Preview - Button, BAR focussed 22 Oct 2004
With the contract wrangling over, Jenson Button and BAR can now concentrate on victory in Brazil, their last chance this year to take that elusive first Grand Prix win.
Even though the Contract Recognition Board has obliged Button to stay with the team in 2005 instead of switching to partner Mark Webber at Williams, Button and team principal David Richards seemed calm and relaxed with one another in Interlagos on Thursday. We both said things that neither of us liked, the 24 year-old Englishman admitted. But it has been good to get them out in the open.
All relationships have ups and downs, high and lows, dont they? Richards enquired. I think its fair to say that nobody expected the performance we delivered this year, and it was not unreasonable for a young driver to look at our track record and wonder what we could deliver in the future. But I think we have both come out of this stronger, and we are more open and frank with each other.
Button added: Its been a very busy last few months, quite draining. Away from the circuits, having it all to think about and worry about has been very tough. A good way to finish the year would be to win this race, and I said that to David this morning. Its been an interesting season for us, good and bad, and that would be a good thing to build on for 2005.
That would be the best result we could hope for this weekend, Richards agreed, and then the thing would be to go away, take a holiday, and get back together to work on getting the best out of the team for 2005.
All of this made spectating Brazilian driver Antonio Pizzonia the happiest man in the paddock, as he could now get a season of Formula One racing with Williams next year. Nevertheless, as he faces his 150th and final grand prix with McLaren, David Coulthard made an impassioned plea to be considered for the role with the team that brought him into the sport in 1994 in the wake of Ayrton Sennas death. I have no contract for 2005 and clearly there is a drive at Williams, the Scot said. My credibility is far and away stronger than anyone elses. Ive had pole positions, wins and fastest laps, and I have been involved in car and tyre development. I know that Pizzonia is inside the door and that I am outside it, but I hope that I can make them realise that I am the smallest risk available to them. Whatever I do, I intend to be driving an F1 car in 2005
Meanwhile, local boy Rubens Barrichello will be going all-out to win his home grand prix for the first time, but he says he is a lot calmer than he has been in the past, thanks in part to his two recent victories in Italy and China.
In all the phases that Ive gone through in my life, especially after Jordan, I had to change my attitude and I had to send the emotions away. I was joking with one of our Italian friends, saying that you dont have to believe things, just because I havent finished the last 10 races here doesnt mean that I wont finish again. I have to remember the good times. I dont believe in bad luck at all. So the weekend is just nice. I have a lot of work to do, and Ive been with the press for a long time now. But this is a good race, its one that I enjoy and its a race where after a hard days work I can go back home and sleep in my bed. Its just so good.
He knows that he cannot expect any help from team mate Michael Schumacher, who is as determined as ever to win it for himself. At the bottom of his heart Michael would like for me to finish quite well here, but if he had to decide whether he was going to win or to let me win, Im sure he would choose for himself to win. So Im not expecting any presents and I dont want any. Im lucky that I can be here in a competitive car, in the state of mind Im feeling right now. Im just putting it in first gear and just seeing my people and going for it.
Besides BAR, Barrichello believes that Ferraris strongest opposition will come from McLaren this weekend. I think BAR are going to be very strong, the Brazilian said. We have a circuit here which depends very much on aerodynamics but also on engine power going up the hill. But I also predict that McLaren are going to be quite strong here from what Ive been seeing in terms of aerodynamics and so on. I think they have quite a quick car, in terms of cornering and pace and so on, so I predict they will be very strong.