Jenson Button believes Friday could be a crucial day for his F1 World Championship ambitions, with his Brawn team likely to find out if its tire warm-up problems are now gone for good.
After struggling for a series of races to match the pace of rival Red Bull, Brawn returned to the top at the European Grand Prix last weekend, when Rubens Barrichello scored his first win of the season. Although Button finished just seventh, the team was optimistic that it has now put its problems to warm up the tires behind and that is now back to the form that allowed Button to win six of the first seven races of the season.
The weather at Valencia favored the team, however, with very high temperatures all weekend. With cooler weather expected at Spa this weekend, Button reckons tomorrow's practice will be crucial to see if his team is set to continue with its competitive form.
"As a team, it's a really important day for us," Button told reporters at Spa. "It's warm today, but I don't think it's going to be as warm this weekend, about 66 to 68 degrees, which should be OK.
"This circuit has some high-speed corners and heavy braking, which is good for tire temperature, some aggressive asphalt, which is good. I think we know some of the reasons why we can't get tire temp at cold circuits, and hopefully we've solved those issues, although we won't know until we drive the car tomorrow.
"So, it is an important day, to know if we can challenge the Red Bulls on a circuit like this, and if we can then I think they are in a difficult position. I don't think it's us so much. They didn't have a very good weekend last weekend, they didn't get any points as a team – we haven't been in that situation this year. I'm sure they come here more positive than the last race, but I'm sure they arrive here thinking it's not going to be exactly like Silverstone. There's going to be a lot more competition for them. It's not going to be a walk in the park."
Button said after the European Grand Prix that he needed to make sure he is more aggressive if he is to clinch the title this year. But the Briton denied he was being conservative, and claimed he is just trying to avoid doing silly things.
"I don't have a conservative approach, that's the thing," he said. "If you look at the last four races, the first three of those four, our car was not as competitive as we would have hoped and when I was winning races. So if you get rid of them and you look at the last one, it wasn't a good race weekend for me, initially because I didn't qualify well. Then if you look at the race, if I'd stayed on the inside of Vettel I would have broken my front wing and wiped him out as well.
"So it's not a conservative approach, it's about not being stupid. There was no other way. Maybe I think we need to do something with the strategy that does not put me in a position around cars that think I'm being conservative, that are fighting me for the championship, and they have to be very aggressive to do so."
Button also said he is not feeling any extra pressure despite his lack of results in the last few races, as he is sure he is in the best possible position.
"I know how I feel. It was a frustrating weekend in a way because if certain things had gone slightly different we would have a great weekend. I would say it's the first bad weekend I've had this season. But I am in the best position of the four front-runners, so I am not feeling any pressure," added Button, 18 points ahead of Barrichello with six races to go.