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Hamilton and Button - what a difference a year makes 19 Jun 2009

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 18 June 2009 Brawn Grand Prix practice pit stops.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 18 June 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 18 June 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 18 June 2009 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 18 June 2009

No two drivers’ fortunes could be more contrasting as they head into their home Grand Prix than those of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. A year ago the former had no chance in a recalcitrant Honda, that might at best aspire to a lowly points finish, while the latter looked for his first victory on home soil.

Now it is Button in the pound seats, looking for a seventh victory from eight races in a Brawn Mercedes that, frankly, has been the sensation of the season, and Hamilton who believes that points in his awkward McLaren Mercedes would count as a major achievement.

“This is a very special race,” Button said yesterday. “I think for both of us when we were learning how to drive in single seaters this was a place we enjoyed very much. It is your home grand prix, so it is always going to be very special. But also the British fans are fantastic. There are so many fans in Britain for motorsport and for Formula One. Last year was a sell out crowd and I am guessing it will be the same this year and you don’t get that in many circuits around the world, especially the way the economy is at the moment.

“Hopefully we can put a good show on for them this weekend. This is a circuit that I love. It is a fantastic, fast flowing circuit like Spa and Suzuka. It is one of the true greats and it has been for the last few decades. It is a pity it won’t be on the calendar next year. I think a lot of drivers will agree with me and a lot of fans will agree also. I just hope we have a British Grand Prix next year as it means a lot to us.”

Hamilton echoed those sentiments.

“Jenson just said it all really. It is a fantastic circuit and for us when we were growing up seeing the history of the circuit and the winners that have been here and the world champions in the past. It is great to come here and try to in some ways emulate them and try to do same thing they did and bring the win back home for the Brits. The fans are incredible here compared to any circuit I feel through the year.

“This is the one place that has the best vibe and has the most people standing there. It could be thunderstorms, it could be any type of weather but they will still be standing up holding their umbrellas or whatever it is, especially last year. They never seem to give up with their support and it is as important to them as it is to us drivers and all the teams, so I will be pushing as hard as I can with my position to try and keep the British Grand Prix wherever it is. As long as we have a British Grand Prix it is the most important thing.”

And while Button is as confident in his chances as one would expect after a stunning victory in Turkey, Hamilton added: “I think Jenson understands what I am going through and how tough it is when you don’t particularly have the right package beneath you to be able to show what you can do or to get the right results. But when you are in that position you just maximise it. So all these years Jenson has been maximising what he had in the past and now he is maximising what he has now. It is the same for me. I am maximising the car that I have and just trying to finish all the races and trying to push the team forward.

“It’s going to be a tough race as it is a high-speed circuit but hopefully we have made some steps forward. We don’t have many update things coming for this race but fingers crossed we have maybe changed the set-up a little bit which will help, but I guess we won’t really know until tomorrow.”

While they were talking, Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello was elsewhere in the paddock smiling quietly. Despite the problems he encountered in Turkey, where he was convinced he could win, and at other races in a season dominated by his team mate, he is convinced that he can turn his fortunes around here.

“Would I feel guilty if I were to beat Jenson here at home?” he mused, with a big grin on his face. “Oh no! We get on really well and we are friends, and it’s not about beating him as such. It’s not personal. But I really feel that I have a great chance to get my victory this weekend. I love this track and I’m going to be doing everything I can to be the winner here on Sunday.”

David Tremayne