FIA post-race press conference - Spain 10 May 2009
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Jenson Button (Brawn GP), 1h37m19.202s; 2nd Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP), 1h37m32.258s; 3rd Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1h37m33.126s.
Q: Jenson, another brilliant day for you and your team. A switch for your team-mate to a three stop strategy relatively early in the race and then just a great day for you.
Jenson Button: Well, it was the other way around. We were both going that direction but they switched me to a two stop just to cover all our bases. Three stop was the quicker strategy we thought and I wasnt sure about going to a two stop. When we put the fuel on board it felt very, very heavy and I didnt think I would come out in front of (Felipe) Massa and (Sebastian) Vettel but I did. From then on I could get my head down and concentrate on putting the laps in and being as consistent as possible. So to come away with a win, they all mean a lot obviously but coming back to Europe and winning in Barcelona, a circuit that Ive always found a little bit tough, its a good feeling and gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
Q: Rubens, a great team performance as well. Tell us about the race from your point of view.
Rubens Barrichello: The race evolved quite well. I had a great start, went to the lead. I was running a tiny bit quicker than Jenson to begin with and I had two more laps of fuel. It was running quite well and then I heard they changed Jensons strategy and I had to keep on pushing. My third set of tyres was not good. I dont know if there was something broken on the car or anything. I could not keep my pace up as well as the last set, so I guess it wasnt the tyre, it must be something to do with the car and from there on it was a struggle. I had a big struggle to keep the car on the track and a relief to come second and a big thank you to the whole group as it is still first and second back in Europe. Disappointed that I havent won the race as I thought I had it in the bag today but it is still a good effort from the whole team.
Q: Mark, a strong result for you and the team. Your team-mate Sebastian Vettel obviously spent most of the race behind Felipe Massas Ferrari. But a great ending to your second stint to make up that time.
Mark Webber: Yeah, exactly. It was a tough first stint in terms of we knew that it was in qualifying that it was going to be difficult to get track position on those guys, particularly Felipe round this place as you cant do much on the circuit. We did our best to hang in there in the first stint as best as we could. I knew I was one lap shorter which is never ideal but thats the way it was because of qualifying. The car went incredibly neutral in the high speed in the last few laps of the first stint, so we made a balance correction for the second stint and the second stint went very well for me. It was very long, we knew we had to go extremely long to try and jump and give us very good field position if you like with the people around us. That worked well for the majority of the stint, a good 25 laps or so, and again at the end I came up to Rubens a little bit. I would have tried to stay close and the guys were encouraging me to stay as close as possible as we thought Rubens might have been one lap shorter but he stopped on the same lap. The primes worked okay at the end. I was stuck behind Rubens again for most of the last stint. But it is a good day for the team. We would like a few more points but I think, what is it 10 or 11 for Sebastian and I so thats another good chunk for us. These guys are a still going away but we are going away from the rest of the field, so a great day for us. And the team have buried themselves this week to get the car ready, a lot of all-nighters and a fantastic thank you to Renault as the engines have been great.
Q: Jenson, lets have a look at the start. Your start with Rubens taking the lead and the first corner accident and weaving through the debris afterwards behind the safety car.
JB: Yeah, the start I felt was okay but Rubens got a flier of a start. I moved to the inside to try and hold the line but when he has got that much of an overlap at the start you cant really do much about it into turn one. Rubens did a great start and I wasnt able to stay with him on that and as soon as he was in front I knew it was going to be very difficult to beat him.
Q: And the mayhem behind you?
JB: We obviously didnt see any of that. The only thing we saw was the debris. When we got to it the debris was all over the circuit, so its a surprise that there were no tyre issues afterwards as there were massive amounts of debris.
Q: When you come into that situation behind the safety car what are you looking for? What can you do to try and avoid issues with the tyres, etc?
JB: Well, you are very limited. If there is carbon fibre all over the circuit you are limited to what you can do. You have got your spotter, you have got your engineer who has been looking at the accident, he knows where the worst bits are. But look at the pick up on the tyre, its massive. And a great thing that there were no issues with the debris, so it is positive really.
Q: Rubens, as Jenson just said, a great start for you.
RB: I had a great reflex and I did have a little better start than Jenson and I used his slipstream and was able to carry that momentum into the first corner.
Q: And then coming in for this earlier pit stop for your scheduled strategy?
RB: I was on a lap or two longer. Obviously I think Jenson caught me up a little bit on the strategy because of the safety car. I was quite happy as having a lap longer and being in front I was delighted. I had the race in my hands, so I was actually quite surprised when they told me they had switched Jenson to two. From then on I had to go flat out. The only minor thing was that I came in a lap or two earlier on my final pit stop as there were lots of cars and blue flags and I was losing time.
Q: Mark, your team-mate was in front of you. But the KERS certainly did well for Massa off the line. But by your second pit stop you had made that ground back by running six laps longer.
MW: Yeah, we knew what we had to do. It wasnt rocket science. Go long when I knew they would have bolted the primes on.
Q: And Mark today is the 50th anniversary of Sir Jack Brabhams first ever win in Formula One, so a nice day for you to be on the podium.
MW: Yeah, exactly. I saw a great photo of Jack earlier today. He did a huge amount for Formula One. He is a legend in our country, so it is great to get a podium on the same day as he had a great day as well. So, a special day.
Q: Jenson, we wont mention what lies ahead other than the immediate future which is the Monaco Grand Prix and what a momentum you now have.
JB: Yeah, it is a dream come true so far this season. Even when times are tough we seem to be able to get the wins. When it is going well, it goes well, doesnt it. And it was the same last year. When it was going bad, it went really bad. I do feel like I am on top of the world at the moment as I am sure the whole team do also. They have done a magnificent job and with this new package you can see we have got a bit of an advantage again. I am very proud of all the guys back at the factory. I dont think they get enough of a mention, the guys at Brackley, so thank you very much and also thanks to Mercedes Benz as we cant do it without you.
Q: Jenson, I mentioned earlier on today about that statistic about starting from pole. The last eight winners. Now it makes nine winners. But you were on the clean side of the circuit in theory and yet you got a worse start than Rubens who was on the dirty side.
JB: No, Rubens started right behind me.
Q: Yes, thats right. You had Sebastian right behind you.
JB: Yes, thanks for that statistic. I was thinking about that when I came out of turn one second. It wasnt the best start. It was a good start but this guy just got an amazing start and as soon as he was in front I couldnt do anything about him on the first stint. Basically I was hoping I could get a big enough gap with Massa as I knew he was stopping a few laps longer. I thought if he gets in front of me then thats it, Im screwed. I was pushing him as much as I could and we both pulled away. Rubens pulled a little bit of a gap on me and I was able to get the gap to Massa. They realized I had enough of a gap to pit and exit in front of Massa even though he was stopping later, so they tried to cover both bases. We were both on a three stop initially and they put me to a two. The three was a quicker race we thought but obviously the two worked. As soon as I came out of the pits in front of Massa then it was just trying to put the laps in. It was difficult as I had a lot of fuel on board on that second stint. I had to push so hard on a heavy fuel load and I damaged the tyres quite a bit but I could get the lap time out of the car being aggressive with it. And thats the good thing about this car. You can be aggressive and it doesnt seem to eat up the tyres. It is not normally my style but it is a style I had to take for this race and it made the difference and Rubens had his problems with understeer on his third set of tyres. When I got onto the prime I could get a reasonable lap time out of them which most people couldnt. There were lots of little factors which all came together and I crossed the finish line first. This is a race which I didnt really think I was going to, so yeah, I am very happy and this means a lot going into the next couple of races.
Q: It sounds like you learned a little bit during this race as well?
JB: Yeah, I mean different circuits you have got to drive these cars with a different style. Bahrain is a circuit where a smooth style sort of helps and here I have found over the last couple of days that you cant get the lap time by driving smoothly. You have to come out of the corner and plant the throttle. As you see from the on-board cameras there is a lot of nervousness and if you dont have that you dont have the lap time. It is something I have learnt and it definitely paid off learning from watching people but also learning from watching Rubens. Rubens has been very fast this weekend. I have obviously watched him out on the circuit and looked at his data, so he has helped me quite a bit.
Q: What about Monaco? Will that be a bit of a wild card as a race?
JB: It is very different and it is chuck all the downforce on and dont worry about the drag and see what happens. It is a circuit which I think is very similar to this. I think I have always been a little bit too cautious around circuits like this, so I have to change my style a bit to make it work on different circuits and Monaco is a circuit where I need to get the best out of the car and maybe change my style a bit from the first four races as its a bit more like here, so I am looking forward to it and this guy is going to be a big challenge there and that is what we look forward to, the challenge.
Q: It is going to be his birthday in Monaco. He is going to be expecting a birthday present.
JB: We will see about that. I dont think I can help out. I think that is down to you, fella?
Q: Rubens, your thoughts on today? How much was Massa a threat with his KERS?
RB: He was always a threat before the race but I was very confident that we could have a good start. I was very determined to be very precise with everything and my race was like that. My race was very precise. From the first corner I thought leading the race and having a lap more than Jenson I would have won the race. I pushed from the very beginning as much as I could. There was never any time that I dropped any time as I just had to go flat out as soon as they told me that Jenson had switched to a two I thought there was some danger in there because when you have three and the guys are behind, he will be much faster but you can control the visibility and see where he is fast and where he is not and control the pace. But when I saw that he changed I was on my own and had to go flat out and I did. I couldnt have done any better. On my third set I didnt have the pace that I had on the first and second set. I dont know why. It was just not there. I was locking wheels all over the place and the same thing happened to the final set, so I hope that the guys come back to me and say there was a small problem somewhere. But again, I go home happy with myself. I gave everything I could but unfortunately I missed by a little bit the victory.
Q: It is a big disappointment with the difference in strategies?
RB: Well, it was a disappointment yesterday to have lost the pole position. But, you know you find energy, you put yourself up to the cage. I love the challenge as well and after I had the start I told myself everything is coming up again, so use your best knowledge and experience and speed. Everything was coming alive, so it is a disappointment not to have won the race today of course.
Q: And what was the tyre strategy and was there a big difference between the tyres?
RB: No, I left the hards to the very end, so I think everyone must have struggled a touch more with that. The first three sets they had a common, maybe my third set had three or four laps more if they did but not that it would have meant a problem. Otherwise we would not have gone for three stops. As Jenson said we were both on three stops and they changed the strategy for him. Good for him, good for the team as we both covered one and two but I would like to understand why we changed that.
Q: Mark, as you said, a long 31 lap second stint.
MW: Yeah, we knew it was going to be massive. We spoke about it this morning, if I was - not out of position, but we knew that I was one lap shorter than most of the people we were trying to race, i.e. Felipe was the main person we were trying to jump, it was going to be difficult to race these guys today in terms of track position and also stopping on a similar lap, so Felipe was our main target. Obviously that became true with Sebastian being stuck in his diffuser for most of the race. So switching to the mega, mega long middle stint was a crucial part of the race for us, to be able to get a little bit closer to Rubens and also jump a few guys, so it was a challenge. The car felt like it had a caravan on the back to start with but we got through that and then youve just got to keep knocking the laps in, even though it doesnt feel that quick. But I had Lewis and one of the BMWs were obviously light finishing their stints in front. I felt I cant even stay with these guys but you know how heavy you are, youre just trying to do your best and it worked out well for us. The pit stops were clean and all those little things that you obviously need to get results like this, so it worked out well for us.
Q: And then you were behind Rubens at the end but no chance of getting any closer.
MW: Its still quite tricky to follow cars in the quick stuff here. I was pretty keen to get as close as I could but on the other hand I just knew that the closer you get the risk just gets higher and higher and I wasnt that keen to drop it either, so we had a good result there and I just knew that you can get within 1.5s and then forget it, really. Around here its so tough.
Q: So thirds not too much of a boring afternoon for you!
MW: I have to say that of course I did say it was going to be a boring race when its dry but it looks like you had a bit of a spectacle in turn one with a few people having some problems down there but it turned out that with some different strategies and things like that, it looks like the race wasnt too bad. Its always a worry here, sometimes a Barcelona race can be incredibly boring but it looks like it was quite a good race, so its good for the people watching it. And it looks like a lot of journos enjoyed it today as well, lots of guys are here!
Q: Theyll all be listening to you next door.
MW: Ah, OK, well they can get their ar** in here. Its only a two minute walk, isnt it? Hi guys out there, wherever you are
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes PA) Jenson, well done again. At what stage in the race did you get the call that you were switching to two stops? Who do you have to thank for that call and what were your thoughts initially?
JB: Well, it was about a lap before I stopped. It was very, very late and I think they were judging the distance between me and Massa. And initially I didnt think it was a great idea because I wasnt sure who I was racing at that point. Rubens was obviously in front and I had Massa and Vettel behind and initially I thought maybe they were worried that I was not going to get out in front of Massa and Vettel, so they were going to send me long, so I could get them at the next stop but obviously that isnt what they were thinking and it was a very different situation to that. But when I first drove the car with a lot of fuel on board it was moving around quite a bit at the back and it took a while to find my feet but when I did well, I had to, as soon as possible. Shov (Andrew Shovlin, race engineer) was on the radio, my engineer, shouting at me youve got to put the laps in now, youve got to put the laps in now. And then closer and closer to Rubenss second stop they were telling me Rubens has got a three second advantage over you, youve got to keep pushing. Every lap was flat out, Ive never driven in that style before and Im sure when you watch it back on replay it looks pretty messy but it was the best way to get the lap time out of the car. I got every tenth and everything out of that car that I could do today.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA) Who made that decision?
JB: I didnt ask.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) It was basically the same question to you also; who does the strategy in the team? Is it Ross or is it your race engineer?
RB: Its a group. Ross is involved. A group, we are together and this morning we decided that three stops was the way to go. We came straight here (after the race) but after this evening we are going to have a meeting again and then we have some answers.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Mark, what happened at the restart? (Fernando) Alonso almost jumped you.
MW: Yeah, I had a big moment out of the chicane at the restart and I lost the rear under power, so the momentum wasnt great onto the start/finish straight and Fernando got a good run on me. I waited for him to arrive and then I tried to send him to the outside but the pit lane arrived at the same time, so he went in there and then I gave him just enough room to get down the inside. Then I thought that I still need to get back past him, so immediately I tacked again down the inside and got the move done. If that didnt happen my race was destroyed, so I needed to risk quite a bit to do it and it happened.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Mark, youve always been fast around Monaco and this year you go there with a very quick car. What are your thoughts on that race?
MW: I think Monte Carlo is a very special track for all the drivers. Its obviously definitely on its own now. We have some other street circuits on the calendar like Valencia but theyre not exactly in the same boat in terms of the precision thats required. Its bumpy, theres obviously barriers everywhere, the track changes a lot over the course of the weekend, so its a real challenge for the drivers in the cockpit to nail and tame that circuit if you like, so thats one We have to enjoy all circuits. Its like a golfer, you cant like some courses and not others. We have to do our best at every track. Monaco has been reasonable to me in the past. Im looking forward to going there again in a few weeks. These guys got a few more points out of us again today, so we need to very, very quickly in the next three or four races, try to swing the momentum, otherwise the constructors will start to eke away from us.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Congratulations Jenson. Youve now won four out of five races. How hard is it for you to not start thinking about the championship because it looks to many of us that this could be a runaway season?
JB: I think it would be good if I believed that, in a way, but also I think that at this point of the season, as Ive said, you need to be aggressive and you need to fight for every single point. Theres no point hanging back and expecting it to happen. We need to be very aggressive and we need to get everything out of this car at every race we go to, as I keep saying. It might be getting boring for you guys but its just the way it is. This was an important victory for me, for sure, first victory back in Europe, five races in and a reasonably good lead now. Its a good feeling but Im not getting comfortable. Rubens is very quick and hes proved that this weekend, and also the Red Bulls, when they get it together theyve got good pace and obviously Mark and Sebastian are doing a great job. Sebastians been ahead of us twice now in the last two races, so if he gets a free shot, like Mark, hell be close to Mark. Its not easy and weve got to take every race as it comes and we are obviously going to look for a victory in every race that comes, so we need to be aggressive and have that style of racing, I think.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Jenson, you mentioned in the earlier press conference that you felt that the car is still ahead after this round of upgrades. Is that the case?
JB: If you look at the result you would say so but obviously Mark and Sebastian were both held up behind Massa and if they had free runs we dont know what would have happened. Im very surprised that Mark was able to sit on the back of Rubens. I think weve had very good weekends and this weekend you can say that our strategy was good, which it was probably Rubens will say more on one car than the other but I think when Red Bull have a clear shot at it and they do everything right, they are going to be competitive and we cant forget that and they are going to be on us in Monaco for sure.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, I remember the Austrian race a few years with Michael (Schumacher), early in the season, and you were stopped to allow him to win. Are you afraid that this could happen again, seeing that Jenson is winning so much and you are trying to score points and probably looking for a championship, that this might happen again with the team pushing more for Jenson and you covering his shoulders?
RB: Well, Im very experienced with that, and if that happens, I wont follow any team orders any more. Im making it clear now, so everybody knows.
JB: Im going to answer this a bit as well because this affects me. Our strategy said that a three stop was quicker, full stop.
RB: Its true, its much more different than it used to be at Ferrari. We have a much more friendly situation, so Im not sitting down on the side blaming this or that. The race was finished half an hour ago and thats the way it went. Theres no way Im going to be crying here and saying I should have done this or that. Its in the best interests of myself to learn what went wrong today because I had the ability to win the race but I didnt and this is a full stop. Jenson is on a flyer and hes doing very well. I think this weekend was really good for me because I worked quite hard on all the set-up and everything. We both learned to get better, were pushing each other very well. Theres a bit more pressure on my side, obviously, because hes won four races and Ive won nothing but Im there, Im working and I wont stop working. Im definitely raising my hands to the sky to give thanks because this is a great car. It was not long ago that people were putting flowers on my grave and saying thank you very much for your job and so on. So Im here, very much alive and happy and Im going to make it work. Its as it was some years ago but with a much more friendly atmosphere.
Q: (Druv Behl Auto Exchange, India) Jenson, you mentioned that you need to be aggressive and it looks messy with this years car to be quick. Ordinarily, messy, aggressive and Monaco wouldnt go very well together, so how will you approach the next race relative to years past?
JB: Well, I think you do need to be a bit more aggressive in Monaco. Obviously youve got the barriers as your limiting factor. As long as you stay off them youre fine but you cant pussyfoot round Monaco and thats why I think Rubens has always been pretty spectacular around Monaco, Mark also, so its going to be a tough weekend in Monaco, for sure, for myself, but I go there full of confidence that I can have a good weekend, but for sure its not going to be a boring Monaco Grand Prix. I think theres going to be a lot of very competitive people and I think you will see a very exciting qualifying, for sure, and I think the race could be interesting also.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Do you still see a challenge from Ferrari, McLaren and BMW the big teams or is it too late for a turnaround in terms of the championship?
JB: Well, its quite strange because BMW at the first race were competitive. You can say some of it is down to the strategy with the tyres but they did a good job. McLaren at the last race were surprisingly quick, the same with Ferrari here, in qualifying. Theyve had good races but they just havent had the consistency and I think that when youve started so far back compared to the competition, youre throwing things at the car and Im sure theyre putting lots of new parts on the car to improve it. Some might not work, some probably do work. Its a much easier position for us, obviously, at the front. We can really test the parts and make sure they really are an improvement before we put them on whereas Ferrari and McLaren need to put as much performance on the car as possible. But theyre both great teams and theyve both achieved so much in the past, as we all know. Theyve had tough years before, maybe not quite as tough but they will definitely bounce back. Theyre very strong teams. Well see them being competitive throughout the year, I think.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Does that question from the front there, that youre winning races because youre somehow being given better machinery or some advantage frustrate you? Does Rubens believe that?
JB: We both work very closely together within the team and its a very good atmosphere within the team. Were all here to win; it went my way today and it might go Rubenss way in Monaco and thats just the way it is. He had a problem in his stint and I didnt. I made it work and I won the race today but you know that can swing around at the next race and thats the way we go racing and thats the way racing should be and I think it has been, within most teams in Formula One. I dont ever want to go down that avenue of talking about that because its so far from the situation within our team.