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02 Nov 2009 13:31
New drivers world champion Briton Jenson Button said he will be faster and stronger than ever next year after finishing third in Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix—but rivals Red Bull immediately issued their own defiant statement of intent.
The 29-year-old Englishman, who came home behind the dominant Red Bull pairing of German Sebastian Vettel and his teammate Australian Mark Webber, said he believed the mental experience of achieving his first title would give him greater confidence.
“I have been through so much this season,” he said. “It has been like a whole career in one year and it has taught me so much about everything, racing and myself.
I am sure to be a lot stronger next year.”
Button’s self-belief was clear for all to see as he handled the clamour following the glamorous finale at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit before heading off to his private celebration party on Yas Island.
It also signalled that he is virtually certain to remain with the Brawn team next year and not make an unexpected and illogical switch to rivals McLaren Mercedes as teammate to fellow Briton and former champion Lewis Hamilton.
“I know what it takes now and after taking some time off I intend to come back again and be stronger than ever,” said Button.
“What I’ve been through this season I haven’t experienced before.
“I’ve learnt a lot. I’ll for sure be a stronger driver when I get on the grid for the first race in Bahrain.”
After an opening run of six wins in seven races, Button had to suffer through the middle months of the season as Red Bull caught up in performance and other teams, like McLaren Mercedes, made up ground lost at the start of the year when Brawn GP had the advantage of their double-diffuser system.
But Button believed he deserved his title—as did his rivals—for his consistency through the year and his calm assurance under pressure in the final races of the season.
He said: “Getting on the podium here was what I came to achieve.
The Red Bull was just a little bit too fast for us, but this race is a bit of a bonus for me. After winning the world championship, I came here to have a bit of fun and really enjoy myself and that’s exactly what I did.”
“The next dream is to get out there and challenge the rest of the drivers for the championship next season. That’s the most important thing. I will be 30 in the winter and I will have the experience now!”
“Ferrari and McLaren are going to be competitive next season. They have the resources, they have the expertise, they have competitive drivers. For sure they are going to be quick. They’ve had a different approach over the last few races.
“If you look at Ferrari, they’ve said that they’ve had no development which is unusual to hear, as there’s not much that changes for next season. But it seems that McLaren have thrown everything at the car and have been very competitive over the last couple of races.
“So going into next year, they’re going to be quicker compared to the start of this season but I don’t think they’re suddenly going to be stronger than Red Bull or Brawn. I think there’s going to be a big battle at the front which is going to be a new thing for all of us.”
The Red Bull men were equally bullish about the future. Maybe we didn’t succeed with the world championship this time, but I think we can be proud of what we achieved,” said Vettel, who ended the season as runner-up to Button.
“We have learned a lot and we are going to be stronger.”
Webber added: “We have a fantastic team of talented people back at the factory in Milton Keynes with Adrian Newey there, too, and I am sure we are going to be stronger than ever next season. I am sure of that.”
But with two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso lining up at Ferrari next year, Webber conceded it will not be easy for anyone to dominate.
“They are going to be strong again for sure and there are good teams with strong line-ups to think about. It is going to be a tough year but a very thrilling one.”—AFP
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