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Silverstone podium still a step too far for Button

McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain gestures before the third practice session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix May 25, 2013. REU
McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain gestures before the third practice session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix May 25, 2013. REU

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Jenson Button could not wait to get out of his mishandling McLaren after a miserable afternoon in Canada and now, less than two weeks later, he is impatient to step back in.

British fans preparing for their annual home Grand Prix pilgrimage to Silverstone next week should not get their hopes up, however.

Button, the 2009 world champion with Brawn GP, has never stood on the Formula One podium at his home circuit and does not expect to end the jinx this time either in what has been a shocking season for McLaren.

The 33-year-old - winner of last season's Brazilian season-ender - has not finished higher than fifth in seven races but even so he is still excited to be back on home soil.

"I love racing, I love competing and I love jumping in an F1 car," he told British reporters on a midweek visit to Silverstone.

"It was more the bouncing around at the last race," he added of his comments in Montreal about wanting to be out of the car.

"It was painful, rather than anything else. It was not the (race) position I was in, it was the constant (jolting) all the way down the straight.

"Here that shouldn't be as much of a problem, we've got things that can help that."

NO POINTS

Button and Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, who both started the year talking of fighting for wins and titles, failed to score in Canada, ending the team's 64-race run in the points with McLaren's first blank since 2009.

Force India, with a McLaren gearbox and the same Mercedes engine but a fraction of the budget, are fifth overall and 14 points clear of the multiple title winners who are sixth with a measly 37 points from seven races.

If Montreal was McLaren's worst race in years, Button expressed the hope that things would get better.

"It isn't just me trying to be positive but I think we will be more competitive here than the last couple of races, the type of high-speed circuit that it is," he said.

"We are developing the car at the factory which is great. But we're still a long way behind...we've got to make sure we maximize everything. When you do that and you get a fifth place, you're pretty happy about it.

"You still want to win...but when you think you've got everything out of it and you couldn't have done any more, it puts a smile on your face. I think that's important."

The hopes may be mainly focused on next year, when a new V6 engine comes into play, but the Briton has not entirely written off 2013 however painful it may be.

"This has been a difficult year for us, but we still hope to be fighting at the end of the year for race wins," he said.

"Definitely next year we will start the season looking to win the world championship. And that includes winning the British Grand Prix.

"We did take a gamble maybe with the direction of the car, it hasn't worked for us this year. But we are still a great team and we will fight back and we will win races again."

Button said he would do his best to entertain a loyal crowd whose hopes of a home winner rest mainly on his former team mate Lewis Hamilton, now at Mercedes.

Recalling the excitement of boyhood visits to Silverstone, experiencing the sight and sound and smell of Formula One cars for the first time, Button hoped to give something back.

"I think when we drive out onto the circuit on Friday, it doesn't matter where we finish the grand prix or where we think we're going to finish, the British fans are going to be excited about McLaren driving out onto the circuit," he said.

"I'm a fan of motorsport just like anyone else. So I'm really looking forward to that moment and, hopefully, from then on we have a positive weekend."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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