Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren upgrades working well 23 Jul 2010
Friday at Hockenheim was not the best of days for McLaren, with the weather and Lewis Hamiltons crash making it tough for the team to accurately test their latest developments, including the blown floor and diffuser that were temporarily abandoned at Silverstone. It was left to Jenson Button to do the bulk of the running and the world champion came away quietly confident, even if he does admit beating Red Bull is still going to be tough this weekend
Q: Jenson, how did it go for you today?
Jenson Button: Well, in the morning it was pretty wet - I guess that didnt go unnoticed! We didnt have a very good set-up in then so we changed the car over the break and in the afternoon it felt much better than in the morning. I was much more happy with the balance of the car in the afternoon. The long-run pace is reasonable and I thought that we would have more issues with the tyres here - with graining - especially in the front. The car feels alright, but the Red Bulls and the Ferraris look pretty fast, though. Actually faster than we had expected - so we have to wait and see tomorrow. But we went on with our programme today and as Lewis (Hamilton) had problems in the morning I was busy in the afternoon to get through our run programme.
Q: We all know that Friday times dont mean a thing, but 15th was probably not what you were expecting
JB: Well, we were running first on low and high fuel - on low to see first of all if the options would last a lap, because we werent sure if it would, then we were running on high fuel to do long runs and did some rear wing comparisons and that was okay. It is always difficult to say something on a Friday - and indeed it is not our strong point anyway - so we need to see what we can do tomorrow.
Q: Which track to you prefer in Germany: Hockenheim or Nurburgring?
JB: I like Hockenheim. Its a great circuit and Ive done some great races here. If this weather stops and it gets sunny again - which I hope will happen tomorrow - we will have a good race here. A bit more set-up work and the car will be competitive here. I dont know if as quick as the Red Bulls or the Ferraris. Theyve set some blistering pace this afternoon.
Q: What is your feeling on the last few races and the championship so far?
JB: It was quite nice, even though I obviously would prefer to be one spot better. Starting the last years German Grand Prix I was (championship) leader, but I am pretty happy. I am only 12 points behind Lewis, which last year was about five points, as I always have to take it back to the old point system - I still don't understand the new one. I am in a pretty good position, considering were 10 races in, starting our 11th race - this is a nice place to be. Now is when it gets important - the next few races are very important for us as a team, starting with improving our performance here. Compared to the last couple of races I think we have done a great job. We got the best out of the package, but we really need to see an improvement here to fight with the Red Bulls. Me personally, I have to say that qualifying in the last two races hasn't been great, and this is something I do need to improve. I don't put pressure on myself, I am relaxed, but now its down to me and my engineers to make sure that I feel comfortable in the car going into qualifying, and if I am happy I perform very well. That is key to me, and whatever happens in the race, happens in the race, as I know our performance is good there.
Q: The atmosphere in your team is different to the one at your biggest rivals
Red Bull. What is the reason for this?
JB: Lewis and myself get on pretty well, and we also work together pretty well. We like to drive a very similar car, so the information that we share is key to our performances. Maybe it's just a play from the Red Bulls and they get on really well and they want us to feel as if we were in a better position. But whatever there is, either it makes them stronger or weaker, I don't know. What I know for sure is that they are driving a very quick car, and that is the car to beat at the moment.
Q: What can we expect from you at the German Grand Prix?
JB: Well, the upgrades - the new floor and diffuser - do work pretty well. But of course we also have to look at the data. I feel that we have better traction and if we can integrate all the new parts even better we can be fighting with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. I have to work to get the car to my liking in qualifying, so I have the confidence to push it, which I didn't have at Silverstone. I like this race track, and in the simulator the balance of the car was very good. I personally hope that it is going to be dry.
Q: Did you figure out what the problem in qualifying actually is - the tyres, the balance?
JB: In Valencia I clearly made a mistake, as I guess I would have been alongside Lewis on the grid if not. And at Silverstone it was the balance - I had a lot of oversteer in high speed corners, so it was very hard to balance it. So little things can make a big difference, especially if the tyres are not in the window of performance, and I don't want this to happen again. I am going to be working very hard this weekend to make sure the qualifying pace is there. But in the end I have to beat Lewis in the race, and not only in qualifying, as qualifying is not where the points are. Of course being in the front would make my life easier in the race. Still, Lewis is not the only one to beat - it's also the Red Bulls. If they keep their heads together, it will be very difficult to beat them. They still keep winning, but luckily it's a different driver each time.