Red Bull fear Button more than Lewis

RED BULL chief Christian Horner expects Englishman Jenson Button to pose the biggest threat to his team’s dominance in the coming season.

Horner (inset) rates 2009 world champion Button sterner competition than his McLaren team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, who won the title in 2008.

Red Bull and No1 driver Sebastian Vettel are looking to make it three constructors’ and drivers’ championships in a row when the season starts in Australia next week.

“Both Lewis and Jenson are massively talented drivers,” said Horner. “Jenson had a phenomenal season last year, he seemed to get the team around him and strung a set of results together that was very impressive. If he can carry that form forward then he can be a real contender. Lewis is a hugely talented individual. [He had] a difficult season last year but he’ll be looking to bounce back.”

Pushed on which driver was the biggest threat to Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber, Horner said: “Probably Jenson.”

McLaren aside, Horner expects improvements from Mercedes and Ferrari, despite teething problems in pre-season testing. Further spice is added by the return of another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, following a two-year absence, but Horner insists Vettel, 24, is still hungry and focused.

“One of Sebastian’s assets is his mind strength. Last year he made very few mistakes. His confidence has grown, his experience has grown,” he said. “Sebastian really enjoys the history and what he’s achieved at a really young age. He doesn’t underestimate our competitors.”

CALENDAR | 2012 FORMULA ONE SEASON

Australia Melbourne, 16-18 Mar
Malaysia Sepang, 23-25 Mar
China Shanghai, 13-15 Apr
Bahrain Sakhir, 20-22 Apr
Spain Montmelo, 11-13 May
Monaco Monte Carlo, 25-27 May
Canada Montreal, 8-10 Jun
Europe Valencia, 22-14 Jun
Britain Silverstone, 6-8 Jul
Germany Hockenheim, 20-22 Jul
Hungary Hungaroring, 27-29 Jul
Belgium Spa, 31 Aug-2 Sep
Italy Monza, 7-9 Sep
Singapore 21-23 Sep
Japan Suzuka, 5-7 Oct
Korea Yeongam, 12-14 Oct
India New Delhi, 26-28 Oct
Abu Dhabi Yas Marina, 2-4 Nov
United States Austin, 16-18 Nov
Brazil Interlagos, 23-25 Nov