London. Jenson Button looked at the results sheet after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix and put his finger on the space where the points from the remaining 13 races had yet to be entered.

“Look at this gap we haven’t done yet. There have only been six, there’s so much that can happen still,” the McLaren driver said, trying to remain optimistic even as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel celebrated his fifth victory in six races this season.

From his own experience, Button knew only too well the extent of the task facing anyone hoping to take the Formula One title off the 23-year-old German.

In 2009, the Briton also won five out of the first six with Brawn GP and went on to take the title despite not standing on the top step of the podium again that season.

The chances of Vettel failing to win again are remote in the extreme. Brawn lacked resources to develop its car in 2009, which allowed rivals to catch up, but Red Bull will not have that problem. Designer Adrian Newey will be bringing updates to the car for as long as he has to.

“They’ve had a very quick car for two years now, so it’s difficult,” recognized Button, who has been on the podium three times this season yet is now 67 points off the lead. “But still you never know what’s going to happen.

“We could all just give up now and not bother with it, or we could fight until the end, which is what we’re going to do.”

The end could come sooner rather than later, a far cry from last year where four drivers went into the last race with a mathematical chance.

Vettel has actually won eight of his last 10 races dating back to last year and started five of this year’s six on pole position.

He is 58 points clear of his closest rival and the only man to beat him so far this season, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Drivers have won five races or more in a season and not taken the title — it happened with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (five) last year — but not after such a one-sided start to the campaign.

Hamilton won in China with a slower car but better strategy, while Alonso came close in Monaco and might have forced his way past had Vettel not been able to change tires when the race was halted with six laps to go.

Alonso, a double world champion with Renault, had no illusions about his prospects with a 74-point gap to make up in that block of empty spaces highlighted by Button.

“We need to win three races and he mustn’t score,” the Spaniard said of the immediate task. “Well, I think at the moment it’s not possible. It’s difficult.”



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