McLaren’s Jenson Button dismissed, with a broad smile and theatrical nod of the head, Red Bull rival Mark Webber’s chances of Korean Grand Prix victory on Saturday.
Australian Webber will line up on pole position on Sunday with team mate and double Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel alongside.
Vettel is four points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with five races remaining and 56 ahead of Webber.
Asked whether he expected Webber to ‘ride shotgun’ for the German, allowing Vettel to pass and build up an advantage while keeping others behind him, McLaren team principal Martin he Whitmarsh said doubted it.
“I don’t think he will, do you?”, said Whitmarsh. Button, sitting on a stool alongside, nodded vigorously to the assembled reporters.
“I do,” said the driver.
“Well, I don’t think he will willingly,” added Whitmarsh.
McLaren have Lewis Hamilton, fourth in the standings and 42 points behind Alonso, third on the starting grid and directly behind Webber.
With Vettel on the ‘dirty’ side of the track, and Webber not always the quickest driver off the grid, Hamilton will be looking to strike early.
So-called ‘team orders’ are legal in Formula One but Red Bull have so far resisted imposing them, or not had any need to.
Button will have to play a more strategic race after qualifying 11th at a track where overtaking has not been straightforward in the past although the ‘DRS Zone’ where the rear wing can be manually operated for more straight line speed has been extended in distance.
“As soon as the field spreads out, I think you’ll see more overtaking than in previous years,” said Button. “There’s quite a lot of degradation with the tyres so I think people will be doing different strategies.
“I’m hoping there’s going to be a lot of fighting and overtaking.”