Jenson Button brushes off Briatore praise

Abu Dhabi: Jenson Button brushed off rare praise from former boss Flavio Briatore at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just as McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton welcomed surprisingly warm words from one-time foe Fernando Alonso.

The flamboyant Briatore was Button`s boss at Benetton/Renault in 2001 and 2002, and the Italian has made clear subsequently that he did not rate the Briton.

Even during Button`s 2009 championship year with Brawn, Briatore compared him to a concrete bollard.

Briatore told Italian radio last week however that he had been wrong in his assessment and, with the English driver currently second overall and ahead of Hamilton, had not realised quite how good Button was.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Button told British reporters.

"Flavio is very outspoken. I suppose it`s nice for him to realise his wrong decisions and to turn around and say that," he added.

"Up until this year he has always been negative, even when I won the world championship, even last year he said the results I was getting was down to luck. So it`s nice, but unnecessary.

"It really doesn`t mean much to me. I read it and it made me smile, then I forgot it."

Hamilton, fastest in Friday practice at Yas Marina, found himself the subject of positive comments from Alonso to Italian reporters.

The Spaniard, who had replaced Button at Renault in 2003 and was Hamilton`s team mate in a tortured 2007 season at McLaren, hailed the Briton as the only rival he felt could win races even when his car was not the best and also singled him out as a man to watch in winter testing.

"I`m blown away that Fernando is so positive towards me, despite my season and also despite the differences we`ve had," Hamilton told television reporters.

"I think our friendship and the respect we have for each other has got a lot stronger. It`s nice to see that coming out because I have only ever said he is one of the best drivers if not the best driver here.

"It`s nice to know that I`ve got support from some drivers."

Alonso`s comments may not go down so well with his own Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa, who has clashed repeatedly with Hamilton on track this season and is barely on speaking terms with the Briton.

Bureau Report

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