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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 19:05 GMT
Button to get Brawn treatment
By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Honda HQ

Honda drivers Jenson Button (left) and Rubens Barrichello (right) with Honda team principal Ross Brawn
Brawn (centre) believes he can make Button (left) and Barrichello competitive

New Honda team principal Ross Brawn is certain he can turn Jenson Button into a race winner again.

The British driver claimed his first victory in 2006 at the Hungary Grand Prix but spent last season going backwards, collecting just six points with what he described as a "dog" of a car.

Brawn, the former Ferrari technical director who arrived at Honda last November, plans to change all that now he is in charge.

"Jenson is more than capable of winning races," said Brawn, at the launch of Honda's new RA108 car.

"How can I help him to do that? Well, I can give him a decent car for a start; that's my first priority.

"I've always been impressed by him from a distance. His performance in 2007 was exceptional given the very difficult circumstances.

"If we give Jenson a car then he'll be able to win races."

The woeful performance of last year's Honda, which struggled with a poor front-end design and was prone to unpredictable pitch and roll, has acted as a catalyst to immense change at Honda.


Alongside Brawn, the brains behind six consecutive constructors' championships at Ferrari, new aerodynamics, design and engineering personnel are in place.

With Ferrari and McLaren still way ahead of the pack in pre-season performance, Honda are chasing to get on level terms with BMW Sauber, Renault and Williams.

The team aim to deliver Button a car capable of winning grands prix by 2009 but Brawn is still demanding full focus from the Briton for the season ahead.

After working alongside seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, Brawn expects nothing less than total dedication from his drivers.

"One thing I learned from Michael was the work ethic," said Brawn, who was dubbed "super brain" by the German.

"That was very strong with him and brought its own reward.

"I will be encouraging Jenson in that respect. You can miss out on a lot if you leave early after practice and don't spend time with your engineers."

While Button's natural talent has never been in doubt, he has drawn criticism for his attitude.

I'm very motivated - I wouldn't have spent my whole winter working my ass off training in Lanzarote if I wasn't

Jenson Button

Former world champion Nigel Mansell went as far as saying: "He's got a great reputation for partying".

Last season Button had to battle to 14th place in the drivers' championship, while witnessing the rapid rise of McLaren's new British racing star Lewis Hamilton.

No-one could blame Button, who is entering his ninth season in F1, if he was feeling a little jaded and disillusioned.

But the 28-year-old insists he already has the type of commitment that his new team boss expects of him.

"I'm very motivated," said Button. "I wouldn't have spent my whole winter working my ass off training in Lanzarote if I wasn't.

"I feel that I'm the fittest driver on the grid and the most focused driver out there. I'm definitely hungry and I want a competitive car.

"Ross can't have a lot of input in the way the car is at the moment but he knows what to do to build a better car.

"He has so much experience in winning world championships and now we have everything in place to challenge for championships in the future.

Honda's new RA108 car
The new car Honda hope will be an improvement on the 2007 model

"But it's not a case of what I can learn from Ross; it's about what ideas he can give to the team to strengthen it in all areas.

"We're working hard to push this team forward; but I can't do it on my own and neither can Ross."

The talk of team togetherness will please Brawn, who spoke convincingly at the launch of his desire to create a united talent force at Honda.

Honda driver Rubens Barrichello knows Brawn better than anyone in the team after working with the Englishman for six seasons at Ferrari.

And the Brazilian says Brawn's ethic of team-work twinned with strong leadership could be the key to turning he and Button into race winners once more and realising Honda's world championship potential.

"Ross Brawn is what was missing last year," said Barrichello. "There were too many people trying to be leaders and it was just confusing.

"You can see with Ross the way he commands the whole attitude of the team and gives them peace.

"You can talk to him about anything and he knows the answer but the most important thing is his calm in relating to good or bad stuff.

"I think he can build something at Honda that will have a period of winning just like he did at Ferrari.

"I'm sure Ross Brawn has not come to Honda just to win one race."

And if Button wants to beat Hamilton to becoming the next British champion that should be all the encouragement he needs.

Honda driven to reverse decline
29 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton 'can surpass Schumacher'
29 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Button excited by Brawn's arrival
16 Nov 07 |  Formula One
Brawn tempted by Honda challenge
12 Nov 07 |  Formula One
Button issues ultimatum to Honda
11 Nov 07 |  Formula One


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