Herbert says Button has the potential to be a world champion

BRITON Johnny Herbert said he believes compatriot Jenson Button has the potential to be a Formula One World Champion as Button prepares to leave BMW-Williams for the Renault-owned Benetton team.

Jaguar driver Herbert, who will bow out of Grand Prix racing in Malaysia this weekend after 12 years, predicted that 20-year-old Button has what it takes to reach the top.

"He has impressed a lot of people - well, everybody - which in one respect is very good for British motorsport," said Herbert. "As long as everything goes well for him at Benetton next year then he looks set to be a world champion.

"He's still got a bit to learn, but he has shown how determined he can be. The best thing about Jenson is that he is very obviously enjoying it. We haven't seen anything like that for a long time."

Herbert is adamant that Button will benefit from his two-year loan move to the Enstone-based team for whom he finished fourth on his 1989 F1 debut only to be sacked and won two Grands Prix on his 1995 return, only to be sacked again.

The 36-year-old believes that the unpredictable, and often outspoken, Benetton team-boss Flavio Briatore will be of a particular help to Button.

He added: "It's a good thing for a driver like Jenson to have this experience at such a young age. It is important to have the perspective of a different team. Good or bad, though, it's best to have that experience when you're still young, because you learn from them.

"We know how Flavio can be, but in respect of Jenson it don't think it will be a bad thing. It won't do him any harm at all. In fact I think it will make him stronger."

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