Button will be pressing his own
Sat, 01 Sep 2012 8:12a.m.
By Jerome Pugmire
Jenson Button will not sacrifice his own ambitions to help Lewis Hamilton for the rest of the Formula One season, even though his McLaren teammate is in a stronger position.
Button, who won the season's opener in Australia, has drifted down to seventh place overall and is 41 points behind Hamilton. Button is a further
88 points back from championship leader Fernando Alonso with nine races left, including the Belgian GP in Spa.
But while Button does not realistically expect to catch Alonso, he still feels Hamilton is within his sights, and does not expect team orders to work only for Hamilton - who is fourth overall and has a realistic shot at his second F1 title.
"I'm not here to just race around and just help my teammate win a championship, because none of us are. We're here to fight and we're here to do the best job we can for ourselves first of all," Button said. "It's not a big margin, it's less than two wins. Half the grid is in front of their teammates. All their teammates are not going to turn round and say, `Yes, we're going to help my teammate win the championship' because you still think you're going to have a good chance."
Button, the 2009 F1 champion, thinks it would be "a pretty boring championship" if drivers worked only for their better-placed teammates.
McLaren is second in the constructors' championship, 53 points behind rival Red Bull.
"The last two races for us before the break were very good. I had a second in Hockenheim and obviously Lewis' win in Hungary, so we come here positive we can get a very good result," Button said. "Lewis is (47 points) behind Fernando and I think he thinks he's got a very good chance."
Defending champion Sebastian Vettel is not worried about being behind rival Fernando Alonso in their duel to become Formula One champions for the third time.
Vettel, so dominant with Red Bull a year ago, has won only once race so far. Alonso has won three, and the two-time F1 champion is brimming with confidence.
Vettel has nine races left to wipe out a 42-point deficit on Alonso, starting with the Spa GP, which Vettel won last year from pole position.
"The season is quite long, there are more races, and I am confident that we will be able to win at least one of them," said Vettel, who won 10 races and had a record 15 poles last year.
"Of course we would love to win more, but unfortunately we did not use the chances that we had here and there so far," the German driver added.
Vettel has only three podiums overall in a topsy-turvy season that has five racers bidding to become F1 champion. But he thinks there will be fewer surprises in the coming weeks - such as when Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish GP in May.
"The more races you have down the road, the more consistent you hopefully get," he said.
The 25-year-old Vettel praised Michael Schumacher, who is poised to compete in his 300th GP on Sunday at the age of 43.
"Michael is a very special guy, I was looking up to him ever since I was a kid," Vettel said.
Brazilian driver Felipe Massa got an unwelcome surprise when the rear of his Ferrari started billowing smoke near the end of the first practice session.
Massa was preparing to go out onto the rain-soaked Spa track near the end of P1 when he suddenly parked his car up.
His Ferrari team later confirmed that a faulty engine was to blame.
Massa had a difficult season last year, finishing sixth overall, and is struggling this season. He is 14th overall, 139 points behind his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, who is the overall championship leader.
Lewis Hamilton expects Saturday's third practice session to be hectic as drivers try to make up for time lost in the two rain-soaked runs.
Hard rain limited most drivers to short bursts on the treacherous Spa circuit. Others, like Red Bull's Mark Webber, chose not to come out as conditions worsened for Friday's second practice.
"P3 (Practice 3) is going to be a lot busier than normal. As long as it's not like P2 then everyone is going to be out straight away to get some mileage in," said Hamilton, who is fourth overall as he chases his second Formula One title. "It's going to be very interesting trying to find the correct setup in the short space of time we'll have tomorrow."
Hamilton is optimistic for kinder weather, with qualifying set for the afternoon.
"Hopefully it's blowing over and we can get down to business," he said.
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