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Button happy to be home 09 Jun 2006

Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team talks to the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, 8 June 2006

...but holds out little hope of a British race win

Honda’s Jenson Button loves racing at home, that much was clear as he spoke yesterday of his thoughts for his seventh British Grand Prix.

“It’s a great feeling to race at home, especially with the weather like this. It’s great to see the sun out and it’s going to stay for the whole weekend. That’s great, it’s going to be pretty special for fans, especially for the English having the footie on Saturday and being able to watch it on the big screens.”

The football World Cup, of course, is a dominant focus this weekend for many, and Silverstone’s schedule has been modified around it. Practice today will run as usual, with one hour from 1100 to 1200 local time this morning, and another from 1400 to 1500 this afternoon. However, practice tomorrow morning runs from 0930 to 1030, with qualifying from 1230 to 1330.

“It obvious where my loyalties lie,” Button smiled. “England is a fantastic team, and hopefully they’ll work well together. I think it could be a very good year for English football. I’ll be watching it in my debrief room after qualifying.”

On the track, however, the 26 year-old Englishman has made it clear he doesn’t expect to challenge for his first victory in 108 grands prix.

“We are not going to suddenly jump forward compared to Monaco,” he said candidly. “Renault and Ferrari are very strong, McLaren too. It’s very difficult because it’s so competitive out there at the moment. For us to say where we might finish would be a silly thing to do. I will just try to get the best from the package that we have, and that’s our aim. We’ll see where we end up.

“I don’t envisage this weekend fighting with McLaren, Renault and Ferrari. But I can see doing that in the future, that’s the reason why we’re here. We have things coming; we have a new full-size wind tunnel coming on line, and that will make a big difference to us, so I’m very positive for the future that we’ll challenge at the front. Of course I look forward to this weekend, your home grand prix is always very special, and I’m hoping for a good result, but for me that’s going to be getting the best out of the package.

“It’s great to be here, it’s a fantastic atmosphere for a British driver, but it doesn’t make me feel under any more pressure at all. I will give all I can to get the best performance out of car, but I can’t do better than that.”

Renault, meanwhile, are quietly confident that they have the tyre and the aerodynamics for a circuit on which cornering speeds have risen dramatically despite the power reduction of the 2.4 litre V8s compared to last year’s 3 litre V10s. Better handling and softer tyres have enabled the cars to get into corners quicker and the drivers to stay on the power and brake less.

“After the start we just really dab the brakes after the Maggotts chicane, and even at Stowe we don’t brake hard,” Button revealed. “You don’t want to scrub off speed there. The only place now that you brake really hard is at Vale, for Club, and at Priory. More than ever, you need a balanced car here, and to be quick and accurate.”