BARCELONA, May 6 – Jenson Button will bid to emulate the feats of one of his father John's great heroes this weekend by claiming a 10th Formula One victory to draw level with fellow-Briton and former champion James Hunt in the record books.
The flaxen-haired one-time playboy Hunt won the drivers’ title in 1976 for McLaren and collected 14 pole positions and 10 wins in his relatively brief 92-races career before retiring.
Button, winner of two out of the four early-season ‘flyaway’ races and setting the pace for McLaren in the drivers’ championship, arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday confident he could bid to repeat his dominant 2009 triumph in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
"I think my win here last year was one of my best victories of the season," said Button. "It is one of my favourite tracks and I love the challenge here. It is my kind of track, I guess!
"It’s a circuit that rewards precision, and punishes aggression, and if you’ve a car that wants to under-steer, then you’re going to have a difficult race.
"But, fortunately for us, our car does seem to have a very good neutral balance in the high-speed corners, which is probably the most impressive aspect of the car.
"We also went well here during pre-season testing, so I think we go into this weekend feeling pretty well prepared."
Button, who switched from Brawn GP (now Mercedes) to McLaren at the end of last season, will be inducted to the Circuit de Catalunya’s Avenue of Champions this weekend – a demonstration that will see his likeness joining those of great names including Argentine Juan-Manuel Fangio, Frenchman Alain Prost and Brazilian Ayrton Senna.
But the 30-year-old Englishman made clear he is more focused on his immediate prospects than any past achievements as he looked ahead to this weekend’s first European race of the season.
He holds a 10-points lead over nearest rival German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes – and is hoping to keep himself well in front after two well-judged victories thanks to cool decision-making.
"For me, this is a relatively high-speed circuit, one that’s quite enjoyable to drive, provided your car is working properly!" he said. "The team has done a lot of work and we have a good set of developments for this race so we are feeling pretty optimistic."
Button’s McLaren team-mate and fellow Briton 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton is without a win so far this season and hopes he can soon be back on top of the victors’ podium. "I am sure we are going to be pretty competitive, but we have to see how fast all the other teams are too," he said.
"For sure it is going to be a very interesting, intense and competitive weekend for everybody."