We’ve read a lot about the importance of unshakeable optimism and self-belief among professional athletes and sports stars.
And, given what we do here at Brits on Pole, we really want to support Jenson Button, whose tenacity in the face of recent problems has been admirable.
But asking us to sign up to the idea that Frome’s finest is set to top the standings next year?
And suggesting the only thing that might stop them is the possibility of McLaren and Ferrari having a decent crack at the championship themselves?
We know Ross Brawn can sometimes appear to perform miracles from the F1 pitwall. But God Almighty he ain’t.
Nevertheless, in an interview with Autosport.com at Hockenheim, Button told the magazine: “I don’t think there is another team that any driver could drive for that is going to do a better job than this team [Honda] next season.
“You never know where Ferrari and McLaren are going to be. They have been very strong over the last few years, so you can’t really count them out.
“And to get on their pace next year, here at Honda, is a big step forward. But with such a big rule change I think it’s possible.”
Just pause for a moment, and read that again.
Honda the best possible team to be driving for and capable of seeing off underdog challenges from McLaren and Ferrari. Yep, no matter how many times we read that quote, it still says the same thing.
There is no arguing with the fact that Brawn’s proven effectiveness, Button’s driving talent and Barrichello’s vast experience at the very top of the sport should be a fearsome combination.
And the rule changes Button mentions, involving slick tyres, budget limitations and the possible introduction of the KERS system, should certainly level the playing field and put something of a brake on the bigger teams.
But, before Rubens got his freak podium at a rain-drenched Silverstone, Honda’s main competitors were the backmarkers Toro Rosso and Force India. Even making an impression in the dense midfield battle has proved beyond the team’s reach.
The idea that it will overtake Red Bull, Renault, Toyota and, for God’s sake, BMW in order to dominate the ‘big two’ on their own terms seems to us to require a towering effort of optimism that is, unfortunately, beyond us today.
Of course, the elephant in the corner is the notion that Honda might well want to change its driver line-up if it does start mining some fabulous seam of success.
Ross Brawn has publicly been extremely supportive of both Button and Barrichello. However the team’s CEO Nick Fry has been markedly less keen to reassure them about the future, saying the team will field the best that the marketplace can provide.
The name Fernando Alonso keeps getting mentioned, not least in this Autosport article.
And it’s interesting to hear Button tackle this issue. He says: “I think this is a good place to be and that is why I think I’m sure other top drivers in Formula One who aren’t in a Ferrari or a McLaren would be interested in driving here next year.
“They know that Ross has achieved a lot in the past. For sure it is not just down to one man, but they know that he knows what it takes to be world champion. It’s not like a driver knowing what it takes, because while he has his input, it’s nowhere near as much as a technical director or a team principal.
“Ross is controlling the team very well and putting people in the right places to do their jobs correctly, and making sure that we are all working together as we should be. He knows the areas that we needed to improve in, which have improved in a lot already this season. So I have no worries about the team for the future.”
Read the full interview here >>