Somewhere expensive, Thursday: Jenson Button’s hopes of recapturing the hearts and minds of British Formula One fans has taken a further blow today with the news that high-profile bookmakers William Hill have lengthened the odds on the former Honda driver clinching the world driver’s championship this year.

Following days of silence over whether a buyer will be found for Button’s team after the Japanese manufacturer announced its immediate withdrawal from F1, William Hill have altered their payout should the Briton win the world championship. Now a stake of £1 would yield a further £5,000 if Button unexpectedly triumphs this year, which puts him behind Giancarlo Fisichella (200-1), Yuji Ide (1000-1) and Robert Mugabe (2500-1) in the bookmakers’ standings this year.

Robert Mugabe
Speedy: Robert Mugabe

Though the 84-year-old Zimbabwean dictator apparently has no plans to take a seat in Formula One, and is unlikely to meet with much success in any case as all the top drives for 2009 are already taken, several parties have already commented that he is more likely than Button to win the championship – although the possibility of either doing so is extremely remote.

It has already been speculated by the less reliable F1 media that this is all an indication of Mugabe’s plans to purchase Honda, or for Zimbabwe to attempt to outbid South Africa to host a Grand Prix in the near future, but rapid back-and-forth discussion on motorsport forums indicates that most F1 fans have yet to be convinced by either of these rumours.

Button himself was said to be “dismayed” at the news of his demotion, and is rumoured to be purchasing a small yacht in order to calm himself down.