As the Honda Formula One team unveils its new car, Jenson Button, one-time golden boy of British racing, gives the team his full vote of confidence after warning last year that he might leave if they did not improve.
Jenson Button has given his Honda Formula One team a full vote of confidence after
warning last year that he might leave if they showed no signs of improvement.
"I think we have the facilities here to be a front-running team, I think we have the personnel now and it's just a matter of time," the Briton told reporters at the launch of the new RA108 car on Tuesday.
"I am the happiest I have probably been in this team ... I couldn't be happier," he said.
"It was never an option to not be here. I knew that Honda wouldn't just sit around in the position we were in last season. I knew that something would change."
Button scored all of Honda's meagre haul of six points in a dismal 2007 championship, after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006, and the Japanese team have undergone a major restructuring since then.
Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has joined as team boss, leading a list of other high-profile signings, and Honda have set their sights on getting back among the race winners in 2009.
The new car starts that process, presented by the team as a complete break from what went before.
"I personally believe that we have a very strong team and that every individual really believes in themselves and the people they are working with," said Button.
"I feel the team is at the strongest it has been, personnel-wise.
"This year is obviously important and we want to do the best job we can and get the most points we can ... you can't rule out 2008 but there is a lot changing in 2009," added Button.
"When I get the car, I want to be ready to be challenging for the world championship and that could be in 2009. If not, then it could be the following year.
"You are going to write Jenson is fighting for the world championship in 2009 with Lewis Hamilton," added the 28-year-old, whose compatriot won four races for McLaren in an astonishing debut season in 2007.
"I hope so. That has got to be the aim.
"It's 14 months down the line and you would hope to be in a position to be challenging at the front, definitely. But there's a long way before that. It's no use thinking that far in advance."
Button said he was looking forward to the season "massively more" than in 2007 but ruled out any quick return to the top of the podium.
"If you look at where we were last year, if we win a race we deserve a very, very big trophy this season," he said.
"I'll only be disappointed if we are not improving from the first race to the end."
Date created : 2008-01-30