| 13.4°C Dublin

Button still in the title race: Horner

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner (pictured) lent support to Jenson Button last night by refusing to dismiss the Briton's Formula One title chances despite an 88-point gap between him and Ferrari's leader, Fernando Alonso.

Button is 41 points adrift of his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton with nine races remaining.

The 2009 world champion has played down the gap by pointing out that Hamilton still thinks he has a chance of beating Alonso.

"The points can change around pretty quickly," said Horner, whose Australian driver Mark Webber is second overall and 40 points adrift of Alonso with double champion Sebastian Vettel two further back in third place.

"I know Jenson's some way behind at the moment but if he puts a run together I think it would be premature to discount him," added Horner.


The season started with seven different winners in seven races, with Button winning the first in Australia, and has stood out for unpredictable and surprising results. Alonso has said he does not have the fastest car of the leading teams, but that assertion was too much for Horner to swallow.

"I'm not sure he's right there," he smiled. "He's won more races than any other driver this year, scored more points and finished all the races."

Of the four front-running teams, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus all have one driver well clear of his team-mate in the standings -- with Alonso 139 clear of Felipe Massa -- while Red Bull's pair are divided by just two points.

That could put Red Bull at a disadvantage if others invoke 'team orders'. Horner added: "Both drivers are fully in the race for the championship and they both know they need each other to take points off Fernando."

Heavy rain over the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium ruined proceedings on Formula One's return after a near five-week break, with drivers unable to get much practice in.