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Page last updated at 20:55 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 21:55 UK

Button warned about playing safe

Venue: Interlagos Dates: 16-18 October 2009 Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1700 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Jenson Button

Button wary of Barrichello and Vettel

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Sao Paulo

Jenson Button's decision to take a cautious approach at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix could prove costly, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has warned.

A podium finish by Button would secure the title but Whitmarsh said Lewis Hamilton almost lost out last year because McLaren tried to play safe.

He said: "There is a lot of pressure but Jenson shouldn't be too cautious.

"He doesn't have to go all out to win but if he gets too defensive it could hamper his natural flair and flow."

After losing the 2007 title in Brazil, Hamilton needed only to finish fifth at the same race in 2008 to clinch the title even if Ferrari rival Felipe Massa took the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel

Webber will help Red Bull cause - Vettel

But Hamilton only managed to move into fifth at the final two corners to snatch the title in the dying seconds of the race.

Whitmarsh has warned Button and his Brawn team against adopting a similarly cautious approach this weekend, even though they have a cushion of a race still to come at Abu Dhabi.

"We took a relatively defensive strategy and it turned into a very difficult race for all of us," said Whitmarsh, who succeeded Ron Dennis as McLaren team principal at the start of this season.

"We made some mistakes in 2007 and went flat out when we didn't need to and so we should have guided Lewis better last season when there was an enormous amount of pressure on him.

"Brawn can't be too defensive as it is very, very competitive in Formula 1. If Button does his job normally with the car he has and the points advantage that he has, then he ought to win the championship and he ought to win it here.

"It is a balance but that is what racing drivers are pretty good at: assessing the risk factor."


Ahead of the the first practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Button told BBC Sport that he was in a positive frame of mind.

"It's going to be tough weekend for all of us because the weather is a bit iffy," he said. "The changes that we've made should make the feeling of the car much better round a circuit like this.

"I know that we won't make any mistakes here. We've been through every scenario [this season] and it's about making it happen. That's what are going to do here.

"Qualifying is obviously important around this circuit but race pace can be key here if you have a good strategy. It's about staying calm and not making it too complicated.

"I can't do anything about them [title challengers Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel]. I've just got to drive my heart out in the next two races."

Massa, who lost the 2008 title by a single point, believes Button is still the favourite to win the drivers' championship even though his compatriot Rubens Barrichello and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel are still in the hunt.

"Jenson has more chance [to win the title] as he has the most clear possibility to win," said Massa, who was making his first visit to a grand prix since his crash at the Hungarian GP.

Rubens Barrichello

Barrichello vows to 'go for it' in Brazil

"I hope Rubens has the chance to fight for the championship but it is more difficult for him."

Massa pulled out all the stops to claim an impressive victory in Brazil last season but he says Button does not need to risk taking a similarly gung-ho approach.

"Button just needs to do his best," added Massa. "He needs to push but to be careful with the fight.

"Not touching wheels with the other cars, not to be too aggressive in overtaking is the most important thing because then there's a risk he could finish outside the points."

Hamilton advised Button, who is aiming to follow his compatriot as the 10th British world champion, to stay relaxed as the title race draws to a conclusion.

"I can't say how Jenson is feeling as it's different for everyone," Hamilton said. "But I arrive here last year relaxed and in good spirits.

"It is all about balancing your mind and your focus."

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see also
Button to take cautious approach
16 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso on top as Brawn show pace
16 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brazil Grand Prix practice results
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Jenson Button
02 Nov 09 |  Formula 1

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