Button has silenced his critics: Whitmarsh
By The Daily Telegraph - HOCKENHEIM (Germany)
24th July 2012 10:52 AM
McLaren team principal hails Jenson Button's second-place finish in Germany and is confident both of his drivers remain in the title race.
Jenson Button's drive at the German GP went a long way to silence critics, says McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh.
Martin Whitmarsh believes that Jenson Button “silenced a few critics” with his battling second place finish in Germany last weekend and is adamant that both of his drivers can still win the title despite Fernando Alonso’s handsome lead at the halfway stage of the season.
Button had been through the leanest spell of his McLaren career prior to the race at Hockenheim, but with the car’s new upgrade package apparently delivering a good chunk of pace and the tyres lasting well, the 32-year-old was once again back in the groove, fighting his way through from sixth on the grid.
"Anyone who doubted Jenson's form, I think he has silenced a few critics,” McLaren’s team principal said. "The car had good pace, Jenson drove well and the team made a fantastic pit stop – 2.3 seconds – to get in front of Sebastian [Vettel]. It was encouraging.”
Formula One now heads to Hungary for the last race before the summer break, and McLaren know they must begin to eat into Alonso’s championship lead.
The Ferrari driver has finished first-second-first in the last three races and now enjoys a 34-point cushion over Red Bull’s Mark Webber in second place.
Hamilton, who suffered an early puncture on Sunday and retired 10 laps from the end, is now a massive 62 points behind the Spaniard whose remarkable consistency has seen him clock up 22 consecutive points-scoring finishes. Button is a further 24 points back and all but out of contention.
Whitmarsh, though, believes there is still plenty of time although he conceded that his team cannot afford many more mistakes.
"We're at the half way point, we've a lot of racing ahead of us, and they can both do it,” he said.
"This season is going to go to the very end. I believe we will be sat on the edge of our seats in the last few laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
"And I hope I'm in deep agony on those last few laps because it means we're in contention to win.
“We're on the pace now, so we just have to keep pushing, keep the faith, keep focused, don't make mistakes.”
Button, meanwhile, said that it might take a run such as the one he produced at Brawn GP at the start of his championship-winning season to get back in contention.
“You never know,” he said. “If you start putting yourself in a position that Fernando does not expect. Even if you have a big margin it still hurts to see another guy so strong. Anything is possible.
“We might have to repeat 2009 in reverse – win six out of seven races in the second half of the season.”
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