Sepang heat will not put the brake on Button
SEPANG, Malaysia, Mar 17 (Reuters) Jenson Button is quietly confident Honda can give him the car to beat Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old Briton will be starting his 102nd Formula One race this weekend and success-starved compatriots have not let him forget that he has yet to stand on the top step of the podium.
Button was fourth last week at the season-opener in Bahrain, a result he thought was creditable after he went from third on the grid to ninth at the first corner because of a clutch problem.
There have been problems this week, he said, but he was confident they will be sorted out.
''We had some brake issues in practice in Bahrain but in the race my braking was very good, I could brake later than most people,'' he said.
''Here we're suffering a bit with rear locking and it's costing us a fair bit of time and confidence in braking,'' he added.
''It's just finding the correct set-up for these conditions, it's very hot here and maybe we need to go in a different direction to testing in the winter.'' ''We know that it's a quick car and I'm sure we can sort it out and be quick tomorrow,'' he said.
''I think this is going to be a good one for us when we get the set-up right and 'good' now means beating Renault.'' With the rules stipulating that engines must last for two races in a row, Button sat out the first of today's practice sessions and drove just 12 laps in the second.
He was happy to let test driver Anthony Davidson, who span on one of his 39 laps but still set the best time of the day in the scorching heat at Sepang, gather the necessary data.
''It went reasonably well apart from Anthony's little spin, we were lucky enough to get the car back before the end of the session so he could go and do a couple more runs and apart from that everything went smoothly,'' said Button.
''We've got a lot of data, a lot more than most teams,'' he added.
After a season of disappointment in 2005, Honda produced some impressive times in winter testing and Alonso said they were one of four teams -- with Renault, McLaren and Ferrari -- who will be challenging for wins this year.
REUTERS DH PM1712