A race weekend with Jenson Button 09 Jul 2008
Watching his team mate clinch Hondas first podium since 2006 while he sat on the sidelines following an early retirement was not the best way to spend his home Grand Prix. But thats just what Jenson Button did at Silverstone this weekend. Nonetheless, the British track remains a firm favourite with Button and it was there that we caught up with the English driver to find out how he likes to run his life over a typical race weekend...
Q: We were at Silverstone this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?
Jenson Button: I associate it with being my home Grand Prix and secondly that it is one of the old tracks - just like Spa. It is a real drivers track where driving is pure fun. Becketts is one of the best formations of corners where you really can show what you are made of. And then the crowd - all the fans are so enthusiastic! It is always a special weekend for me.
Q: You dont take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
JB: Well, if we are in Europe I mostly fly in on Thursday morning and head straight to the track, but if its a long haul flight I try to fly in a week before to acclimatise and get used to the time difference.
Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
JB: When we are in Europe it usually is the airport-track-hotel - or in my case motorhome - itinerary but when we are in Asia and I arrive one week earlier then I take up a bit of a tourist role. I take a bike to discover my surroundings, or jog through the neighbourhoods so I get an impression of where I am.
Q: Whats your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
JB: I dont really exercise over a race weekend, I just do some running, something in the range of 10 kilometres a day, but the real exercising is done in the time between the races. What you do on a race weekend is basically to loosen up.
Q: Whats your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
JB: I by far prefer the motorhome! I chose the bed, I choose whats in the fridge and its my DVD collection. I furnished it to accommodate my needs so its just a home away from home. But outside Europe I like nice city hotels, although the focus is of course on a reasonable vicinity to the track.
Q: Anything you have to have provided in your hotel room, or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
JB: When I am lodging in my motorhome it is equipped with everything that I need - to the smallest detail. When I am staying in a hotel, the usual things I take are my iPod and my computer. I like to chill out with my kind of music - not necessarily dolphin sounds - but something that relaxes me.
Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
JB: On a race weekend there is never really time to entertain friends and family as every day is packed full of action and commitments. But friends and family know that, so when they come to a race it is because they like racing and they like to see me driving. They understand that I am doing my job and that it takes priority.
Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialize on Friday and Saturday night?
JB: If I socialize then its usually on a Saturday evening because on Friday I usually stay quite long at the track to speak with the engineers because its the day when you can still change something on the car. When I leave the track I just have a quick dinner and go to sleep.
Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
JB: With DC (David Coulthard) - Im still upset that he announced his retirement. Its basically the motorhome guys - a small community at the Europeans races. But I also get along very well with Rubens (Barrichello) and Nico (Rosberg).
Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?
JB: Probably Montreal. And then, of course, Monaco as everybody stays on Sunday evening so there is always a lot of nightlife going on. But even Silverstone is great as you can commute to London for a fancy Sunday evening.
Q: Whats the best night out youve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
JB: It was probably the night out that I didnt have. After winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, I was flying out to China straight after the race so there was no partying, just letting victory sink in very quietly high up in the air. And as for oversleeping, never.
Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
JB: All kinds of cereals, fruits and juices. Nothing in particular - but nothing that is too heavy.
Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
JB: I usually start hydrating on Friday. My guess is that I drink three to four litres of fluid a day. Basically mineral drinks and water.
Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
JB: The morning of race Sunday is always pretty relaxed since we dont have the warm-up any more. You have a last talk with the engineers and you do a bit of media work. Around noon its getting pretty busy, first with the drivers parade and then the race preparation takes over until you drive out of the pits for your position on the grid. And then you wait for the green lights.
Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
JB: I usually drive myself. I also drove up to Silverstone from Heathrow all by myself.
Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
JB: I get a massage and hear some relaxing music. Then I dress up. Thats all. No rituals or anything of that kind. I am not superstitious.
Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
Q: What do you do to stay calm as youre sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
JB: I think Im a pretty calm guy so it doesnt need an extra effort to stay calm. Im not getting into the car with eyes wide open thinking, gee, what am I doing here. I always try to be prepared and that gives me self confidence.
Q: How do you wind down after the race?
JB: It depends how the race was!
Q: If things dont go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
JB: I always stay until the end of the race to do the debrief with the engineers, because unless you retire in the first lap you still have a lot of valuable information for the technical guys.