Button: BAR Should Challenge for Third Next Year

BAR Honda driver Jenson Button said his team should be fighting for a third place in the Constructors' Championship next year and admitted he looked forward to being the team's leading driver, now that Canadian Jacques Villeneuve has been replaced.

Button: BAR Should Challenge for Third Next Year

BAR Honda driver Jenson Button said his team should be fighting for a third place in the Constructors' Championship next year and admitted he looked forward to being the team's leading driver, now that Canadian Jacques Villeneuve has been replaced.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Tribe Art tour in Milan, Italy, Button told Gazzetta della Sport: "The departure of Villeneuve is a loss of experience for the team, but for me it is a great chance and I'm thrilled at the thought that next year my opinion will be the most important one. This will give me more responsibilities, but it is very exciting."

Villeneuve was told by team principal David Richards that he will be replaced with Takuma Sato in 2004. Subsequently, the Canadian decided not to race at the 2003 season ending Grand Prix in Japan. The Grand Prix proved to be the team's most successful race, with both Sato and Button scoring points for the team and securing the fifth place in the Constructors' Championship.

However, Button says fifth place is not enough and that he believes the team can challenge for higher than that next year.

"I think we ended the season where we expected to be," Button said. "We expected to be fifth in the Championship, but we expected to be a lot closer to the fourth team, Renault, so I think we lacked a bit of consistency throughout the season and a little bit of reliability. But I think we worked very well as a team, which is very, very important for the future - that's something you can't just make happen, it has to happen naturally and I think that has. We just got to work on reliability and then we can work on making the car much stronger for next year.

"We don't know where the other teams are going to be, but as a team I think we need to improve on every area and I think that we have already. I think we want to be challenging for third in the Championship - that is an aim for us. We need to be consistently in the points - and I don't mean seventh and eighths - we need to be consistently scoring strong points."

Button also added that Ferrari, World Champions last year, will likely struggle next year and may not necessarily be able to grab another title. "Ferrari won the Championship, but it was very very close," he said. "All season there were different people winning, it was a great season for spectators.

"The next year I think it's going to be even more difficult for Ferrari. BMW Willams are moving forward another step, and they are all growing and Ferrari has been there for a while now. It seems that other teams are catching up and maybe overtaking already, so it's gonna be a difficult season for them, and hopefully we can even challenge them on certain races."

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