FIA post-race press conference - Hungary 06 Aug 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Jenson Button (Honda), 1h52m20.941s; 2nd Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes), 1h52m51.778s; 3rd Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), 1h53m04.763s.
Q: Jenson, let the words sink in: youve won your first Grand Prix!
Jenson Button: I know. The problem is that it feels so normal already. Wow! What a day! Its been amazing. The weather conditions made the race very, very difficult for everyone but coming through from 14th and winning the race, I couldnt have done it in a better way, I dont think. I need to thank everyone. The strategy was fantastic and everyone within the team has done a great job this weekend and its nice to see that weve got a car that can win races. The team deserves this. Theyve been working so hard and its taken so many years to get here. Were finally here. Ive got to say a big thank you to everyone in the factory and everyone back in the UK who is supporting me because theyve never lost faith which is the amazing thing.
Q: A great early phase of the race for you and everybody on Michelins, and then the race for you really came alive after the safety car when you were right behind Fernando in the Renault.
JB: Yeah and if my voice sounds funny, its because Ive been screaming so much! Yeah, exactly, it was obviously fun closing down Alonso. We made a great choice on the tyres and also on the last pit stop. Weve been a real thinking team today. We havent just gone out there and had the best car and won the race. Weve thought hard about this strategy and weve won the race, not just through speed but also because of our strategy and then the way of working within Honda. Ive got to thank them all. Fukui-san is here, the president of Honda, so its a great present for him.
Q: How did that last lap feel?
JB: Amazing. The last ten laps. I didnt want the race to end. Normally, when youre in the lead I suppose it goes on for ever but I was loving it. We turned down the revs a lot, I knew wed get to the end of the race. I had a forty second lead and I didnt want it to end, it was the best feeling, knowing that youre on the way home to winning your first Grand Prix.
Q: Pedro, dramatic race for you, spinning right at the beginning of the race and then of course that incident between Vitantonio Liuzzi and your teammate Kimi Räikkönen, and here you are second at the end.
Pedro de la Rosa: Yes, I forgot about the spin on the formation lap. I was trying to warm up the rear tyres and I just spun but after that I forgot it, I just calmed myself and did a good start. The car was very good on intermediate tyres, the tyre choice was great. It was a bit tricky when it started raining again, they cooled down and it was a little bit difficult. There were a couple of times when I really nearly lost the car but after that it was fine, and finally, at the end, second position is great. Thanks to the team, McLaren Mercedes, all the test team, thank you guys. I think today it was like a test Grand Prix because we went through all the types of tyres we have and I feel very good. And finally Jenson has made it on the day I finished second. It could have been a different way!
Q: Nick, what a race with Michael Schumacher, with you and Pedro right at the end of the race there.
Nick Heidfeld: Yeah, I was closing the gap pretty quickly. Obviously he had big problems, I think his tyres were just down to nothing so he had no grip any more and I saw that it took Pedro a while to overtake him and although I knew there were a few more laps to get Michael, I wanted to take the first opportunity because sometimes I guess hes not so easy to overtake and then he drove into the back of my car. I think he destroyed his suspension or whatever, and after that my steering wasnt straight any more either, so I just took it easy to the end.
Q: But like everybody else, a great early pace on those Michelins and great strategy too.
NH: Actually at the beginning it was a bit difficult. My start was good but as I was on a very high fuel load, I think I struggled a bit to begin with. Once the tyre temperature was there, it was OK and then I have to thank the pit crew, because I was behind Coulthard as I went off the circuit once, there were some stones on the circuit and that caused me to go off. Anyway, I came in behind Coulthard and they did a very good stop, I passed him that way, and also at the second stop, Rubens was quite a long way in front of me but I stayed out on intermediates which seemed to go pretty slowly, but once they cleaned off, they became quicker and thanks to that, I managed to pass him.
Q: Jenson, back in 1993, an Englishman named Damon Hill won his first Grand Prix here and went on to win the next two races. You said this one is already behind you
JB: Yeah, you know its great to get that first win after so long. Its obviously a great feeling for myself and the team but its good that I dont have to do those interviews any more, when they say youve done 113 Grands Prix and you havent had a win. Now they will say that Ive had a win after 113 Grands Prix; it sounds a lot better.
Q: Great performance, well done Jenson, is it all beginning to sink in now, or is it already passed?
JB: No, it hasnt passed, but you know you can get used to winning quite quickly, I think. But no, its an amazing feeling. Those last ten laps when I was leading, I had a forty second lead, the best laps of my career, just to sit there and relax, knowing that I didnt have to push too hard and it could just sink in, and enjoy those laps.
Q: When did you think to yourself: hey, I can really win this?
JB: Thats a tough one, probably about thirty laps in. I was pretty happy with myself and the way the car was going, but you never know in these conditions. Youre not thinking I can win this race. Youre just thinking about getting the best out of all youve got and thats exactly what we did and we came away with the win.
Q: On those early laps, on a circuit where everyone says you cant overtake, you were picking off a competitor a lap for six laps absolutely flying!
JB: Yeah, the first lap, I had a terrible start. Alonso came past me and disappeared but then it was just picking off people and getting closer and closer to the front. But it was really enjoyable, to come from 14th and win the race here in these conditions is the perfect way to win your first race, I think.
Q: Where would you have been without the penalty?
JB: It might not have worked from fourth, you never know!
Q: Any problems at all?
JB: There always are in these conditions, when its drying out youre not sure what to do, either to go to grooved tyres, keep the intermediates on or put new intermediates on. Its something which a lot of people made mistakes with, but thinking back to Spa, where I left the tyres on for two stints, I did the same again and it worked the same. A lot of people obviously didnt realise what we did in Spa last season. It worked and then we stuck the slicks (dries) on at the end and the pace was there.
Q: So it was intermediates, the same intermediates and then dries?
JB: Yeah. I think I had three stops. I cant remember actually. I cant remember anything after about three minutes ago now. All Im thinking about is that Ive just won my first race in Formula One!
Q: How do you think its going to affect you; youve got a nice three week break now!
JB: Yeah, well, it would be nice to party this evening but Im going away to Shanghai for four days PR which is going to be pretty tough, getting on a plane this evening, but theres another time to see my family and friends after that and Ive got a great holiday, Im heading out with my friends to the Mediterranean and celebrate. We do need to celebrate it and then we can start moving on and look to the next one.
Q: I expect your father will look after the celebrations
JB: I think the old boy will enjoy himself this evening. I think hes staying in Hungary. I could see on his face when I was on the podium - hes staying!
Q: Pedro, great pace early when you did a lot of overtaking as well?
PDLR: Yes, it was a very interesting race and interesting too on the formation lap when I spun and after that I just kept my head down and tried to avoid mistakes and going off and I had a couple of nearly-offs and came back and I said to myself if you make it to the finish we have the speed to be on the podium so I just got my head down and kept pushing and the car was pretty good on all kinds of tyres especially towards the end with dry tyres when the car was pretty quick and proud of the work the whole team has done and looking forward to the next one and extremely happy with my first podium finish ever in Formula One and happy to for Jenson with his first win. Unfortunately he won the day I finished second! That is the only thing
Q: In the middle stint you seemed to be dropping back. Did you have problems?
PDLR: In that stint we actually filled the car full of fuel and the plan was to save fuel and not to stop and to do a long middle stint, however the track dried out much quicker than we expected and I had to pit much earlier than I expected and had already a lot of fuel in the car and that is the only part of the race where we were not so quick and it worked out in the end and I had nothing to complain about.
Q: What was the tyre wear then? Intermediates, intermediates and then drys?
PDLR: The first stop it was starting to rain and I was told on the radio that it would stop in a few laps and I said I hope it does stop because if it continues to rain we are going to have problems with intermediates and they said no it will stop and so that was a very good call from the pit wall and that made us put again intermediate tyres which handled not very well and I tried to go off line to cool them and try to do all the tricks from past years to not overheat the tyres but it was drying at a very quick pace and so the call in was very good, change to the right tyres was good and the only tricky corner was turn one coming out of the pits and it was very easy to go off
Q: And then a massive battle with Michael that went on for four or five laps?
PDLR: It was not a massive battle, it was just that he was defending his position a little too much for his pace. He was on intermediate slick tyres and he was already doing miracles to keep the car on the track and I didnt expect him to battle that hard but because there was a dry line and off line it was wet it was difficult for me to have a go and his car was very quick in a straight line so I just waited and waited and from the pit wall they were getting a little nervous and I knew that but I just had to wait and show the patience really to go for it and in the chicane one time and we both went a little bit wide and he jumped the chicane which I thought was not too fair and the second time around I made it and it felt very good.
Q: Sorry to go on about this, but the first time it seemed as if he backed off and realised he had taken an advantage and was going let you go and then decided he wasnt after all?
PDLR: That nearly cost me a crash. I overtook him and then he jumped the chicane, ok, he came back and he backed off and I went into turn eight on the inside just thinking he was giving position away like he should and he suddenly accelerated and so I jumped over the inside kerb and we just crashed wheels and I really didnt understand it it was interesting and that was that.
Q: Nick, he overtook you and then you got your own back?
NH: I mean I saw that it took Pedro quite a while to get by (him) and I knew there were a few more laps to go so I thought ok he wont make it easy for me so the first chance I get I take it. As Pedro said it was wet off line and I was a lot quicker but I didnt want to wait and had a good chance and was past and he drove into the back of my car and his suspension was destroyed and actually after that my steering wasnt straight after all, so I took it easy.
Q: What about the early stages?
NH: My start was ok, but after that I had some problems with the tyres heating up and that depended on the stage of the race and some parts were not so quick and others like when it started raining I was pretty quick. And it was the same on the second stint on inters, you had to pace yourself and even try to save the tyres a little bit. It was the same with the grooved tyres at the end. On the inters I was pretty slow in one part and I told the team I had some graining and so they realised we had to wait a few more laps and when the graining was gone I was pretty quick again.
Q: Same sequence as the others inters, inters and then drys?
NH: Yes, I had three stops inters, inters, inters and then drys.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mathias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) Pedro, can you explain please how you saw the situation with Kimi crashing?
PDLR: I was just behind Kimi and there was a back marker I dont know who it was and coming out of turn five the back marker backed off while Kimi was accelerating out of the corner and probably there was a misunderstanding and Kimi was not expecting him to back off there and probably he was looking at the mirror or the dash board there or something and it was quite a big crash to be honest and it wasnt nice.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) How does your future look now?
PDLR: Well, now it is not raining it is looking better I dont know to be honest. I was very happy to be told that I would drive in Hungary and a podium obviously is a great result and now the team has to say what it wants for the future. I want them to say rather than I say anything so I had better shut up.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Congratulations, you look relieved. Can you tell us your thoughts when you realised you would win?
JB: I think about 35 to 36 laps in I knew the pace was good compared to the people around me, but you never know in a race like this if you have a chance of winning because although you are competitive there is so much that can happen with the weather and if it rained again who knows what would happen. There are so many different circumstances and scenarios. I think probably 10 laps from the end when I was leading by 40 seconds that I had a hint that I was going to win the race but again I was looking at the clouds as you come down the main straight and there is a big, big black cloud and thats why I had to build up such a big gap in case I had to come in and change back to intermediates. The last 10 laps were fantastic and I didnt have to push that hard, I just enjoyed myself and let it sink in. I wasnt pushing, the car was not pushing the engine and I knew I would get home safe and I was just thinking about what to say in the press conference really.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) As you mentioned, you have put up with a lot of interviews with people reminding you of statistics to do with your career, so do you now feel a great sense of vindication now that you have your first win?
JB: First of all is this your first race?
Ed Gorman: No.
JB: Is it not? Third? Well, you come again anyway. Yes, it is something, thinking personally about myself, and also the team. I think they did a fantastic job both before when they were BAR and also now it is Honda and done a fantastic job. They never let their heads drop when times were tough because it has been tough and all worked right through. Today looked like a race-winning team with the way they worked and the strategy and it is fantastic to see. This evening I will run through it again I am sure and a lot of interviews I have done or read about myself have always had that he has had 113 Grands Prix, or 114, and not won a race and now they are not going to happen anymore and it is going to be that he has won his first race and looking to the next one which is nice. It will take a big weight off my shoulders when I read the press and I do read your interviews now and again.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Jenson, at home, there will be millions of people celebrating up and down the land. Do you have a message to your supporters?
JB: Yes, a nice big thank you. Its been a tough few years and my time at Honda has been fantastic, but weve had some low times and this is the best time of my career and so I say a big thank you to my supporters for staying with me and supportive through the difficult times and that is when you learn who they are and I have got a lot out there that Ive seen through fan mail and support at Silverstone and all around the world and it is a really nice feeling to have a chance to repay them for their effort and support over the years.
Q: (Niki Takeda Formula PA) Jenson, surely you didnt dream you would win after all that happened before the race?
JB: We were quite quick in the dry and before my engine blew the times were very good. We thought we were in with a chance of scoring very good points here and a podium was going to be difficult especially in dry conditions, but in the wet our car worked very well. The strategy worked out for us. Everyone stayed calm and did a great job and that is what won us the race, not outright pace.
Q: (Andrew Frankl - Forza) I think you said you would shave should you win a race Did I get that right Jenson?
JB: I did, but I didnt think I was going to win a race because I like it long. But I think Im going to have to shave now. What do you think? Its a bit hippy isnt it? If I shave well all like Pedro, all clean-shaven, all the same. Weve got to have a bit of style you know . (To Pedro) You go for it?
Q: (Sal Zanca AP) Jenson, have you counted up your races for a definitive number before this first victory?
JB: I dont have that much time on my hands. Thats not that important to me. The only way I know is by reading articles, but it is nice to get that first win and get it off my shoulders and hopefully I can celebrate this first win next week when I get back from doing four days of PR and we can look forward to Turkey where with some new things on the car we can improve our performance again in the dry and in the wet. So, it is promising.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Pedro, how do you describe this weekend as a whole and do you feel confident of getting a victory this year?
PDLR: First of all it is great to get a whole Grand Prix where everything works and you are not just quick in qualifying but also in the race. Having a strong qualifying has been one of my main problems. You look at Bahrain I did the fastest lap but didnt qualify that great but anyhow had to open the track on the old qualifying system. In Magny-Cours I did the first fastest lap of the race, at Hockenheim I did laps when I was seventh and finally it has all fallen into place and I am extremely happy because I thought I deserved a podium sooner or later because I have been pushing, testing, travelling and working pretty hard for last ten years and so I feel I deserve it. I feel I am in a cloud at the moment. To have two weeks now to let it sink in is great and to be here at the podium with a great team in Formula One like McLaren Mercedes, without whom it would be impossible.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Jenson, what has happened to turn the team around in such a short time?
JB: It has been many things in Hockenheim, we had an aerodynamic upgrade and also with the engine and the front suspension. Many little things have made the difference. We have always been quick in Hockenheim but here to have a quick car shows we have made a step forward. It would have been difficult to win the race in the dry but in these conditions it was possible. It will be very competitive in Turkey.
Q: (Istvan Simon Szines Bulvar Lap) Do you feel any special relationship with this track?
JB: It has been a controversial circuit for me and it is nice to put that behind me and proves what you can do with a clear head. Ive made right choice to be with Honda and this is a great race to get my first win. Fukui-san is here, the president of Honda and obviously was disappointed with my engine failure yesterday as we all were and now it is nice to top this weekend off with a win.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Pedro, can you win a race this year?
PDLR: Well, yes, actually, it is a consequence of a good work. First a podium. When I spoke earlier I said I had to improve my performance. In Magny-Cours I finished seventh, now I finish second, now I have to improve again and winning is the next step. We are more competitive now. Why not? McLaren Mercedes is not a team that stops its development half way through the year, they push to the very last race. And that is very important to bear in mind.