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Jenson Button Q&A: Battling on after Spa's missed opportunity 02 Sep 2010

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Drama as Vettel tries to overtake Button but loses control of his car, puncturing the bodywork of the McLaren Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010

Last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix was a bittersweet affair for McLaren’s Jenson Button. Sweet because the MP4-25 was back in fine form for most of the weekend, but crushingly bitter because Button’s own hopes of a second-placed finish ended after Red Bull’s 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 didn’t help the Briton’s mood either. In an interview with his official website, Button reviews the Spa race and pledges to come back stronger at Monza…

Q: Let’s start with the inevitable - you’ve 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 haven’t 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 didn’t need to pass me at that point, and I wasn’t making his life difficult, so his car shouldn’t have been on such a knife-edge when he hit me. What’s most frustrating is that I’ve 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 doesn’t 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 anything’s still possible. But at this point in the season, you’ve got to take every point you can - and the incident in Spa certainly didn’t help.

Q: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed that you braked earlier than normal into the Bus Stop - is that right?
No, absolutely not. Obviously, I’d lost the floor-plate of one of my front wing endplates - and that was affecting the car’s balance - but I didn’t brake any earlier for the Bus Stop on the lap of the crash. I’d 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 that’s just common sense when you’re 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 I’d started applying the brakes - I’d travelled exactly the same distance on both laps. So to suggest I’d braked earlier wouldn’t be accurate.

Q: If you’d been able to continue, the race was looking positive, wasn’t it?
I was in second place. Okay, you could say it wasn’t 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 it’s 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 it’s a missed opportunity.

Q: Nonetheless, the team’s performance at Spa must be encouraging for the future, surely?
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 that’s all very positive. While Spa wasn’t a personal highlight for me, I think Lewis’s 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 we’re headed in the right direction for the rest of the championship. We know it won’t be easy, and that some circuits won’t favour our car as much as Spa, but we’re heading into the final six races in full-on battle mode. We know how to win and we want to keep winning.