Mar.14 (GMM/ Jenson Button is an outright favourite for the 2012 title, according to former F1 driver Mika Salo.

The Finn, Salo, will be a regular in the paddock this season with the MTV3 broadcaster, except for this weekend’s season opener for which he is detained to test last year’s Ferrari at Suzuka.

Asked however in a pre-season interview to name some likely challengers to Sebastian Vettel’s crown, the 45-year-old answered: “Jenson Button is not necessarily the quickest driver, but he is able to collect points consistently.

“I would not previously have put him as a favourite, but when Hamilton had his personal problems, Button was immediately on the case.”

Behind Vettel and Button, Salo predicts Hamilton and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to be on the favourites’ heels.

“It will depend on Hamilton, and whether or not he splits with his girlfriend every other weekend.

“Nico will be strong, if he has a good car. Webber, I think, is a bit past it, especially if Red Bull is no longer as dominant as they have been,” he added.