Jenson Button is adamant he can still retain his World Championship crown this year despite the setback caused by his crash with Sebastian Vettel in Belgium last weekend.
The McLaren driver slipped to 35 points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton after the Spa event, when Vettel crashed him out of the race after making an error during their battle for second place. Although that means Button now needs a dose of good luck to get himself back in the title hunt, he said on Thursday that he still believed he could come out on top at the end of the season.
When asked whether he felt his title chances were now over, Button said: "Definitely not. I was very dejected after the race and was very down, but in reality 35 points is not that much.
"If you look in the old money of last year's points system, it equates to 14 points – which is not a lot of points. It is a win and a fifth place, so it is all still to play for and, as it heats up in the last six races, there is going to be a lot more action. It will be about staying out of trouble and every race I go to I have to be fighting for victory."
Button said he had no doubts that McLaren would maintain equal support for both its drivers – as he ruled out the scenario of the team throwing all its weight behind Hamilton.
"No, we won't," he said about the idea of McLaren imposing a number one. "It's a very fair team; we've seen that in the past. And that's why I wanted to join this team.
"I've got a great teammate in Lewis, we've both won World Championships in the past, and the great thing is we are given equal equipment. It is exactly what it should be and that is the way you want to win a championship."
He added: "I'm still fighting for the title and to keep the World Championship trophy in my living room"
Button has also revealed that Vettel telephoned him on Sunday night in Belgium to apologize for the crash that dented both their title challenges.
"Seb called me after the race in the evening to apologize for the accident he caused, which was good, but it doesn't give me my points back," he said. "He didn't do it on purpose. It was definitely a mistake, but I was the person who paid the price. That is the pity for me. But we've got to put that behind us and look forward now."
In a separate interview published on his own website on Thursday, Button dismissed suggestions from Red Bull Racing that he had contributed to the accident by braking earlier than expected.
"After the race, I actually checked the data with my race engineer, and it shows that I braked at exactly the same point on the lap before the collision," said Button. "We even looked at the braking profile, and that also showed that, at the point of impact – about 1.5sec after I'd started applying the brakes – I'd traveled exactly the same distance on both laps. So to suggest I'd braked earlier wouldn't be accurate."