Q & A with Jenson Button
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, June 22nd 2009, 14:02 GMT|
AUTOSPORT brings you Jenson Button's reflections on the British Grand Prix weekend.
Q. You said on Thursday that the worst that could happen was that you would leave Silverstone with a 16-point lead, you have 23. Do you still feel disappointed not to be on the podium?
Jenson Button: Of course. Obviously I would like a good result for the crowd, but I would also have liked a good result for myself and the team. I struggled all weekend with tyre temperatures. From sixth place on the grid I was hoping to make up a couple of places, but I got a really good start and Trulli didn't - which is quite normal – and I couldn't go anywhere.
I tried to go to the inside and he blocked, and in Turn 1, I was stuck on the dirty inside and people just flew around the outside, some of them off the circuit, so I dropped back to ninth at the start. From there I was behind two cars, that I don't know if they were running KERS, but they seemed to be very strong (the Ferraris). On corner exits they seemed to be very strong on to the straights. I had no chance of getting past them.
Lucky enough I pushed Massa and he made a mistake and ran wide. And then I was just really sitting behind Trulli hoping he would make a mistake but he didn't. I backed off a little bit just to see what my pace was and then speeded up – and I was about a second quicker than him. So I was screwed and I was fuelled to lap 19, as was Rubens, and obviously he was in front and he, as he should, got lap 19. I stopped a lap early, as did Trulli.
We knew we wouldn't get him in the stops so we fuelled it long. I had a lot of fuel on board, the most I've had all year, on the prime tyre. That tyre just did not work at all. I had such little grip, and Rubens struggled with it as well even though he can work the tyre more. And he had Massa and Rosberg right up his arse, and I was just trying to stay with Trulli and Raikkonen, because I thought if I can stay close enough I'm stopping three laps later I should be able to get them.
For most of that stint the car was pretty hard to drive, because I never had any tyre heat in the fronts. So I would get to Turn 1 and there was nothing, so I was down to fifth gear through T1 instead of being in seventh. And then when Trulli pitted, on low fuel I could get a little bit of heat in the tyres and it was good. I was reasonably happy, and put some good laps in, and I came in front of him and Raikkonen. And then I had about eight/ten laps to the end of the race and pushed hard on the soft tyre.
With low fuel we got the tyres working in the right working range and I was a 1.5s quicker than the two cars in front. Rosberg and the Ferrari, which is sort of where you would expect. I closed them down but I had no chance of overtaking them, but in those ten laps I pulled 22s on Trulli. It just shows that if you are behind you can't do anything about it. And it was all screwed, a bit by yesterday, but by the start really. Going so far back at the start I was stuck.
If Rubens wasn't there I could have gone a lap longer and got past Trulli and maybe could have got past Rosberg and Massa in the second stop, but that was not the way it is and Rubens was in front of me on the circuit, so that is fair enough.
Q. Is there any danger that the balance of power is changing, or is this just a one-off where this track suited their car but did not suit yours?
JB: Driving up to the grid in Turkey everybody thought that the Red Bulls were going to destroy us there, and they didn't – we were quicker by about four tenths per lap. Here, they were much quicker than us and it is because it is absolutely freezing this weekend. The sun did not come out until after the race which is nice – thanks British weather!
So they have made a big improvement for sure Red Bull. They have got a lot of new parts on the car and they are obviously working for them. But there were other things that worked for them. This is a circuit that is very high speed, probably not our best part of the car. Also it is cold, and we cannot get the tyres in the working range, so we are losing out there. And when you go to hot circuits, we don't just get them working but Red Bull struggles with the tyre which helps us as well. And there is hardly any braking here.
I don't know if you watched the last few laps when I was behind [Nico] Rosberg, but the braking on our car is the strongest point at the moment. We are stronger than the Red Bulls under braking, but there is no braking here. You never hit the pedal that hard here, and that is another reason why we cannot get tyre temperature.
So there were lots of reasons why we were not competitive. I am not going to go away from here that disappointed. I've lost seven points to Vettel, which is disappointing, but then again I gained 10 points when he put it in the wall in Monaco. So, we could have come away with a worse result here. We finished up with three points. I know their package is good, but I am not upset. I know that it will turn around and there are lots of reasons why we were not on the pace that we can turn around at the Nurburgring.
Q. And the Nurburgring has got some good braking zones, hasn't it?
JB: Yes, it is one of the heaviest braking circuits. You have got four heavy braking zones, and Hungary is heavy braking zones. It will be hot hopefully, so they will not have the advantage that they had here. I think it will be fantastic. We won't have the advantage either, but hopefully we will be racing each other and we can put on a good performance from both teams, put on a good show and see what we come away with. It is exciting in a way for me. It is not going to be easy for sure. They beat Rubens by 45 seconds here; they beat me by 50 seconds. I don't know what I would have done if I was in third place...
Q. But you have not been fighting Ferrari and Williams all season?
JB: Exactly. The last stint showed that when we do get the tyres working in their range, the car works. I am sure the Red Bulls would have been quicker than us still, but Vettel's quickest lap of the race was in his first stint and he was pushing then – and was four tenths quicker than me. In the first stint this year it has always been the quickest, in the last stint I did a 21.1s, which was four tenths off. If you come away from here and say you are four tenths off the Red Bulls, it is not too bad. It is not too bad a position to be in. When we go to Germany, a slower speed circuit, there is only one high speed corner where they will gain a lot of time. Hopefully we will get something closer to Turkey than we saw in the British GP.
Q. You said in Turkey that at some point you knew your run had to come to an end. How heartbreaking is it that it happened at home?
JB: I would love to win the British GP, but it didn't happen. I came away with three points, which is not great. But, I am not massively disappointed. I go to the Nurburgring positive and thinking that we can take the fight to Red Bull there.
Q. Do you feel any more in a championship fight against Red Bull now, compared to how you felt before this weekend?
JB: I lost three points to Rubens here, so I have got a 23 points lead to Rubens – which is still quite a lot to be fair. Rubens is driving the same car as me, so I can try and keep him in check. Vettel is the one where you don't really know where their performance is going to be, so it is important for us to be fighting for wins.
We cannot settle for third or fourth place. I need to be fighting for wins, and they are challengers. I had a 32 point lead coming here – and you can never be comfortable enough to think that we can just cruise home. They were very quick here, and I am sure they are going to be competitive at other races; I just don't think they will have the advantage that they had here.