Formula One: Button hoping home advantage helps for victory



SILVERSTONE, Josh Collings - After six wins in races this year, Jenson Button heads home to the British Grand Prix this weekend hoping to complete a magnificent seven and maintain his dominant position on top of the drivers' world championship.
The 29-year-old Englishman and his Brawn GP team have ruled almost everywhere since the season-opening race in Australia, but have never experienced the warm satisfaction that comes with racing at home as the leaders.



Formula One: Button hoping home advantage helps for victory
And this weekend's British contest is given an extra bitter-sweet edge for home drivers and their fans because it may be the last to be hosted by Silverstone before the race is switched to Donington next year.
It could also be a weekend overshadowed by F1 politics as the teams and the ruling body attempt to settle their differences on budget caps and threatened breakaway series.
Button said: "The British Grand Prix is always an amazing weekend and I can't wait to race at Silverstone in front of our home fans
"To be leading the championship going into my home grand prix is something that I've never experienced before -- and it puts a smile on my face every time I think about it."
This year's British race will be Button's 10th tilt for home glory after nine without even a podium position. If he wins, he will join seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher in the record books as winner of seven of the eight season-opening races.
"I've raced at Silverstone from some fairly tough positions in the past, but the fans have always been so supportive and I'd love to give them a performance that they can really enjoy this weekend.
"We took a good step forward with the balance of our car in Turkey, but know that our closest competitors are going to be good in the high-speed corners so it will be an interesting weekend.
"If we come away with a good result, I'll be so happy on Sunday! It's strange to think that this might be our last race at Silverstone - I just can't imagine not having a British Grand Prix so we'll be going all-out to put on a fantastic show."
Button's Brawn team-mate veteran Brazilian Rubens Barrichello is also excited at the prospect of this race on a circuit where he 'grew up' as a racing driver.
"Silverstone is one of my all-time favourite circuits and I absolutely love it," he said. "The track is fantastic as it is one of the few remaining on the calendar that are high-speed, fast-flowing and really allow you to let the car go through the quick corners.
"My win here in 2003 was really special and it's fantastic to be returning this year with a car that has the potential to compete for the victory. I know that there is a lot of expectation for us going into the weekend, but we will remain calm and focus on doing the best job that we can."
The Brawn duo's main rivals could this weekend by Red Bull and Ferrari, particularly as the Italians will be running with an updated car that they predict will produce their most competitive form of the year to date.
Brazilian Felipe Massa said: "I don't think we will struggle like we did a fortnight ago in Turkey even if the tracks are a bit similar. We have a lot of aerodynamic revisions and I think Silverstone will suit us better and we should be a lot more competitive.
"In Turkey we went backwards over the course of the weekend, after being very competitive on Friday and on Saturday morning. We now know why that happened, which is the most important thing."
Massa's bullish optimism was mirrored at Red Bull, whose Milton Keynes base is just 15 minutes away from Silverstone, by Australian driver Mark Webber, who is revelling in his best F1 season.
"I'm enjoying my battle with my team-mate (German) Sebastian Vettel - and it's the first time I've had someone so quick as my team-mate. I've always said that's what it's all about.
"At this level, you want to compare yourself to the best guys. Vettel is hot property at the moment and he's done a great job to get where he is, but there's just a point and a half between us in the championship.
"If he's down the road by 40 seconds at the end of a grand prix and I've done my best, I can't do anything about that, and it's the same with him - he did his best in Turkey and it wasn't enough. I beat him.
"It's going to be like that for the rest of the season. There'll be weekends when I do better and weekends when he does but the most important thing is that we get the best out of the car."
Last year's British home hero defending drivers champion Lewis Hamilton has already conceded that, because his McLaren Mercedes is not competitive, the best he can hope for is a distant points-scoring position.
"I have to be realistic, but I will do my best and hope to give the fans something to cheer because this is such a great event at a great circuit. I love to go to Silverstone - it always feels like home for me," he said.
Hamilton has scored only nine points this season compared to Button, on 61, and Barrichello, second on 35. In the constructors' championship, Brawn lead with 96 points ahead of Red Bull on 56.5.
The British Grand Prix is the eighth round of this year's 17-race championship calendar.
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Thursday, June 18th 2009
Josh Collings
           


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