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Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 13:49 UK

Honda to keep Button, Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button
Barrichello and Button have been ill-served by their cars this year

Honda expect to stick with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello next season, team boss Ross Brawn has said.

The team had been linked with a move for double champion Fernando Alonso.

But Brawn, who hopes to make the struggling team more competitive next year, told BBC Sport: "I don't think there will be any dramatic change.

"It's unfair to criticise the drivers as we haven't provided them with a good enough car. The likelihood is the same two helmets will be in our 2009 cars."

Both Button and Barrichello are out of contract at the end of the season and Brawn is in the midst of negotiations with them, though he admitted it was "not the highest priority".

However, Brawn, who joined Honda this season following a year off from F1 after a decade of success with Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, revealed it was one of his aims to get Button back to his best.

The Englishman has been with the team since 2003, before Honda's buy-out of the BAR-Honda team in 2005.

But in that time, despite his natural ability, the 28-year-old only has a single victory in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix to his name.

"He's had a rough year this season and we're just trying to understand why," Brawn told BBC Radio 5 Live.

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"Before I came to the team I saw some great performances from Jenson and I want to recapture that again.

"Drivers don't really lose that and if he gets a couple of good results under his belt then he'll be the Jenson that I expected."

Barrichello is the most experienced driver in Formula One, completing 257 races, and gave the team a much-needed lift with third-place at the British Grand Prix.

And Brawn, who worked alongside the Brazilian at Ferrari before he moved to Honda in 2006, believes the 36-year-old can justify his drive next season.

"He's the perfect driver to have at this stage of rebuilding a career," Brawn said. "He's got lots of experience and his driving is excellent at the moment.

"We won't do anything for sentimental reason. It would have to be because he justifies it - and I think he does."

Barrichello has claimed 11 points for the team in 2008, with Button winning three, and Brawn believes what the team really need to focus on is developing a competitive car for 2009.

Honda team boss Ross Brawn (left) and driver Rubens Barrichello
Brawn (left) has Barrichello - the most experienced driver in F1 - in his team

"Ruben's podium was a boost for the team but it was also a recognition that unless we get similar (wet) conditions we don't have a car to achieve podium finishes," Brawn commented.

"I'm sure if we provide them with a car they will be capable of winning races.

"I'm not happy with our present position but we have to bide our time and it's not pleasant struggling in this position."

But Brawn believes that the new rules for next season, including major aerodynamic changes and the introduction of energy recovery systems, gives his team a chance to catch the front-runners.

"On the design side and aerodynamic side it won't be very long before 100% (development) will be focused for next year," Brawn added.

"So I see lots of reasons to be optimistic in terms of our organisation for the future."

Button, who had been equivocal about his commitment to Honda during a BBC Sport interview at Silverstone two weeks ago, has said during the German Grand Prix weekend that he was also confident the team were on the right track.

Ross knows the areas that we needed to improve in so I have no worries about the team for the future

Jenson Button

"I don't think there is another team that any driver could drive for that is going to do a better job than this team next season," he told autosport.com. "You never know where Ferrari and McLaren are going to be.

"They have been very strong over the last few years, so you can't really count them out. And to get on their pace next year, here at Honda, is a big step forward. But with such a big rule change I think it's possible.

"I think this is a good place to be and that is why I think I'm sure other top drivers in Formula One who aren't in a Ferrari or a McLaren would be interested in driving here next year.

"They know that Ross has achieved a lot in the past. For sure it is not just down to one man, but they know that he knows what it takes to be world champion.

"It's not like a driver knowing what it takes, because while he has his input, it's nowhere near as much as a technical director or a team principal.

"Ross is controlling the team very well and putting people in the right places to do their jobs correctly, and making sure that we are all working together as we should be.

"He knows the areas that we needed to improve in, which have improved in a lot already this season. So I have no worries about the team for the future."




see also
Hamilton dominates in Hockenheim
18 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Button sees end to waiting game
03 Jul 08 |  Formula One


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