Formula One: Red Bull's F1 charge jolts Button ahead of grand prix

JENSON BUTTON fears Red Bull may have "stolen a march" on McLaren this season that has left his hopes of back-to-back world titles hanging in the balance.

Button goes into Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix just 14 points adrift of championship leader Mark Webber, but aware McLaren are currently playing catch-up with Red Bull in terms of performance.

In particular, McLaren suffered a chastening experience in the last race in Hungary just under four weeks ago when they were trounced by their title rivals. McLaren's ambitions, and those of Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton, would now appear to rest on the next two races in Spa this weekend and the Italian Grand Prix on 12 September .

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Failure to capitalise on their own performance advantage as both are low downforce circuits that should play to McLaren's strengths, and the Woking-based marque can likely forget any hopes of glory.

"Red Bull have stolen a march massively, and sometimes it can take a long time to catch up, especially when they have that much in hand around a circuit like Hungary," said Button.

"It's very tricky and it does take a lot of time especially at this point in the season when everyone is so reliable. You're losing a lot of points if you don't have the parts."

The parts that Button is specifically referring to regard their front wing and floor, which would appear to be working in tandem.

The Red Bull front wing flexes far greater than the regulations allow, so increasing the level of downforce and with it speed.

Although the FIA has ramped up its tests for this race regarding front wing flexibility, the team are far from concerned. That has prompted the FIA to introduce further tests ahead of the Italian Grand Prix to look at the floor as it is believed that is somehow aiding the front wing. Hinting at Red Bull's advantage, Button added: "Webber said in an interview a couple of weeks back that if you have a very special device on the car, people should have to try and build their own. I didn't know they had a device on the car, but there you go."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has again suggested it is jealousy from other teams that has led to their complaints and the clampdown from the FIA. "We've been questioned so many times this year, whether it be ride-height systems, suspension, blown diffusers," said Horner. "It is understandable, when the car has been as quick as it has, especially in Budapest."