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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 11:21 GMT
Button ready to win - Coulthard
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Jenson Button
Coulthard says Button is as good as anyone in F1
Jenson Button is poised to break his duck and win his first Grand Prix this year, David Coulthard has told the BBC.

Button has driven 102 Formula One races without winning but Coulthard said he expected that run to end this season, which starts in Bahrain on Sunday.

Coulthard said: "He's good enough to win. He's fired up. He looks fit. The Honda seems quick, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's challenging for wins.

Renault design boss Pat Symonds said he was also "convinced" Button would win.

"He's got the car to do it and the ability to do it," said Symonds. "I'm convinced he's going to win races this year; I'm just not quite so convinced about the championship.

"I don't mean that as any sleight against him. I think he and the team can do it, but I'm not sure they will - it's going to be very close this year."

But Symonds - who has worked with world champion Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Button - added that Button was not among the very best drivers in F1.

I want to win the first race for this team - if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, there will be reasons for it
Jenson Button
"There are divisions within the drivers," Symonds said, "and I do think Michael, Fernando and Kimi [Raikkonen of McLaren] are in a division of their own, and in that division I wouldn't really like to rank them.

"Jenson is outside the top three, but he's probably inside the top six. But I wouldn't like to be more specific than that."

That belief is widespread among F1 insiders - but Coulthard said it was mistaken.

"Jenson is the real deal. It just takes the right environment, the right time - don't doubt he has all the talents to win Grands Prix and challenge for championships," Coulthard said.

Button is facing possibly the most crucial season of his career following the arrival of Rubens Barrichello from Ferrari as his team-mate at the team that used to be called BAR-Honda.

The Brazilian veteran is a known quantity, having won nine races for Ferrari without being a match for Schumacher.

David Coulthard chats with Jenson Button
Coulthard (left) says his friend Button is "the real deal"
If he beats Button this year having just arrived at a team for whom Button has driven for three years, serious questions will be asked about Button's ability.

But Button said he is determined to break his team's duck - and win Honda's first race as a constructor since 1968.

Button said: "I want to win the first race for this team. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, there will be reasons for it.

"We know the importance of working together. We are not winning races yet and we need to work together as much as possible to keep improving the car and I'm sure we will.

"When we're on the circuit it will be different, we will be rivals on the circuit. "If we are going to be challenging for wins this year it is going to start at the first race. We are very positive this year."

Follow live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix on the BBC Sport website. Qualifying is at 1100 GMT on Saturday 11 March, with the race at 1130 the next day


SEE ALSO
Button needs maiden win - Mansell
16 Feb 06 |  Formula One
Button 'faces make or break year'
04 Jan 06 |  Formula One
Honda are 'better than Ferrari'
04 Jan 06 |  Formula One
Honda's drivers are 'best in F1'
25 Jan 06 |  Formula One
Button hits back over criticism
23 Sep 05 |  Formula One


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