’m in a great place with the team, I feel so at home in the car and it’s something that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Button is aware of how much it would mean for McLaren to again be on top of the F1 world after winning just one drivers’ title since 1999 and going without a constructors’ crown since 1998.
“As a driver you go through a season thinking about the drivers’ championship,” Button said. “That’s the one that as a kid you get excited about, getting into Formula One and fighting for a world championship.
“The constructors’ is key for a team, but if the team could win the drivers’ and not the constructors’ then they’d be ecstatic. If Lewis and I are both competitive as we both are, both world champions, both fighting at the front, there’s always the chance you will win the constructors’.
“But you win and lose as a team and although they’re both important, the team know the way we think, that we’re fighters and we want to get what we want. It’s always the way it is. This team has been fantastic this year â€“ in fact every year I’ve been with them â€“ but this year especially.
“They’ve worked so hard and it really means a lot to us to be so strong at the first race after a couple of years of struggle and everyone saying ‘McLaren aren’t good at the start of the year’.
“We are now and we just have to hope our progress is as good as previous years. It’s going to be difficult because we’ve a very high target, but what a perfect start to the season.”