RED BULL RACING BOSS Christian Horner has warned Jenson Button he will need to reverse his recent run of bad form if he hopes to claim the World Championship.
After dominating the opening months of the championship with six wins in seven races, Button?s charge towards the title has stalled as Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari display dramatic improvements in pace.
Button?s downturn has allowed teammate Rubens Barrichello to close the gap in the championship standings to 16 points, while Sebastian Vettel sits three points further back.
Horner told Autosport: ?Rubens has taken 10 points out of him in the last two races and Sebastian six points here, and he's not had a good weekend since Istanbul in early June.
"He can't continue to have race weekends like he's had without being punished points wise in the next couple of events.
"It's still a four-horse race between now and the end of the championship."
Button, who has scored just 11 points in the last five races, conceded he needs to return to winning form, stating he doesn?t want to limp to the crown.
?All I need to do is finish fourth or fifth, but that's not what I want to do. I want to win races,? he said.
"You've got say 'think about the championship', but I still want to win races. It's what I'm here to do and it's what I love doing, competing at the front.?
Successive non-point scoring finishes has relegated Australian Mark Webber to fourth only weeks after the 32-year-old was considered Button?s sternest rival for the world title.
However, Horner confirmed Red Bull would not grant either driver number one status until the other was mathematically out of title calculations.
?It's all left to play for, and I think there's going to be another twist in the championship between now and the end of the year.
"Sebastian has moved to within 19 points, and although Mark didn't score, both still have a real chance of overhauling over him.
"With one-and-a-half-points between the drivers it would be wrong at this stage to back one over the other. We'll continue to do what we've done all year and support both of them with equal priority."