After two podium finishes in the first three races of 2004, BAR could be forgiven for enjoying the rewards of the hard work the team put in over the winter. But despite Jenson Button's third places in Malaysia and Bahrain, team principal David ...
After two podium finishes in the first three races of 2004, BAR could be forgiven for enjoying the rewards of the hard work the team put in over the winter. But despite Jenson Button's third places in Malaysia and Bahrain, team principal David Richards is grimly determined to remind everyone that a couple of good results does not put BAR at the top of the Formula One game.
"Anyone who thinks we're near the summit of this sport is deluding themselves and needs to wake up," Richards told the UK's Sunday Times. "A couple of podium finishes is encouraging, but when a team has been in existence for six years without a sniff of a win, any crumbs from the table are going to be greeted with joy. We have a long way to go."
Some had questioned Button's ability to be a team leader after the departure of Jacques Villeneuve. The Englishman is still young and critics doubted his "too nice" personality, but Richards was sure of Button right from the start. "I never regarded the signing of Jenson as a gamble, because I've known him since he was a boy and know something about his character as well as his talent," he said.
"He's pleasant to everybody because that's his nature and he's been brought up to be polite, but I see him in meetings, and there's plenty of steel. When people say he's too nice to be world champion or not aggressive enough, they 're wrong. He dealt pretty comprehensively with Jacques last year."
For the moment it seems that no team is up to the standard of Ferrari and Richards has no false hopes that BAR will be a champion team even next season. But the Scuderia's reign will come to an end one day and Richards believes BAR could be ready to step in when the time comes.
"There are people who think it will all come good early next year, but it won't," he predicted. "The momentum is there, but the higher we go, the more effort we have to put in for a smaller improvement. But while Ferrari's commitment and effort is massive, they won't go on forever. The day is coming when another team picks up the mantle, probably a young team that has taken a different approach -- like us. And that day isn't so far away."