Jenson Button: Ending Sebastian Vettel's qualifying advantage key to title bid

Jenson Button believes that the Formula 1 title battle could be turned on its head if Sebastian Vettel's rivals can knock the German off the front row of the grid

Jenson Button: Ending Sebastian Vettel's qualifying advantage key to title bid

With several drivers, including Red Bull Racing's own Mark Webber, believing that Vettel's period of early-season dominance is now over, Button sees reasons to keep the belief that the title is not yet in the German's hands.

And he thinks the situation could change dramatically if Vettel's record of front row starts this season is brought to an end - because that will then signal that Red Bull Racing no longer has a pure pace advantage. The only time Vettel did not start on the front row this year, in Germany, was the only time this season he did not finish on the podium.

"You know, I think when we see Vettel off the front row, that's a big turning point in the season," explained Button.

"We haven't seen it yet and if we see it here I'll be very impressed, very surprised as well. But in the wet it might be a very different story.

"So, I think as soon as we start beating them in qualifying, I think everything changes, probably. It's a bit harder when you're starting from the second row as we've found out, even when your race pace is very good.

"But Sunday is the most important race and that's where we are definitely better than Saturday, but our pace compared to Red Bull was also very good in the rain."

Although Vettel is 85 points clear of his nearest rival, Webber, in the points standings, Button also reckons that the gap will start closing dramatically as soon as the German starts thinking about the title situation in races.

Speaking about his own title ambitions, being 100 points behind Vettel, Button said: "It's bloody difficult, but it's also possible. If you look at Abu Dhabi last year Vettel was 15 points behind [Fernando] Alonso and Alonso lost 15 points and lost the championship, so it is possible, definitely. If he starts thinking about the championship now, I think we can start taking a lot of points off him."

And although Vettel says that he is not worried by the fact that he has not won for three races, Button thinks the situation is a bit different in reality.

"He hasn't won for three races, which is quite a long time and when you win so many races to suddenly not win for three, it's going to hurt," he explained. "I know what it feels like, so if he doesn't win here, again, it's like 'Wow, I've got a big lead but I want to win a race'. It's quite a tough situation, and hopefully it will be tough for him."

Looking at the title contenders, Button believes that McLaren has a good opportunity because it has two competitive drivers able to take decent points off Vettel if their car is good enough.

"I think at Red Bull, Mark's not going to move over for Sebastian even if they tell him to and we've seen if he's told to stay behind him he won't, he'll try and overtake him, which is good," he said.

"It's the most difficult championship for Mark, because he's quite a long way behind Sebastian. And if the car's quick, Mark's quick but also Sebastian is going to be quite quick.

"We have a much bigger advantage because if our car's quick, we're quick and it doesn't necessarily mean that Vettel's going to be quick. And there are two of us, which helps us in one way because we can take more points off of Vettel.

"But it also hinders us in another way because if we keep switching first and second position, which we are at the moment, it hurts us. But that's racing. The championship's not between 12 drivers, it's between 24."

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