Jenson Button on being world champion
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, October 18th 2009, 21:27 GMT|
As the newly-crowned world champion Jenson Button walked into the press conference room at Interlagos for a hastily co-ordinated conference with the world's media, having escaped the insane scrum that was the Brawn pit garage, he was confronted with half empty rows of seats.
In buoyant mood he stood up and yelled loudly: "Where is everyone? I'm f*****g world champion!" That got some attention. Swiftly, people moved in to position to question the 29-year-old Briton on what will go down in history as one of the most extraordinary world championship campaigns.
AUTOSPORT was there to hear what the new king of Formula 1 had to say...
Q. Can you describe your emotions?
Jenson Button: It feels like I'm still racing. It has been flat out since I have got out the car, it is more of a relief. You feel ecstatic, all the bad memories and the good memories go through your mind, not just from this year but previous years in the sport. Especially this year you know, such a great start to the season, then the last races pretty stressful for me because the pace was there, but for whatever problem in qualifying we struggled. It made it very difficult for me, a bit just because mentally that hurts when you can't get the best out of the car, but also I read too many papers and magazines and there were some negative comments. It's tough when you are a driver and you know that you are at the top of your game, but there has been a lot of good stuff written about us this year and so there should be.
This team has done staggeringly well. What this team achieved this season after the winter we had is exceptional. I don't really think there has been a season like it in Formula 1. It's great to be sitting here as world champion and I personally think I thoroughly deserve it. I've been the best over 16 races and that is what world championships are. I am it. I am world champion. I am going to say that all night because I heard my flight is cancelled.
This was the best race I've driven in my life, I know because of the emotion that's involved in it, but also because I knew what I had to do - I did it, and that is why I am sat up here as world champion. I am going to enjoy this moment very much. The people around me have been so supportive. I might have come across like I don't care about this in the past, but that was just me keeping a face. It shows a weakness if you show it is hurting or stressful, but I can say it now, it was very a tough few months and I needed the people around me, especially the team to fight for this.
Today I didn't win the race but I did best I could with the car and it felt like a win to me.
I am the world champion - I am not going to stop saying it!
Q. How frustrating was it to be following Kamui Kobayashi for so long?
JB: That guy is crazy! I suppose it is just inexperience, but he moves a lot in the braking zones which makes it very difficult as Nakajima found out. Everyone else was tough but fair, he was a bit crazy and he will be put in his place a little bit more now. I had very good straightline speed, but when you have that you don't have as much downforce as other people.
I had to fight car in last three corners to get close enough to challenge in to Turn 1, every time I passed in Turn 1 I was never on their tail, it was a late braking move. You could say risky but I didn't think so. I knew I had to take points off of Rubens this race, or get close to him. Mark was very quick and Rubens was in second, so I knew I had to be fifth. That was my aim.
It was an amazing race and that race for me was probably my best race, even though I didn't win the race, because I did everything I could. I've won the world championship before the last race, which is a nice feeling. I know it has taken a bit longer than people thought, but this is F1, and there are some amazing drivers in this sport. There are competitive teams and drivers, which is why it is hard to win in it. We have seen all season long that there have been many different cars that can win races and challenge for victories so it has made it difficult for everyone this year.
Q. It was in the balance up until Rubens's second pitstop...
JB: Yeah, I think Rubens was in fourth or third. I was running in sixth at this point, that was all I needed, Rubens had to get more than four points on me. I knew I could stay in sixth, my pace was reasonably good. I didn't want to let Vettel past because I do have that fighters' instinct. He was able to get past when I was struck behind another car, but fifth place was all I could achieve today but that was enough.
Q. You appeared to have a different approach to recent races, what changed?
JB: It wasn't any different to the last couple of races. I made the moves when I had to win the races and my pace was good in clear air. Qualifying has been something I couldn't get my head around for the last few races. I don't know what it is, but it is something that we need to look at for the next race. I don't want to be beaten in the next race as the world champion. Maybe it is the stress of it all, maybe it's just that we haven't got it together. I think it's probably the latter.
Q. When you woke up this morning did you honestly think you could do it today?
JB: I did actually. Yeah. I didn't know what Rubens could do but I knew we could fight fifth or sixth. We looked at strategy and it said I could be fifth or sixth, I made everything I could happen and I went to bed last night very happy because I suppose after qualifying I really struggled.
I sat in my room after Q2 and when I thought qualifying would have gone very well because of the wet, and I enjoy the wet, and I saw the worst thing that could possibly happen to me which is my team-mate put it on pole... I felt sick, I really did.
But then I went to see the boys, everyone was very positive. I headed home with my team of people, had a few drinks and knew I was ready for action today. I've been positive all morning. It's always difficult when you are the person you are fighting for world championship is in his home country. It's been a great weekend.
I don't know what else to say. I am world champion!
Q. Are you in a position to say whether you will be in a position to defend your world title, with Brawn next year?
JB: I am hopefully going to be racing in F1, it would be a pretty poor effort if I wasn't racing. I haven't decided anything yet. Maybe I will go and race in something else or something. I've won the world championship now! No, I want to be here next year and I want to be with a team that can challenge for victories like this season.
Brawn can do that, these guys are not one hit wonders, they have some sensationally talented people in our team. We might not be big like other teams but that will be a benefit to us next season as the teams have to get smaller and we have the right amount of people for next year.
We are in a great position, we have worked on this year's car as much as possible, but we have also worked on next year's car. This isn't it for Brawn GP. But I haven't talked to the team seriously about anything for next year. We wanted to get this out the way, for the teams' championship and drivers', but I will sit down and discuss it when I've got over my hangover in the morning!
Q. Were there any moments when you thought you this day would never come?
JB: I suppose my second year in F1 was the toughest personally. After my first year it wasn't enjoyable. It was enjoyable at Williams and got great results, but I really didn't work hard enough. Basically I was too inexperienced and too young to be racing. The second and third years of my career were very difficult, especially my second. That is when I knew it wasn't just speed, you can't win races with just that. You need to work on many different areas and F1 becomes your life. That was the most difficult season.
I didn't know where my career was going then.
The only other time was last year. During the season was tough, we could not get performance out of the car but I knew I could work that out. It was the winter that was very difficult. Don't feel sorry for me because it has all come good, but it was a tough winter. Tougher for the team than it was for me for sure. I didn't know if I would be racing in F1 this year, and that is the truth.
I had a few options but nothing that would have furthered my career, so I was thinking about taking a year out. But if you do that you get forgotten as many drivers have so I am happy we were able to turn it around and get the car on the grid in Australia and this is the end of the fairy tale.
Q. Who are the people that helped you the most to get where you are now?
JB: There is long, long list. The old boy obviously, he has given me the support through my life, as my whole family have. In racing, the whole team. When you have a winter like the one we did, it was a big deal. It brought everyone very close. I've been with this team since 2003, we seem to get closer and closer. We've been through some difficult times together.
It was difficult for the team to stay positive when they have seen some poor results over the last couple of years. But they pulled together and built us a great car. The car has been great this year but how we won this is through the team effort and through every single person in this team. Everyone had to do a great job, or else you are not going to win races and you are not going to win the world championship. Hopefully they will all get their bonus now.
Q. Now you are more relaxed you can go out and win it in Abu Dhabi?
JB: Ask me before the race, I'm not interested in talking about Abu Dhabi at the moment. I've just become the world champion. That is what I am going to enjoy this evening. If I had a poor start to the season and won the last six races, would you be asking me the question? No. It's been a good year, times have been tough, I've screwed up qualifying a few times but been able to bring it back in the races and that is what is important.
Q. How does it feel to be on top of the world after a winter of such uncertainty?
JB: I think I've spoken about what it feels like to be here in this position, with the team like Brawn it is great. It is not a completely new team, a lot of personnel I've worked with in the past but we have not had the same budget as previous years. But we were still able to make parts this season and that is because we have some very talented people and good management. This team would not exist if Ross was not here. It has his name on the side of the car, and that is a lot pressure on a person. So for him to win today both the constructors' and the drivers' championship is exceptional.
The guy deserves a medal. He has been very helpful over the past few races. He has won many world championships and he has also seen tough seasons. He has been in every situation, he knows that normally winning the world championship is not easy and you have many dark days. So he has been helpful. I don't think anyone could have done it without him.
Q. You have had your detractors, how much is this result one in the eye for them?
JB: I don't need to use words for that one. I have had a very up and down season but I have come out on top - I am world champion. What other words can I use? It is getting boring now. Not it's not, um...
I am going to enjoy this moment like you wouldn't believe. You can do that when you've won can't you? I don't need to say anything. You will always have people who are negative, and to start with it is boring talking about me finishing sixth, fourth, fifth, second... Jenson did a reasonable job today... that doesn't sell newspapers, I understand it is exciting to talk about, 'he is losing it, or if he is a worthy world champion', but I am sitting here now! You can't take that away.
The last few races have I think, in the races shown that I have done everything I can with the package I had and today was no exception for me. Today was the best drive I have done in my career. DC said it was a winners' drive and I am not going to talk it down. Today was a great drive.
Q. Mark Webber said you will sleep well tonight because you have been absolutely bricking it for the last few races. Aussie overstatement?
JB: I haven't enjoyed the last few weeks and it has been difficult because even though you have got the lead, it is very, very difficult. Even if you are performing very well, and leading people in the championship, it is still very stressful. You go to bed thinking about qualifying and races... and you wake up thinking about. During that period you might sleep on it, especially without Jessica here, I've been all on my own so... I did ask the boys if they would stay in my room last night as I knew it would be a tough, but they didn't!
It's weird because I dreamt up on Friday night that qualifying would be terrible and it was, and I also dreamt that night that I would win the world title so maybe there is some truth in dreams.