Thursday April 13th, 2000
Formula One's youngest racing driver Jenson Button says he is expecting rain for his first British Grand Prix later this month and knows he must learn quickly if he is to master the English track.
"I haven't driven much in the wet," the Williams driver admitted ahead of his fourth Formula One race.
"In Formula 3 last year we had one qualifying session in the wet and I was on pole. I have also done quite a bit of wet testing in karting which helped me with the lower formulas... but Formula One is very different," he said.
The 20-year-old Englishman said that many drivers were having trouble controlling their cars in testing at Silverstone, as the International Automobile Federation (FIA) clampdown on teams' electronic systems compounded problems caused by the bad weather.
"The rears are very twitchy in the wet, especially with the new regulations. Being able to control that is very difficult especially on the greasy surface," said the 20-year-old Button, who became the youngest driver to claim a championship point when he finished sixth in the Brazilian Grand Prix last month.
Another new factor for drivers at next week's race is that they will have to control their own speed in the pit-lanes rather than relying on automatic systems.
Button said he and the team had been spending time practising pit-stops to avoid incurring any 10-second penalties for speeding.
"Coming into the pits you don't want to be looking down at your steering wheel all the time with people moving around all over the place. But I'm getting used to it."
Although Silverstone is his home circuit, Button says he does not consider it much of an advantage. "I haven't really done much on the Grand Prix circuit. I had one race there last year in Formula 3 but before that and since I've only been Formula One testing over the past few weeks."
"People think I've been testing and racing on the circuit for the past couple of years but it's not really the case. I know the complex but other than that it's very different."
Asked whether the novelty of being a driver in Formula One had worn off, Button was emphatic. "Definitely not. I have a lot more circuits to learn, a lot more to learn in the pits and about racing against other F1 drivers.
"I'm still looking forward to every race...I just wish they happened more often."
As well as an abundance of enthusiasm, Button also has plenty of ambition. "I want to be world champion and be remembered as one of the best drivers ever. But I think it's going to be a couple of years yet," he said.