NURBURGRING, July 9 – Drivers world championship leader Briton Jenson Button is confident he can bounce back to top form in this weekend's German Grand Prix.After a disappointing outing in his home race at Silverstone last month, the 29-year-old Englishman believes his Mercedes-Benz-powered team will storm back to compete at the front with much-improved Red Bull.
The Red Bull outfit dominated the British Grand Prix with rising German star Sebastian Vettel claiming a memorable victory to press home his own bid to win this year’s drivers’ title.
Vettel, on home soil this weekend, is also confident that the team can repeat the form that gave them a one-two at Silverstone where Button finished sixth and his Brawn team-mate Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello was third.
Button said: "My last stint at Silverstone showed that the pace of the car is really competitive — so we’re confident that we can turn it around at this race.
"I’m sure we will see a really intense fight with our closest competitors and hopefully a great race for the fans."
In a team preview, he explained: "With the extra week’s break, everyone at the factory and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines has been working extremely hard in preparation for the German Grand Prix.
"They want to get the best package for the race and we’re looking forward to showing what the car can do at the Nurburgring after a disappointing weekend by our standards at the British Grand Prix."
Team chief Ross Brawn is adamant his team will emerge stronger after their worst weekend of the year so far at Silverstone. Before that, Button had won six out of seven races to create a runaway lead in the championship.
He said: "We are looking forward to returning to action — and the Nurburgring should be a good circuit for our car and play to its strengths.
"We have several new aerodynamic parts which were not used in qualifying and the race, due to the issues that we faced there, along with additional improvements scheduled for the Nurburgring.
"All of this should position us well going into the weekend. But, we have always said we would have a fight on our hands to maintain our excellent start to the season."
Vettel, however, believes that improvements to his Red Bull RB5 car and home advantage will give him an edge even if the tighter corners at the ‘Ring may play to his rivals strengths.
"For me, I’d say it’s like a soccer match when you play on your home ground. You always give 100 percent, but in a home race you’re even more motivated, because at home you feel comfortable.
"Not far from the Nurburgring, in Kerpen, I got a lot of kart experience — which is why I have many friends in this region.
"But during the 90 minutes of the race, I do not think about which country I’m in, because I am concentrated on racing. But before and after, this is special because being at home is the best place to stay."
Red Bull introduced a heavily-revised car at Silverstone where Vettel’s pace and form proved it was much more than a mere facelift – particularly on a sweeping circuit with fast corners and in cold and damp conditions.
This weekend’s expected warmer weather at a track with more slow and medium-speed corners will take away some of the Red Bull advantage and may favour other teams better, including McLaren-Mercedes.
Defending world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton, who has given up in his quest to retain his title, admitted that without any improvements this weekend, he will struggle again.
But, he said, he was still hoping for improvements.
Hamilton said: "While we aren’t expecting any major upgrades for the weekend, I’m still looking forward to the race.
"It’s an honour to be part of the Silver Arrows and, while our results haven’t recently shown it, we’re still pushing incredibly hard and are all hopeful of moving closer to the front before the end of this difficult season."
Team chief Martin Whitmarsh conceded that McLaren may have rushed too much in their efforts to improve the car – and he said they are now taking a more considered approach.
Ferrari, the defending constructors’ champions, also appeared to concede their hopes for glory when Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen said he believed the best they can hope for this weekend may be a podium, but not a victory.
He said: "Realistically this year our objective can’t be a win. We still have to make up ground compared to the leaders as far as the performance is concerned.
"That’s why the team continued to work very hard over the last weeks to bring some new solutions to this race. The track should be better for the F60’s characteristics than Silverstone, but we’ll get a clearer picture during Friday’s free practice sessions.
"To be competitive you need a car with good traction, which is very stable while braking. It’s always difficult making predictions and promising something to the fans, but for us a place on the podium is a good result."
The build-up to the race has been overshadowed by a controversy caused by F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone’s ill-judged remarks about Adolf Hitler. He has apologised, but it remains to be seen if he is welcomed by the promoters and attends.