Button warns F1 rivals will close the gap

Button (left) and Barrichello started the season with a 1-2 for Brawn GP.
Jenson Button says he and teammate Rubens Barrichello will not be underestimating their F1 rivals after a triumphant 1-2 in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Brawn GP pair dominated Sunday’s race at Albert Park, leading many to predict they will take a stranglehold on this season’s title race. But Melbourne winner Button is warning against complacency. “I hope we are quick all season and I hope we have an advantage all season, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” he told Press Association. “Rubens and I are both going to be very competitive, pushing each other very hard. “But I’ve a feeling other teams are going to be on us very quickly, and when we get to a different type of circuit, maybe in Malaysia, some other cars which weren’t so competitive here will be.” Sunday’s sweep of the first two places completed a fairytale recovery for a team which was rescued from bankruptcy by Ross Brawn and team chief Nick Fry after Honda pulled out of F1 late last year. After barely three weeks of testing, the Brawn GP was consistently quicker than more established teams with Button winning from pole for his second grand prix victory. Not since 1954, when legendary five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio led home Karl Kling for Mercedes in the French Grand Prix, has a team taken the top two places on their debut. But a question mark hangs over the much talked about rear diffusers on the Brawn cars and also used by Williams and Toyota. An appeal by rival teams hangs over the results but Button said they were concentrating on results on the track.

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“That’s nothing we can change as drivers,” he said. “We’re here to put on a show, and also to get the best out of the equipment on offer, which is exactly what we did over the weekend.” Meanwhile, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton feels he faces the hardest challenge of his career to help McLaren again become world title contenders. He drove an impeccable race to lift an underperforming car to third place in Melbourne but he is taking a realistic view of the rest of the season. “Every year gets harder and I would say right now is the biggest challenge for myself, and also for the team,” he said. The Formula One circus now moves to Sepang in Malaysia for the second round of the championship later this week.