Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren will be stronger in the race 27 Mar 2010
The pecking order in Bahrain suggested Red Bull and Ferrari were the clear frontrunners, with McLaren and Mercedes following in their wake. The performance of McLarens Jenson Button in Melbourne on Saturday, however, implies the British team are on the move, with Button set to start Sundays race from fourth ahead of Ferraris Felipe Massa
Q: On Friday you said that the car is improving, so how satisfied are you now?
Jenson Button: The car in the morning was not working as we expected - there was very low grip - but qualifying was good. I felt that the car didnt work so well in Q3, so I think the best lap we could have done was a 1m 24.4s. It is still half a second off the Red Bulls so there is a lot of time to find yet. We are not quite there. Of course it was an improvement from the last race where we were 1.1 seconds behind. We have now closed the gap to six-tenths. Yesterday when the car felt very good, I said that if we are out-qualified today the others must have a super car.
Q: Your team mate Lewis Hamilton obviously had a problem with the car. Do you know what it was?
JB: I dont know, youll have to speak to him, but I am guessing he didnt find the right balance with the car.
Q: Fourth on the grid. Does it make you smile?
JB: It does. In the morning it was really tough for us, as we didnt have enough grip compared to yesterday. It seems a lot of other cars had a lot more downforce because their straight speed was very good - too good in fact - and in qualifying you could see that. The last run in Q3 was a bit frustrating for me as I didnt have the good balance that I had in Q1 and Q2 and that probably cost me a tenth. I ran the prime tyres at the end of Q2 and changed to the options in Q3, so maybe that was a mistake. But in the end I know I couldnt be any further up the grid with what I had, so I am happy with the performance of the team this weekend. I think we still got the best out of the package that we have at the moment.
Q: Traffic and tyre temperatures seem to have been a massive issue on Saturday afternoon. How was it for you?
JB: It is a massive issue indeed. It is a fight really in Q1 to get a clear lap. You have a slow car in front of you so you slow down, but the guy behind you is on a quick lap so you mess up his lap and you are stuck. Its clearly an issue about having such a difference between the quick cars and the slow cars. On top of that this is a tricky track, so my guess is that it will work better in Malaysia as the track is a bit wider.
Q: You have out-qualified Lewis. Does that make you happy?
JB: Yes. Its my second race with the team and I am really happy with my performance over the weekend. I feel a lot more comfortable in the car here than I did in Bahrain. Of course there are still some things that Im finding different to what Im used to, but we are working on that. It is great to start from P4 and hopefully we can have a good race.
Q: What about the race?
JB: I dont know. All I can say is that I am very satisfied with what Ive done this weekend. Sure P4 is not where I want to be - I want to be on pole position - but I am reasonably satisfied with that. Our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, so that makes me convinced that a good points finish could be on the cards for me tomorrow. At least thats what Im aiming for.
Q: On the grid you are sandwiched between two Ferraris. Will it be difficult?
JB: No. We are good at finding our own space and to be honest Id rather be between the two Ferraris than behind them.
Q: Could you even finish on the podium?
JB: Who knows! But it definitely will be much more difficult than last year. If you look at our qualifying time, and our gap of some five-tenths to the three cars in front, you would say that its impossible. So all hope will rest on our better race pace with a heavy fuel load. My guess is that our car will be better tomorrow than the three cars in front.