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Fry defends 'impeccable' Button

Honda Racing F1 CEO Nick Fry has dismissed Nigel Mansell's assessment of Jenson Button and said the young driver has been behaving impeccably both publicly and privately.

Former Formula One champion Mansell made harsh statements about his fellow countryman earlier today, telling the BBC Button was past his prime and had missed the opportunity to succeed in Formula One.

"He's got a great reputation for partying and that's taken the edge off it," Mansell said. "He's a typical example of too much, too soon."

Speaking to autosport.com, Fry rejected these claims, saying Mansell's assessment of Button was off the mark - and out of date.

"As far as we are concerned, Jenson has demonstrated outstanding professionalism and maturity in what has been a difficult time for the team," the Honda team boss said today.

"He has tried to help the team go forward, and in many ways his efforts have been above and beyond what is expected of Formula One drivers.

"I would refute everything Nigel has said, and particularly I think his comments about Jenson's reputation for partying are about five years out of date.

"People forget that Jenson made his F1 debut at the age of 20 - but he's now 27. I've worked with him now for five years, and his increasing maturing and the way he changed his lifestyle is extremely noticeable."

Fry said Button's maturity this year and his devotion to the team has not gone unnoticed by others in the paddock as well.

"Jenson's behaviour has been noticed and admired by several team principals," Fry explained. "Some of them have told me they believe his behaviour has been absolutely impeccable.

"It's not only publicly, but also in private as well that he continues to be a good and loyal team member and say and do the right things."

Fry further rebutted Mansell's suggestions that Button would not have the opportunity to succeed in Formula One again.

"I have absolutely no doubt that given the right car, Jenson can win races and the world championship," Fry said.

"I would point to his drive at the beginning of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, where Jenson overtook almost the entire field in a car that is not particularly good."

Asked if the emergence of fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton as the new star of the British media had compounded Button's situation this year, Fry replied: "At the beginning of the year, I have no doubt this was slightly difficult for Jenson, but he took it in his stride and was determined to do well.

"I would also add that the professional parts of the media have continued to be very supportive of Jenson and wanted to talk about the good things he's been doing. People recognise he's a driver whose time is yet to come.

"If we had a situation where Jenson would be able to compete with Lewis, I'm sure we would all be, certainly in the UK, very happy."

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