pole key in Spanish GP

Brawn GP Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates winning the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne in this March 29, 2009 file photo. Formula One's governing body hoped radical new rules would shake up the sport this year and, more emphatically than anyone could imagine, it has got what it wished for.  To match feature MOTOR-RACING/CHANGES   REUTERS/Mick Tsikas/Files    (AUSTRALIA SPORT MOTOR RACING)
Brawn GP Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates winning the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne in this March 29, 2009 file photo. Formula One's governing body hoped radical new rules would shake up the sport this year and, more emphatically than anyone could imagine, it has got what it wished for. To match feature MOTOR-RACING/CHANGES REUTERS/Mick Tsikas/Files (AUSTRALIA SPORT MOTOR RACING)

LONDON - Despite three wins in the first four races of the season, Jenson Button will be battling the odds at the Spanish Grand Prix if he starts anywhere other than on pole position on Sunday.

LONDON - Despite three wins in the first four races of the season, Jenson Button will be battling the odds at the Spanish Grand Prix if he starts anywhere other than on pole position on Sunday.

The Circuit de Catalunya is Formula One's most predictable track, one familiar to all from pre-season testing, and for the past eight years the driver starting on pole has ended up the winner.

Only once since the first race there in 1991 has victory gone to a driver not starting on the front row.

Championship leader Button won from fourth place in Bahrain last month, a stirring triumph hailed as his finest yet, but the Briton has yet to finish higher than sixth at the Spanish track.

This year, already turned on its head by Brawn's extraordinary start and the failure of champions Ferrari and McLaren to come up with a competitive car, promises to be different for him.

The Mercedes-powered team were stunningly quick in pre-season testing at the circuit and, even if rivals turn up with heavily revamped cars, Brawn are bringing new developments of their own.

"I know the track inside out," said Button.

"You need to have a car with good downforce for a really quick lap there and we are fortunate that our car behaves so predictably, which enables you to feel completely confident when committing to high-speed corners.

"We know that we have a real fight on our hands from here to maintain our lead in the championship but I am confident that we are well prepared for the challenges ahead."

Ferrari have won the last two Spanish Grands Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen last year and Felipe Massa in 2007, and hope that this year's race marks the real start of their season after their worst opening run on record.

Raikkonen has not won since he stood on top of the Barcelona podium after starting on pole position and setting the fastest race lap.

"A driver never loses the lust for winning and I want to have that feeling again as soon as possible," the Finn said in a blog on the Ferrari website (www.ferrari.com).

"With the new aerodynamic package we'll have more downforce compared to the first four races, but also almost all of the others will show up with some updates. We'll see who has done better work." - Reuters

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