Thursday June 21st, 2001
Briton Jenson Button will get faster as he gets more familiar with the people around him at Benetton, the Formula One team's director of engineering Pat Symonds says.
"He is a bit slower than Giancarlo (Fisichella), it's quite small amounts," said Symonds of the difference between the team's two drivers. "I think that people often underestimate the value of continuity.
"Giancarlo's been with us a few years now, we know exactly how he thinks, we know what he likes. He can relate to his engineers extremely well. This is something that comes with continuity. Jenson is new to the team, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very, very rapid driver and I think he can do much better than we are allowing him to do at the moment.
"But we are still learning about him and what he likes, he is still learning about the car and how to relate to his engineers. I really think it comes down to continuity and very little else."
Fisichella has scored his team's only point of the season so far, a surprise sixth place in Brazil, in an uncompetitive and experimental Renault-powered car.
Button, the most impressive newcomer of last season in his debut year with Williams before being loaned to Benetton, has frequently found himself battling with the Minardis and has been outqualified by Fisichella seven times in eight races.
The Briton, who in 2000 became the youngest points scorer in Formula One history and qualified third at the demanding Spa track, has started on the back row of the grid three times. Symonds said Benetton hoped for significant improvements to the engine at the next race in France.
"Certainly at Magny-Cours we have got some developments on the engine that have come together in quite a nice little package," he said. "Let's say we are hoping for a reasonable improvement for the next race."