Button knows he must take the fight to Red Bull in Budapest.
This week the F1 circus trooped into Budapest for the latest instalment of a remarkable championship. The Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend will be interesting for what it says about the rest of the season; it will go some way to telling the world how well-prepared Brawn are to fight off the increasingly impressive Red Bull challenge.
This is because the Hungaroring is a track at which the Brawns should go well. It is twisty and tight, with plenty of low speed corners that the nimble BGP 001, with its downforce and good mechanical grip, loves. Look back to Monaco, a circuit often mentioned when drivers talk about Hungary. The Brawns were spectacularly dominant there. Furthermore, temperatures should be hotter – good news for a car which, for all its good points, has sometimes struggled to warm its tyres sufficiently. The last two races at Silverstone and the Nurburgring were good examples of how colder conditions do not really suit the Brawn car.
Brawn have also brought updates to Eastern Europe this weekend. They comprise mainly small aerodynamic modifications, on which the team has been working since it became apparent they would be in contention for the world championship this year. But these parts’ delay in arriving might have cost the Brackley team some points. Red Bull have been on top for a good while now, mainly thanks to the genius of Adrian Newey shown by his seamlessly incorporating a double diffuser into an already-quick RB5 chassis.
Red Bull are not letting up, moreover. Their not-inconsiderable resources are being thrown at this year – realistically, probably one of the only chances they will ever have of vanquishing the might of Ferrari and McLaren. Developments are coming thick and fast, and both Webber and Vettel are hungry for more success. The only sticking point that remains for Christian Horner’s concern is inter-team dynamics – the driver pairing are so evenly matched at this point in time that luck alone will probably decide who is chosen to lead the fight towards the end of the season.
Jenson Button, meanwhile, knows how to win at this track. A man who took his first ever win here in 2006 (which seems an age away) will certainly know how to optimise his car’s potential. It is by no means the Somerset man’s last chance to protect his championship lead – whatever happens this weekend he will still walk away with more than a race win in his pocket – but it could be one of his best chances to win another race.
As for the others, no-one was overly surprised that McLaren were vastly improved in Germany. One of the best teams in the sport has been working its socks off to get back to the front. Lewis Hamilton is driving with new fire and determination and Heikki Kovalainen needs to impress to keep his seat. Expect them to be near the leaders.
All this adds to making the spectacle of Hungary all the more interesting. It is a track on which it is difficult to overtake; for which the drivers find hard to set the car up. For the spectators, it can sometimes be boring, but this weekend will be fascinating for its strategic importance alone.