Exclusive interview - Hondas Jenson Button 03 Oct 2007
Finding a solution to a problem is never easy especially when youre a Formula One team and your problem is a technical one. After a promising 2006, Honda - and Jenson Button - have hit a wall this season and last weekends race at the Fuji Speedway failed to improve matters.
Driver and team had wanted to put on a good show for their home fans but poor weather and a mulish car quickly put paid to any hopes. Only Saturdays seventh-place grid slot showed just what could be possible for Button and Honda if everything went their way. With just two races left to run, 2008 is now the only focus
Q: How would you describe your season so far? Is there anything positive or would you rather forget all about it?
Jenson Button: It was a tough season and of course it wasnt the season that we had expected. The car has not improved over the past few months - at least not as much as we needed it to. Obviously, we went the wrong direction aerodynamically, but that process probably started at the end of last year. So yes, its been a tough year - probably the toughest of my whole career. So all we can do is work as hard as we can and employ people to give fresh ideas. We have already started that process.
Q: This time last year things looked quite promising. What went wrong?
JB: In my view, it was the wrong ideas when it came to aerodynamics. We went in the wrong direction. But this is exactly what we are going to change now as a lot of the new people have realised that and the last test has really been a quest for new ideas.
Q: What is it that keeps the car at the back of the grid?
JB: We couldnt change the engine too much so we really have had to focus on aerodynamics. But it is not just about having as much downforce as possible, its about having useable downforce, which means you have downforce all the time, not only on the straight. But I can see we are entering a very exciting process.
Q: How disappointing is it to have only made it into Q3 on three occasions - in Monaco, Italy and Japan - and to have only scored two points?
JB: Yes, its tough. But honestly, entering Q3 really means nothing to me. If I am not able to qualify for pole or win a race it doesnt matter where you finish. Its all about learning from my mistakes - and looking forward
Q: You are at a crucial point in your career. Some fundamental changes need to be made - what do you think they are?
JB: Every stage in ones career is crucial. For example, Lewis (Hamilton) is very young, he hasnt had a lot of time in Formula One but wants to win the championship this year. But if he doesnt win, there might not be another possibility. In reality, everything is a question of possibilities. For us, yes 2007 was a pretty poor year and we only can hope that we will change the situation in 2008. Thats all we can do.
Q: Do you regret any decisions youve made in the past?
JB: No, never. Its done now, its behind you. Its about not making the same mistakes again. The same goes for the team as well as for every individual. If you make the same mistakes again, you are a fool. Its that simple. We should learn from our slips and become stronger.
Q: Does it annoy you having all these rookies in front of you, knowing you could easily challenge them if you had the right car?
JB: No, because nobody has only great years in his career. Some people are lucky when they arrive in Formula One and others really have to fight for it - being with a good team. But I am with a good team and we just have to make the best of what we have - and we havent done that yet. We have a lot of intelligent people and we just have to bring it altogether.
Q: Do you think your performance will improve over the last two races?
JB: No, I dont think so. To make the car a little bit quicker in the last two races would take away wind tunnel capacity for the development of next years car - that would not make sense. We will probably be a little faster in the races to come, but that is down to us at the track.
Q: How is the development of the 2008 car progressing?
JB: We are perfectly on track. But for me I am excited to start testing as it is not just aerodynamics that we have to improve but we have new systems, no traction control, nothing to help you on the braking. I am looking forward driving without traction control as I feel that it supports my style of driving and from what I have done so far the lap times look pretty promising.