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Button and Hamilton refocus on stormy Sepang 03 Apr 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 2 April 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 2 April 2009

While Lewis Hamilton and McLaren stole the headlines on Thursday with their exclusion from third place in last week’s Australian Grand Prix, and were accused by the race stewards of ‘deliberately misleading’ them, Jenson Button did his best to downplay expectations that Brawn will dominate another race this weekend.

“It’s been a great feeling this week, after the weekend in Melbourne,” Button admitted, “for myself and for the team. But we very quickly had to look forward to the next chapter this weekend. Of course we hope to be quick here. You would expect us to be competitive here, but the reality is that nobody knows yet. I enjoy this circuit, it’s a very fast and flowing track. I’m looking forward to getting out on it, but weatherwise it’s going to be trickier than in Melbourne.”

Heavy rain fell on Thursday afternoon, and more is expected. There is growing concern among the drivers at the prospect of rain during the race itself, especially as it does not start until 1700 hours on Sunday, about the time the scattered thunderstorms in the area tend to make themselves a nuisance.

“If it rains like this,” Button said on Thursday, as torrents punctuated his speech, “it’ll just be all about keeping it on the circuit.”

Melbourne star Sebastian Vettel said: “I’m young and haven’t been around long, but there have been a lot of races where wet conditions have mixed up the fields.”

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton thought: “When it’s wet it becomes a lottery for everyone and it’s not necessarily the fastest car that wins.”

“Our problem is that we haven’t done any running in the wet with our car,” Button continued. “It will be crucial for us to set the cars up just right for the wet. If we get that wrong, we’ll be nowhere. “I’m really hoping that it will be dry this weekend, because you always do want it to be dry when you have a competitive car. It always rains here at 5pm, and really Rubens (Barrichello) and I are hoping it rains at some stage during practice so we can work on the car set-ups.”

Nevertheless, he said he is feeling very happy to be leading the world championship, but added: “Of course it feels great. Melbourne was a good race and not a lucky one. We were out front the whole race; I qualified on pole and led every lap. But if I am still leading after 17 races - that would be very special. And there is along way to go before that.

“The last thing I want to see is headlines that say: ‘Button ready to win the world championship!’ I am, and mentally I am excited, but like I said, there is a long way to go. There is no use to be thinking another 16 races down the road. It is all about just getting points on the board, it’s about now. It’s about forgetting about last weekend, and thinking purely about this weekend.”

David Tremayne