Q & A with Jenson Button

Jenson Button comes to the Spanish Grand Prix with a 12-point advantage in the world championship, three wins out of four races in 2009 so far, and a host of upgrades on his Brawn GP BGP001

Q & A with Jenson Button

But as he told reporters at Barcelona today, he is not taking anything for granted yet.

Q. What are you expecting from the weather this weekend?

Jenson Button: There's a chance of rain on Sunday, but we're not too worried. We've realised a lot of the reasons why we weren't quick (in China), and we'll have much better pace in the wet here. So I'm not worried on that side of things. I'd rather it was dry, but if it's wet I don't think we'd have the big difference to the Red Bulls that we had in China.

Q. You said Red Bull was ahead of you in Bahrain, but now you're introducing developments so will that have changed?

JB: I hope so. I don't think it was just that they'd made a performance step. It was also that with the temperature, we were struggling a lot more than other people. We didn't have much time to fit this engine into the car, to squeeze it in. We were struggling with the heat a little bit with the engine, so we would have lost a bit of time there. Some of it comes from just the parts being tired, because none of our bits went back in between the races. We didn't have any bits so they stayed out with us.

If you saw our car before the last race, she was starting to look a bit tired. To make everything perfect and not so tired also makes a bit of a difference. It's amazing how much difference that can make. And also the Red Bulls had made a bit of an improvement. So I don't think we were the quickest car in Bahrain. I think we did well strategy-wise, but more importantly to get in front of Lewis (Hamilton) and (Sebastian) Vettel on the first lap made the race, otherwise we would have finished behind.

Q. How pivotal is this weekend?

JB: It is an important weekend. We've got a new package here, and we won't be getting a new package immediately after, so this package has to give us a good lump in lap time. I don't know who else has got a new aero package here. We have to hope that ours is enough to put us in front of the Red Bulls by a small margin, because I'm sure they're going to be improving all the time. So it's important, this weekend, for us.

Q. How much lap time do you expect to gain?

JB: I don't know. I'm not going to bother mentioning what they think it will give us because many times before they've said it will give us a certain amount but it's never quite the same on the circuit. But the way that it helps the balance of the car without chucking downforce on it should help us a lot. That was an area where we were weak.

Q. You were very quick here in the winter.

JB: Yeah, but we were quick everywhere in winter testing. I think everyone's improved. I don't think we'll see the pace that we had here in winter testing. The circuit's a lot hotter. The car won't feel as good as it did in the winter, and everyone else is closer to us.

Q. Was this where the other teams saw your potential in the winter and started to panic?

JB: I thought people thought 'they're cheating, they haven't got any weight in the car.'

Q. Do you think your improvements this weekend will surprise teams who think they are catching you?

JB: This is a big aero circuit, and aero-wise we are good, but we're not as good as people think we are. The Red Bulls have been superior everywhere in high-speed corners. Low-speed corners are our strong point. Mechanically I think we're very strong. Here the KERS will work well. I was surprised when I heard that. But it should give them three or fourth tenths on a qualifying lap, and that's a lot of lap time. I know the McLaren people don't think they'll be competitive here because of all the high-speed corners, but with that effect it's a lot of lap time. We just have to hope they're not too quick.

Q. Are you worried about the gaps between Brawn's upgrades? Does the team have the resources and manpower to keep developing the car?

JB: I think we do. I spent some time at the factory last week and everything's going along smoothly, but you're always worried that people are going to catch up. Especially in this sort of season where aerodynamically the cars have changed dramatically since last year. So you're going to have people finding big chunks of lap time through the year. Last year you'd maybe get a tenth per race, but this year there will be quite big chunks being put on the car. But I'm not too worried I was at the start of the season, but I'm not too worried about us improving the car. We have some steps throughout the year that I'm happy with. We've just got to hope those steps are real and it's not just numbers.

Q. McLaren and Ferrari are expected to come back strongly later in the year, so do you feel you need to make the most of your advantage now?

JB: I think McLaren was very strong in Bahrain. They weren't far off us at all. One of the reasons was that KERS worked very well there, but they have been improving every race. If you look at McLaren race by race, it's been different at every race. There are new bits added everywhere on the car. So I think that's why they got so close. Whereas we'll be adding a bigger chunk of lap time to the car aerodynamically, McLaren probably won't have any upgrades here. That's the difference.

It's the way that they have to work because they have to catch us up. Everything that they get in the windtunnel they're going to have to be throwing at the car. Same with Ferrari and some of the other top teams that aren't quite as competitive. Whereas I think we can be a little bit more controlled. We have the pace at the moment and everything we put on the car has to be a good amount better. It's no use just getting loads of little bits and throwing them together. it's got to be a controlled update.

Q. Is it too early to think about the championship and start driving with points in mind?

JB: Yeah, it is. I haven't experienced it before, but obviously between first and second there's only two points difference. It's a little bit frustrating when you've won three races and you've got a 12-point lead. I think we need to concentrate on this weekend. You've got to be aggressive at this point in the season. It might all go wrong, but you've got to be aggressive, because if you potter around and pick up the points, you haven't got a chance when it comes to the end of the year. You have to be fighting for a win at every race you go to. If I didn't in Bahrain, we probably would've finished second or third.

Q. Have you discussed that with Ross Brawn?

JB: We all agree. You can't start thinking about the championship yet, and I don't think any team would after four races. You've got to take every race as it comes and take the best out of what we have at every race we go to. We've got to be up there challenging for the win every time. You have one reliability issue and you've lost 10 points, then I've got a two point lead and that's it.

It can turn around so quickly. We've seen it many times, especially between Michael (Schumacher) and Fernando (Alonso) back in 2006 when they both had an engine problem at the end of the year and it just cost them masses. It's so important to be reliable, but my point is that you've got to be very aggressive at this point in the year to get as many points as you can. You can't settle for a second or third. We don't have enough of a lead yet.

Q. Do you feel you're in a better position to control the pressure of a title fight at this stage in your career?

JB: I'm in a good position. I've been in Formula 1 now for nine years so I have the experience, and now I've got a car that I can challenge for race wins with, and still have the excitement. I don't feel 29, I feel a lot younger.

shares
comments
Button: Too early for title thoughts
Previous article

Button: Too early for title thoughts

Next article

Theissen in warning over two-tier F1

Theissen in warning over two-tier F1
Load comments
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021