Good to be home - Button on the British Grand Prix 30 Jun 2008
Ahead of his home race this weekend, Honda star Jenson Button chats about what makes Silverstone special, about his new helmet design, the state of his Formula One career and his newly-acquired love of triathlons
On his home race:
This weekends British Grand Prix will be Button's ninth Formula One outing at Silverstone. His best result is fourth in 2004, and he has finished in the points on three other occasions. Button has started on the front row once, in 2005.
Q: Are you looking forward to racing at Silverstone?
Jenson Button: I always look forward to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone as it's my home race and therefore a very special weekend for me. I love the layout of the track because it's very fast and flowing, and I have a lot of good memories from when I used to spectate at the British Grand Prix as a boy.
Q: How much of a lift does the home support give you?
JB: The fans are great and I love seeing all the Union Jacks in the grandstands. But it's also a bit frustrating at the moment because I want to give them better results than I'm currently able to. The Honda Racing F1 Team's headquarters is located only seven miles from the track, so there will be a lot of people from the factory supporting us there. With the race selling-out on all three days, there will be a fantastic atmosphere.
Q: What's your favourite corner at Silverstone?
JB: The Becketts complex is my favourite combination of corners in the world. You enter it flat-out in seventh gear, so the speeds are extremely high, and you have to be very precise with your line. The change of direction that you carry through there is just mind-blowing. When you get this section right, you come out with the biggest smile on your face. It's a fantastic place to watch the race from.
Q: Why are you using a new helmet design for the British Grand Prix?
JB: I recently ran a competition on my website, www.jensonbutton.com, in which I asked fans to design my helmet colour scheme for Silverstone. We had a staggering 7055 entries and I've opted for the design by Aries Janssens from Denbighshire in the UK, which I'll unveil on Thursday at the track. What I like about Aries' design is that it's very British and very me. By very me, I mean very patriotic. His design incorporates my logo and my name, and the 'o' in Jenson is a Union Jack button. Good work, Aries!
On his motor racing career:
This is Buttons ninth season in Formula One. He has driven for Williams
(2000), Benetton (2001-2002), BAR-Honda (2003 - 2005) and Honda (2006-2008). In that time he has contested 143 races, from which he's taken one win, four second places and 10 third places. He has started from pole position three times and led a total of 124 laps.
Q: Where are you at in your career?
JB: Firstly I'm in Formula One and that is every driver's primary goal. Beyond that it's a question of where you are in F1, whether you're in a good team and whether you have the experience to challenge for the world championship. I'm only 28 years old, yet this is already my ninth year in F1 so I have the necessary experience to win the title. I haven't got the car underneath me to do that at the moment, but that will come.
Q: What are you doing to improve the performance of this year's car?
JB: I tell the team exactly how it performs on the track, where it's weak and where it's strong. I'm working much harder now than I did in 2004, when I finished third in the world championship, because that's what you have to do to get back to the front. I make sure that the team are making the changes that need to be made.
Q: When you know you can't challenge for wins, what's your motivation?
JB: I love what I do, so I have no problems with motivation. It isn't nice knowing that I'm going into the British Grand Prix without a realistic chance of battling at the front, but when I'm in the car I push 110 percent. That's what I do every time I get in the car; it's what I have to do to drive the team forward and ahead of what will be a better year in 2009.
On his fitness:
The cockpit of a Formula One car is one of the harshest environments in sport. Temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius and the drivers often pull 5G while braking and cornering. Button understands the physical and psychological benefits that come with being as fit as possible, which is why he's one of the best-prepared drivers on the grid.
Ahead of each season he heads to Club La Santa on the island of Lanzarote for several intensive training camps, at which he cycles, runs, swims and weight trains. And this year, for the first time, he has combined all of those disciplines to contest in the demanding event of triathlon. In his first event, the Sevenoaks Sprint Triathlon (400m swim, 27km bike, 8km run) earlier this year, Button finished 16th out of 250 starters; in the second, the recent Windsor Triathlon - his first Olympic distance event (1500m swim, 43km bike, 10km run) - he came home an impressive 117th out of 1700.
Q: Why have you taken up triathlons?
JB: I like the pain and I like pushing my body to the limit. I also enjoy the fact that there's nobody else involved. It's just me on my own and if I'm not quick enough, then it's solely down to me The Windsor triathlon earlier this month was a big event; there were a lot of spectators lining the route and it felt weird to hear people shouting my name because I've normally got a helmet on and can only hear the engine noise!
Q: Which of the three triathlon disciplines is your strongest?
JB: At Windsor, I'd say the swim was my best. It was 1500m in the River Thames and at the end I was in 90th position out of the 1700 entrants. I've done a lot of swimming since I was a boy and one of the reasons I enjoy it is because it's all about technique. I've developed my own style over the years, although I'm told that I still don't roll enough in the water.
Q: What benefits do the triathlons give you in the cockpit?
JB: The main benefit from the multi-discipline triathlon event is overall fitness. The bike is particularly good because you build up lactic acid, which is what happens in the car, due to the vibrations. Swimming is good for upper body strength and I also work my neck while I'm in the water. Triathlons are competition, which is what F1's all about, and knowing that I'm one of the fittest drivers on the grid makes me feel very strong psychologically.