Despite indicating after his twelfth-placed finish the Korean Grand Prix that his championship defence aspirations were “mathematically” over – and amidst suggestions from team boss Martin Whitmarsh that the Briton would offer his assistance “voluntarily” to team-mate Lewis Hamilton – it seems that Jenson Button is not yet ready to entirely abandon his championship hopes.
The 2009 champion now lies 42 points off Fernando Alonso’s new championship lead and 21 points behind his team-mate. And with two rounds offering a maximum haul of 50 points, it would need a miracle for Button to take back-to-back crowns.
Immediately after a disappointing race, Button admitted to that he was “not really” able to defend his championship from his current position.
However, he later told the BBC that his comments had been uttered “in the heat of the moment”, and added his confidence that he “won’t be asked” to defer to the better-placed Hamilton.
“I don’t stand by that [statement] now,” he added. “You don’t win world championships by conceding defeat before it is all over. You have seen today how things can change.”
However, if he was mathematically out of contention, then button admitted: “Then, yes, I would help Lewis.”
This is in direct conflict with Whitmarsh’s interpretation of events, with the team boss saying he believes Button would “voluntarily” back Hamilton to mount a last-ditch tilt at the Drivers’ Championship.
“For us, the strategy is clear,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “We don’t really have to say anything to our drivers.
“Jenson will offer his help to Hamilton voluntarily, because he knows that we have treated him fairly throughout the year. And because he knows that he will win now only with a miracle,” he added.
“We’re going away still very much in contention with Lewis and two really interesting races ahead … it’s still wide open.”
One suspects there may be a rather heated discussion back at the team’s Woking HQ in the next few days…
[Original image via LAT]