Jenson Button Q&A: Our rivals wont stand still, and neither will we 15 Jul 2010
Jenson Buttons British Grand Prix was a thrilling exercise in damage limitation. He may have started 14th on the grid, but a great start, improved race pace, and issues for his rivals saw him eventually cross the line in fourth. Although concerned about the success of upgrades introduced by other teams and disappointed the MP4-25 didnt take to its new blown diffuser at the British round, Button is certain McLaren can keep up with their competitors, as he explained to his official website...
Q: Would you have put money on finishing fourth on Saturday evening, after youd qualified 14th?
Jenson Button: Well I was pretty downbeat on Saturday night, just because you know that, in modern Formula One, when you start 14th, youre only really likely to just scrape into the points - and, even then, only if youre lucky. So I went into the race knowing that I had nothing to lose. I knew I was going to be aggressive at the start, and just see where it took me. As it happened, I got a decent getaway, pushed hard, managed to get past four cars, and was helped by Sebastian (Vettel) and Felipes (Massa) punctures to make up six places. After that, I knew I was in with a shot at some decent points. The retirement of Robert (Kubica) and Fernandos (Alonso) drive-through also helped. I think I could have even been in with a shot at the podium, but I was stuck behind Michaels (Schumacher) car for much of my first stint, and I lost ground. Im disappointed not to have been on the podium, because Id have liked to have given the home fans something extra to cheer about, but I cant complain. I only lost six points to Lewis (Hamilton) in the championship, and that on a weekend which, on Saturday evening, didnt look like being too kind to me. So no complaints.
Q: A great result, then, but are you concerned of the growing pace of the cars around you?
JB: I am, yeah. Weve seen since the start of the season that the Red Bull has been the car to beat. Ive won a couple of races, and so has Lewis, and you could say that, for a few races at least, we perhaps had the quickest race pace, and we were able to make the most of that. But Valencia showed us that the opposition never stands still. And a number of teams showed up with some significant upgrades, and even if the results didnt necessarily show it, we became aware of their intent. We saw ourselves at Silverstone, that its not easy to arrive at a track and simply switch on a new package - it requires quite a bit of effort - so I think over the next few races, were going to see a lot of the top teams further fine-tuning their refinements. So we cant afford to stand still. And were not. I think weve perhaps punched above our weight at the last two races - which is great for us - but were not standing still. At the moment, were hopeful of taking the blown diffuser to Hockenheim to run it on Friday. We learnt quite a bit about it from the days testing at Silverstone, and I hope well be in a position to get it working more effectively at the German Grand Prix.
Q: What was the issue with the blown floor on the Friday at Silverstone?
JB: Its one of those things where, perhaps, you go into it feeling optimistic that it will deliver the required performance step, but, in reality, its more complicated than that. At Silverstone, we had the added complication of a new track configuration that wed never driven on before. And it was also very, very bumpy, which didnt help us quickly fine-tune the set-up of the car. On Friday, we struggled to make the car feel nice - it was just unpredictable and difficult to feel comfortable in. That could have been a set-up issue, but Lewis was reporting exactly the same issues from the other side of the garage, so it quickly became apparent that it wasnt an individual problem, it was something affecting both cars. Was it the right decision to go back to the old floor? It was a tough decision, but youve got to look at the result we got on Sunday to say that we made the right call.
Q: The British Grand Prix is always a busy one for the drivers, but the weekend was a pretty hectic one for the team in the garage too, wasnt it?
JB: Lewis and I are working for the whole week leading up to the race. Which is hectic, yeah, but its fun, and we meet some great people and do some really worthwhile things, like visiting Great Ormond Street childrens hospital. But at Silverstone last weekend, Ive never seen such an amazing team effort from all the guys. Not only did they work like crazy to get the upgrades onto the cars for Friday morning - which is a massive effort, because youre changing pretty much the whole back-end. But then they had to do the opposite after Friday practice, and revert back to the original rear floor. And for Gary (Paffett) to step in at the last minute, head back to MTC and spend Friday night working on set-ups for Silverstone using the original floor configuration, well I think that shows how well we work as a team. And we scored 30 points on Sunday, which was amazing.