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Jenson Button Q&A: Keyword is 'controlled aggression' 24 Sep 2010

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with Jessica Michibata (JPN). 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010

After something of a midseason lull in performance, Jenson Button’s recent podium in Monza confirmed that he has no intention of giving up his drivers’ crown without a fight. The McLaren driver’s strong form continued in Singapore on Friday, as he finished ‘best of the rest’ behind the Red Bulls…

Q: Jenson, you must come here with strong self-confidence after the podium in Monza, but this track will really put your car to the test, returning to a high-downforce circuit…
Jenson Button:
This track here is definitely a higher downforce track than the previous two, and on these kinds of tracks the Red Bulls and the Ferraris have been very strong so this race is really a test for us to see where we are. It has been a quite bumpy track in the past so we have done a lot of work to improve our car on the bumps. Our car is also aerodynamically stronger coming here. I think the team has done a great job to improve the car - throwing everything they can at it. We have improvements here and also in Suzuka - actually we will have improvements all the way to the end of the season. I hope Lewis (Hamilton) and myself will have a great weekend and have good results.

Q: Good results are one thing, but can you win this race and the championship on pure pace?
JB:
Well, the championship definitely will be won by pure pace and obviously the strategy will come into it, as you cannot win a race without strategy. Pure pace is important and we hope to be as quick as the Ferraris and Red Bulls here. At least that has to be our aim for this weekend.

Q: What did you learn from today’s running for qualifying and the race?
JB:
That it doesn’t dry here very quickly and that there is a lot of water coming up through the circuit, so it’s pretty tricky out there. So hopefully we will not have more rain this weekend, as these conditions are not really the nicest to drive in. The car is working pretty well so let’s take it from there. At the moment the Red Bulls look crazy quick so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.

Q: The team says that you and Lewis will run equally. Does that mean Felipe Massa could be a problem, as he can take points away from you even though he’s not a true title contender...
JB:
Yes, but you also can use him as he can take away points from other people too, so racing with him can also be positive. First of all he has to be quick - keeping up with the pace of Fernando (Alonso) to actually help Fernando - that is what happens in certain teams in Formula One. For us, we are fighting until the end, Lewis and myself, and I think that is what is also happening at Red Bull. And that is how it should be. What we all need to have is a competitive car - otherwise you don’t fight for the championship.

Q: With the title fight getting tougher and tougher, how important has qualifying become?
JB:
It is definitely very important. I had some great qualifyings myself this season, but it also has been a weakness in some of the races so I have spent a lot of work on it in the simulator, and also to find a balance that suits me on low fuel. So yes, qualifying is important, but you pick up the points on Sunday. This championship will be won by consistency: finishing races through reliability, but also finishing on the podium. You have to finish in front of the other four competitors and to do so you pretty much have to finish on the podium at every race - preferably on the top spot if you want to finish this season on the top spot.

Q: What do you like about this Singapore track? Racing at night?
JB:
It is a great atmosphere here. Formula One is taking over the city for this one weekend and the fans are very passionate about racing. It is very special to go on the formation lap and see all the camera flashes from the full grandstands in the dark. It is a fun circuit but it’s quite bumpy. But probably that adds to it. In fact it is a tough circuit to get right and it is a rewarding circuit if you do a good lap.

Q: There are five guys who still can win the title. You are the reigning champion. How are you, Jenson Button, going to win the 2010 title?
JB:
Probably like all the other four: by trying to score more points than the others. So there is no magic formula to it. Sorry!

Q: Last season you more or less just had to finish the races. This season you definitely have to beat the other four. How is your mindset about that?
JB:
Well, last year was a great season for me, but I also had a lot of pressure on me towards the end of the season because I knew that my car was not as competitive compared to other teams. So yes, that was a lot of pressure to find one or two points here and there. This season I have to be much more aggressive - and that also means more fun. I really enjoyed Monza and I really enjoyed Spa, for as long as it lasted, and hopefully we can continue to be successful also here. I am a happy lad and really enjoy racing and that’s what I am going to do.

Q: You take the season race by race, but is it really possible not to think about the championship when you are in the fight?
JB:
Probably after the race you look at the points and think about the championship, but when you are in the car all you know is that you have to do a better job than the others and this means that you have to do it over the next five races. Yes, you do think about the championship, but you also have to keep your head down and do the best job that you can. What you cannot have from now on is a DNF, but you also have to be aggressive. The keyword is maybe ‘controlled aggression’. It is a fine line, but that is what makes it so exciting.

Q: If you had to pinpoint the advantage of the McLaren/Button package, what would it be?
JB:
I have been there before, the team has been there many times before, and we know how tough it can be. And the circuits coming up I really do enjoy and as a team we will produce really good packages for the races.

Q: Five races to go and five drivers still eligible: how do you feel about this situation?
JB:
It is hilarious. I think it was 1982 or 1983 when we last had such a situation and it feels good to be part of that. That five-horse race also shows that we’ve had a very good season so far. There’s only one driver who scored in both of the last two races - and that is Mark (Webber) - and he leads in the championship so that shows that consistency is important and we’ll work on this for the remaining races.

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