Q & A with Jenson Button
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, August 20th 2009, 17:24 GMT|
Q. How much did you manage to think about Formula 1 while you were away on your holidays?
Jenson Button: I tried not to, but I did quite a bit - especially before I went away to the south of France. The week there I had training and not spending much time with people, and that is the time that you think about racing. That was the most difficult time, because it is non-stop going over in your mind and it is very difficult to sleep at night, because when you go to bed you just think about racing.
Having a holiday after I did the triathlon was so important for me - to stop thinking about racing for a while. The only way I could do that was being with my girlfriend and friends, and them taking my mind off it really. You need a break, you need to relax and freshen up – if you are thinking about it all the time you are not relaxed, you can get stressed and it can drive you mad. So it was nice not to think about racing for a little while.
Q. So given you were not close to racing, how much were you involved in trying to find out the issues that have caused your drop in performance for the past few races?
JB: Well, after the break and after the two weeks when they couldn't work at the factory, they spent a few days to work on the car and come up with some ideas. Then I spoke to my engineer 'Shov' [Andy Shovlin] last Monday. We ran through everything and what we had for this circuit aerodynamically in terms of improvements. And also the step by step over the season in terms of where we have gone with the car mechanically – the ride, the weight distribution and the rest of the mechanical set-up.
We ran through everything and saw a bit of a trend, so we think we know some of the reasons for our issues with tyre temperature. Normally, going in the direction that we have gone is the preferred route because you are looking after the tyres, but with the way the tyres are you need to be aggressive with them. You need to get them to work and you need to get them into their working range – otherwise the aerodynamic improvements you have on the car mean nothing because the four tyres are the things that are on the road, and if you cannot get them working then nothing else really matters.
We know getting the tyres to work is important, so we come here this weekend positive, as we should be, and we are going to test a few things that we had on the car in the earlier races, do some comparisons between both cars and on both cars, and we will see how it goes.
By the end of tomorrow we might put our hands up and go, we really do not know why we still cannot get the tyres working, but I am positive that we know the reasons and we can get the car back to where it was. It is not can we improve the car, it is understanding the issues and getting the car back to where it was three races ago where the car felt good – and then you can see the improvements that you have made with the car. So it is a strange situation, but even if the track is cool here this weekend I am hoping and I really feel that we can get this car working, and get the tyres working – but we will not know until after tomorrow. It all sounds great in the engineering office, and I believe them that this is the direction we need to take, but we will see tomorrow.
Q. You said just now that you needed a break, and it is a bit of a contrast to a few months ago when you were referring to yourself as a boring bastard when you were thinking about racing all the time. Do you think you overdid it and were focusing too much on racing?
JB: Not really because there is only so much to think about. I am not the engineer that sits in the factory and has all the information in front of him. Talking to your engineer is important on certain occasions, but you do need to relax.
This has been a great break, and I am sure it is not just for me – it is for everyone in the team. The whole factory had a holiday, which is the first time in their F1 career – every single person in the team having a two-week break is just madness. I think we all needed that. It will freshen everyone up, and it is not just our team it is the whole of F1.
Q. Since the start of the season you've been a constant at the front of the championship, but second place has been changing around a bit with Rubens, then Sebastian Vettel, and now Mark Webber. Do you think it is now looking like Webber will be your main threat?
JB: I don't know. It is a very difficult one. With Rubens, he has been very close to me in most of the races, he has been quicker than me in qualifying in a couple of races and he has always been there – very close. He hasn't won any races this year, which I am sure is tough, but he has been very close to doing that and always on my heel.
With Rubens, he has the same car as me – so when he is quick I will be quick, and when he is slow I will be slow. So I can control Rubens a little bit more. I am sure he will say that I can't, but it is a lot easier when it is a driver driving the same car.
But with the Red Bulls it is very difficult. They have been very competitive, especially the last few races, and the only positive I can take out of that is that there are two of them, and not just one. You would say at the start of the season that Vettel was quicker but Mark was more consistent maybe in the first six or seven races.
Mark has upped his game it looks in qualifying and race pace, and the last couple of races he has been very strong. So he has got the advantage over Vettel, but Vettel is not going to settle into third in the championship – he is still fighting for the title. And it is good to have those two going at it hard between them. That is the only positive I can take out of the last few races really.
Q. Is the growing pace of Ferrari and McLaren a positive because, for example, in Hungary they took points off the Red Bulls?
JB: Well, it is a difficult one. I don't know if it is a positive or a negative, because it helped me in Hungary but it might not help me at other circuits. I don't know. It makes things also a lot more complicated for us when it comes down to strategy. It makes it very difficult for the cars that don't have KERS.
Both the Red Bulls and us, who are fighting for the championship, we have two Ferraris and two McLarens that are going to be around us on the start and have a very good opportunity to get past us. So it makes our strategy so, so difficult – and particularly for teams that are fighting for the world championship, it is quite unusual to have that worry also. You need a quick car, but strategy has been key at a few races for sure.