Q & A with Jenson Button

Q. How much of a disappointment was the result of the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Q & A with Jenson Button

Jenson Button: Yeah, a real disappointment. It was very similar to the Nurburgring in the way of damaging the rear tyres. I got a reasonable start and our aim was to keep position. We thought that we could hang with the front bunch and when they started peeling off we would have a good chance of jumping them.

But I lost a place to [Kazuki] Nakajima at the start. I got him back on lap two which was good, as I was in a good position then. I thought I would then look after the tyres because [Sebastian] Vettel was in front and had had a bad start, which was great for us as I was running five or six laps longer than him. And I thought for four or five laps I would look after the tyres, which I did.

Even looking after the tyres though I grained the rears, and that was it. They started graining and I couldn't keep with the cars in front and lost a lot of time. So I had Nakajima all over me until my first pit stop and after that we went for the softer tyre again, as we didn't think the prime would work for us because of the low temperatures. But we grained it again on the rears, and had the same sort of problems.

I was stuck behind [Jarno] Trulli in the end, and in front of Nakajima, and they were both going two laps longer on the stint. So I thought we were screwed. We put the prime on, I had to put a couple of good laps in which I did, and I overtook Trulli and stayed in front of Nakajima. So we got two points, which in a way was good. Vettel didn't score, Webber didn't win and only got four points on me, which isn't good but it could have been a hell of a lot worse considering how slow we were in the race.

The frustrating thing is that on Friday the car was working well and we were one of the only teams not to get rear graining. We had the best tyre condition out of anyone on Friday, and then the last run in qualifying with fuel on board did not feel great and it was the same in the race. We were destroying the rear tyres and no one else is - so it is amazing how it can turnaround.

Q. Any clues about the reasons why?

JB: Well, the car hasn't changed. The only thing that has changed is the weather from Friday to Sunday. We keep complaining and saying it is the weather's fault, and it basically is. We have built a car that looks after its tyres when it is the right temperature range, but as soon as it drops out of that we have got a problem.

We cannot just blame the weather. In a way it is our fault for building the car the way it is, and we have got to work out how to make it work in conditions that don't suit our car so much.

Q. But the weather here was not too bad - it was mid 20s...

JB: Well the circuit was about 33-34C, and on Friday it was 44C. So that was 10 degrees, which is a lot and made a big difference.

Q. Yeah, but it is a bit like Monaco where you were very strong

JB: Monaco was hotter than here for sure. There are many things that we need to look at. The new aerodynamic parts on the car, are they working? The car doesn't feel like it did in Monaco or Turkey - although Monaco wasn't much hotter than here. We need to look at many things and the new parts we have put on the car. People have got quicker, the Red Bulls are quicker, and many people at the front have improved at the front - but forgetting them, our car does not feel the same as it did three races ago. So, there are lots of areas we need to look at, and if we had tried to concentrate on helping the rears on Friday, which would have been insane because why would we need to, we maybe would have looked after them better today, but then we would have struggled massively with front graining.

Q. You are at a point of the season where you have to start developing next year's car. Is this impacting on your performance relative to the opposition?

JB: I think most teams will be. Red Bull may be the only ones who are developing a bit later for next year. Ferrari are developing for next year, and they have not really had any big updates. Kimi still finished second, and that is massive.

Q. But they have more resources than you...

JB: Yeah, but it doesn't make any difference if they haven't improved the car. They haven't had updates. We have had a lot of updates in the last two races, and Ferrari haven't, so for them to be in front of us is a big surprise. It is not just that we are not developing the car as quick as other teams, it is that our performance just isn't there relative to ourselves, not compared to our competitors.

Q. How much of a factor was KERS in the race?

JB: It is a bit. But I think in a way it is good that the Red Bulls are suffering a bit. They are unsure about their tyres also. They put Mark on a prime in the middle stint which probably was not best for them, and Vettel started on a prime as well which was a surprise. So they are finding it a bit difficult as well, which is nice, and they are the team we are racing. So that is the important thing. The next race, KERS is reasonably important. But the big KERS circuits will be Spa and Monza - they are just going to destroy us on those circuits, which perhaps is a good thing.

Q. Do you still feel comfortable with your championship position?

JB: For sure, not. I have lost 15 points to Webber over the past three races, and that is massive. It's five points per race. It means he will be in front of me in four races time, and there are seven races left. So it is for sure not comfortable, but I cannot do anything about it at the moment except we just need to go through the data, which is annoying as we have to wait for two weeks [because of the factory shutdown].

Q. Are you using the same tub as you did at the start of the season?

JB: Yeah, we haven't made any new tubs. We can't.

Q. Do you think that might be a factor, that it might be getting long in the tooth?

JB: I don't think that happens, and it is not suddenly going to change from like it was in Turkey, which was the best car I have ever driven. We destroyed everyone there. If I had pushed all the way to the end of the race in Turkey, we would have finished 45 seconds or so ahead of everyone. I backed off towards the end of the race and still finished with a 20-second lead. So I don't know.

Q. So you are on holiday from tomorrow?

JB: Yeah, the factory closes at 6pm tomorrow. So the next two weeks are off, but then we still have two weeks off before the next race. I think you can still think about racing though.... Hopefully people are still thinking about racing.

We have to sort it out because we are leading the championship, but it is inevitable they are going to overtake us if the Brawns keep going like they are. It is like wearing the yellow jersey [in the Tour de France], knowing that when you get to the mountains you are going to be useless and overtaken. It is nice leading the championship, but it won't be the case in the next three or four races if we have the performances like we have had in the last few.

Valencia I say is going to be hot, but then here we thought it would be in the 30s. But if you look at the weather forecast, it has been 34-35C all week, and the weekend was 24-25C and then it is going back up again from Monday. So, maybe someone is trying to make the racing more interesting this year - they don't want us walking away with it. So they are doing their job very well.

Q. But it is fair to say that you still have belief in this team to get the root of the problems?

JB: Yeah, for sure. They have done great things with this car, and all through the first part of the season we've added updates and it has improved the car. We've made steps forward and we saw that in Barcelona. And the last two updates, I can't see them as worse. It is not something that would unsettle the car. It should just give the car more downforce.

It should work in every condition. It is rear downforce. It works. It helps. So there is something not quite right. We are running at 60C with the tyres, which is out of their working range. But how do we get them in their working range? That is what we need to work out.

shares
comments
Button fears for championship lead

Previous article

Button fears for championship lead

Next article

McLaren wants more wins this year

McLaren wants more wins this year
Load comments
The key details the boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details the boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021