Button can capture the spirit of 2009 to reclaim crown, says BBC's new F1 presenter Suzi Perry
15:36 GMT, 12 March 2013
18:16 GMT, 12 March 2013
Suzi Perry, the new female face of the BBC’s Formula One coverage, believes Jenson Button can repeat the heroics of 2009 to land this season’s coveted crown.
Speaking to Top Gear magazine Perry – who spent 10 years covering MotoGP for the Beeb – expresses doubt over Lewis Hamilton’s chances of landing his second title in his first year after switching to Mercedes.
And she also reveals how James Hunt first attracted her to the sport.
In with a shout: Perry believes Button, in his McLaren above, can reclaim the crown he won in 2009
Driving seat: Perry (right) is the face of the BBC's F1 coverage after taking charge of the MotoGP for ten years
The season curtain raiser in Australia takes place in five days’ time and Perry believes the changes to the tyres this year could see Button land his second championship, but there are number of other, less-fancied, challengers in the frame.
She said: ‘They’re quite a young crop really, when you think that Jenson’s now the most experienced driver on the grid.
'Then you look at the changes in tyre tech, and you’d have to say it suits Jenson, with the softer compounds and wider window of opportunity.
Long shot: Perry feels Lewis Hamilton's switch to Mercedes may prove a stumbling block
'Isn’t this the best opportunity for him to go out there and singing ‘We Are the Champions’ like he did in 2009
‘I’ve met the Williams drivers, and it was fascinating looking at their body language. But, Bottas… hmm, there’s something about him.
'He’s got this real-life Action Man thing going on, which is quite cool, something steely. Definitely a dark horse.
‘He also has a lot of fans already, and his girlfriend’s an Olympic swimmer – together they’re like Posh ’n’ Becks.
She added: ‘When I interviewed him the other day, he basically said they’re working towards a long-term goal. Put yourself in his shoes: you’ve come through McLaren since karting days, and that’s all you’ve known.
'It was purely that existence, with so many strong characters around him, so it’s no wonder he wanted to spread his wings. In his own words, he wanted to grow.
‘I think realistically there’s going to be a major shock if he challenges for the title this year, but there could be race wins. Why not’
She added: ‘As a kid, I remember always having F1 on the telly, going right back to James Hunt – I was six when he won the world championship.
'I remember it quite clearly – my dad was really into it, and my mum probably fancied Hunt.
‘Mind you, fair play, he was pretty handsome. When I was in my twenties, I took my bike licence and had a lot of friends who were bikers, so we used to ride together. Then I started covering MotoGP.'
Handsome: Perry remembers James Hunt, pictured in 1976, as the reason she became interested in motor-racing
The full interview appears in the latest issue of BBC Top Gear magazine, on sale now.