on September 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Red Bull can punish Button, says Horner

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Formula One championship leader Jenson Button will pay a heavy price if he has another weekend like Sunday’s race in Belgium, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

“He can’t continue to have race weekends like he’s had without being punished points-wise in the next couple of events,” Horner told reporters after the Brawn driver crashed out on the first lap at Spa.

“It’s still a four-horse race between now and the end of the championship.”

Button won six of the first seven races but has been making increasingly heavy work of his title bid as the pressure builds up. He has taken just 11 points from his last five starts and on Sunday failed to score for the first time.

He is now 16 points ahead of Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello with five races left.

The Briton reacted angrily when asked by reporters in the build-up to the race at Spa whether he really wanted to win the championship, but he failed to make a convincing case for himself Sunday.

His only consolation has been that his three rivals, Barrichello and Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, have failed to cash in.

Barrichello won in Valencia but then finished seventh in Belgium after starting fourth. Webber racked up four podiums in a row to go second overall and then failed to score in the last two races, slumping back to fourth.

Vettel, now 19 points behind Button, finished third on Sunday after two retirements in a row.

ANOTHER TWIST

Button has been helped by resurgent McLaren and Ferrari, as well as an unrecognisably quick Force India and recovering BMW-Sauber, taking points off his rivals while being out of the reckoning themselves.

Horner said he should not bank on that continuing.

“Rubens has taken 10 points out of him in the last two races and Sebastian six points here, and he’s not had a good weekend since Istanbul in early June,” he said.

“It’s all left to play for, and I think there’s going to be another twist in the championship between now and the end of the year.

“Sebastian has moved to within 19 points and although Mark didn’t score both still have a real chance of overhauling…him.”

Button remained calm but recognized that he had to do something to make life easier for himself.

“I’m positive and excited about the challenge of the next few races. I’m not frustrated or negative,” he told reporters.

“We’ve got to start getting back to being competitive. All I need to do is finish fourth or fifth, but that’s not what I want to do. I want to win races.

“You’ve got to say: ‘Think about the championship’, but I still want to win races.

“I’m not going to suddenly back off after qualifying and take it easy in the races because if I’m in fifth I still want to do well, I still want to win races and I still want to be competitive,” he added.

“And that’s exactly what will hopefully happen in Monza.”

(Editing by Clare Fallon)