Exclusive interview - Hondas Jenson Button 12 Feb 2008
The past 12 months must have been difficult to swallow for Hondas Jenson Button. With the RA107s poor aero performance and lack of stability under braking to contend with, Button scored just six points in 2007, 50 less than his tally from the season before.
Over the winter, however, the Japanese squad have been hard at work, and with new team principal Ross Brawn now on board, the British driver is hopeful that it is only a matter of time before all the effort starts to pay off
Q: Jenson, you have been with Honda since 2003 and have seen many people come and go. In the short time he has been in charge, what has Ross Brawn managed to achieve?
Jenson Button: The changes that we have made to the team over the last six months were exactly what we needed to take us forward this year and Im confident that we have the right people, along with great support and resources from Honda, to achieve our targets. Ross arrived quite late in the design process of the RA108 so his focus has been on evaluating every area of the teams operation to ensure that all the right elements are in place for us to move forward. Im really enjoying working with Ross and it has been good to have him at the tests as he has so much experience to guide development.
Q: Where do you see the Honda team at the moment?
JB: We have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our targets and obviously things are not going to happen overnight, however we have some very good people at the team and I have every confidence that we will progress throughout the year.
Q: This season will be your sixth spent at Honda. Are you satisfied?
JB: I cant imagine a better team to be working with for my future F1 career.
Q: The car manufacturer Honda seems to be very patient when it comes to on-track success. Is the pressure to succeed increasing?
JB: The only pressure is the pressure we put on ourselves. We are all committed to building a successful team and the effort and hard work across the team is relentless.
Q: The tests have been difficult so far. Can you pinpoint any specific reasons for this?
JB: The RA108 is completely new which means we are starting from zero in terms of developing the set-up. We are also working on driveability as we adapt to the new ECU. These challenges were reflected in our speed at our debut test in Barcelona, especially on single fast laps, but our long-run consistency improved. We have a good basic car with new opportunities for aerodynamics and other areas and a clear plan for addressing any issues in the coming tests.
Q: Alexander Wurz has joined the team as test driver. When do you expect to see the fruits of his contribution? And in what areas do you think his input will be vital?
JB: Alex's feedback is obviously great as he has been in the sport for a long time - in different teams. He brings a lot of experience to the team and he is already making a good contribution.
Q: How do you feel about the 2008 car? Do you think you will be able to repeat your 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix victory driving it?
JB: We still have some important tests ahead so at this moment any answer would be a pure guess. But I am very confident that the development is moving in the right direction and that results are lurking around the corner.
Q: There are only left 30 days until the Melbourne race. What is the teams most urgent priority?
JB: As is the case every year, we will keep pushing hard in the remaining tests to ensure we arrive in Melbourne in the best possible position.
Q: What is your prediction for the first three flyaway races? Thumbs-up or thumbs-down?
JB: As always Ill approach the first three races in a positive frame of mind and Im hoping to see good reliability and improvements as the races progress.