Jenson Button Q&A: Battling on after Spa's missed opportunity 02 Sep 2010
Last weekends Belgian Grand Prix was a bittersweet affair for McLarens Jenson Button. Sweet because the MP4-25 was back in fine form for most of the weekend, but crushingly bitter because Buttons own hopes of a second-placed finish ended after Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel collided with him following a misjudged overtaking manoeuvre. Forced to watch team mate Lewis Hamilton clinch an outstanding victory and the standings lead as his own title hopes diminished didnt help the Britons mood either. In an interview with his official website, Button reviews the Spa race and pledges to come back stronger at Monza
Q: Lets start with the inevitable - youve had several days to think about it, so what are your thoughts on the accident that took you out of the race?
Jenson Button: My thoughts havent really changed, to be honest. At the time, I was pretty confused by what Sebastian did. Now, I still think what he did was completely unnecessary - he didnt need to pass me at that point, and I wasnt making his life difficult, so his car shouldnt have been on such a knife-edge when he hit me. Whats most frustrating is that Ive lost out on a good handful of championship points at a time when neither Sebastian or Fernando (Alonso) were able to score. I know there are 150 points still up for grabs, but it doesnt help to now be 35 points behind Lewis (Hamilton). On a more positive note, under the old points system, that would still only be about 15 points, so anythings still possible. But at this point in the season, youve got to take every point you can - and the incident in Spa certainly didnt help.
Q: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed that you braked earlier than normal into the Bus Stop - is that right?
JB: No, absolutely not. Obviously, Id lost the floor-plate of one of my front wing endplates - and that was affecting the cars balance - but I didnt brake any earlier for the Bus Stop on the lap of the crash. Id had to crank more front wing in to help the handling, and that had made the back-end a bit more skittish, so I was just driving carefully. I knew I still had good straight-line speed, so I was concentrating on getting into the slower corners cleanly, so that I could maximise my traction at the exit and maintain the gap along the straights. But thats just common sense when youre racing. After the race, I actually checked the data with my race engineer, and it shows that I braked at exactly the same point on the lap before the collision. We even looked at the braking profile, and that also showed that, at the point of impact - about 1.5s after Id started applying the brakes - Id travelled exactly the same distance on both laps. So to suggest Id braked earlier wouldnt be accurate.
Q: If youd been able to continue, the race was looking positive, wasnt it?
JB: I was in second place. Okay, you could say it wasnt a comfortable second because I had the slight issue with the endplate, which was slowing me down, but you look at the results and two cars that were running behind me before I retired both finished on the podium. So I think its realistic to say that I could have been on the podium on Sunday. And I knew I would have been strong in the closing laps of the race, too. We had a car that was working perfectly in the greasy conditions, and I think I would only have been stronger when the rain started to fall again. So its a missed opportunity.
Q: Nonetheless, the teams performance at Spa must be encouraging for the future, surely?
JB: We were very pleased with our performance. We were on the pace for the whole weekend, and we had one of the fastest cars - probably the fastest car in mixed conditions, so thats all very positive. While Spa wasnt a personal highlight for me, I think Lewiss win came at exactly the right time for the whole team - Hungary was probably the low point of our season, so to be able to bounce back so strongly will have given the team the assurance that were headed in the right direction for the rest of the championship. We know it wont be easy, and that some circuits wont favour our car as much as Spa, but were heading into the final six races in full-on battle mode. We know how to win and we want to keep winning.