Out to rain on Vettels parade - Q&A with Jenson Button 07 Oct 2011
With Ferrari having never quite got up to speed this year, and with his team mate Lewis Hamilton experiencing a trying season, its now left to McLarens Jenson Button to stop Sebastian Vettel lifting the drivers crown in Japan this weekend. The odds are heavily stacked against him, but on a track he loves in a country he loves, Button is in maximum attack mode
Q: Jenson, you have a very personal relationship with Japan - in Formula1.coms Formula One Fantasy format you (and Kamui Kobayashi) wished for a street race in Tokyo - so racing here must be very special
Jenson Button: Yes, it is. I am happy that we all came here and that the Japanese grand Prix is going ahead. Japan had a very difficult time - especially earlier in the year - so I hope that we can put on a great show and put a smile on the face of a lot of Japanese viewers.
Q: Obviously youve also put a smile on your own face by signing a new contract with McLaren. Do you think that this will be your last team?
JB: Well, when you think about your career and how long it will be, well, that changes year by year. I think that some drivers probably end their career too early, when they still have the hunger, but I must say that I am in a lucky position, going on doing something I love and Im not going to stop that for a long time. I am very happy with the deal that weve done - I think it is a very fair deal for the team and for myself - and I think we can have a good few years together. We will continue to work hard together to be able to challenge Red Bull - and my plan is to start right here this weekend! (laughs)
Q: The contract is for how many years?
JB: Ah, more than one. Thats why its called multiple! (laughs)
Q: McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that youre one of the best drivers hes ever worked with. Does that silence the critics who were there when you joined McLaren?
JB: I dont think in that direction, as it would mean looking back. I think about the future and where were going from here. I am very happy with life at the moment - and with my racing and my working together with McLaren - so I felt that it was a good choice to stay on.
Q: You will again drive alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2012. Do you have any sympathy for him as hes had quite a tough time lately?
JB: I think when youve been a world champion and youre very fast and drive for a top team, people get on your back when sometimes things dont go so well. Thats the way it is. I agree its not the easiest of situations for anyone to be in, but as a driver Lewis is very strong - he also won two races this year - so, for sure, nobody is slowing him down.
Q: This is your tenth time driving in Japan. You have always finished the race, but as I remember it have only made the podium once. Will you change this on Sunday - as much could depend on it?
JB: Yeah, I think it was only one time, or maximum two, that Ive been on the podium here in Japan. And I definitely havent been on the top of the podium - thats still missing - so be sure Ill do my best. I love this track and Ive completed every single lap here. It is a very demanding track - demanding for us drivers - and it would be fantastic to win here. At least that is my aim.
Q: There was the question of whether DRS should be used here at Suzuka. How gutsy do you have to be to use it on this track?
JB: I used it - and it is possible. But never forget there are different types of DRS. Some are more effective than others - and I think that here ours is very effective. And we need anything around here this weekend.
Q: The DRS zone is on the main straight. Can you really overtake others there and into the first corner?
JB: Yes. Even in normal years you could overtake here if your car and tyres were in excellent condition, but now that we have KERS I think that it will play quite a big part. My guess is that we will see some quite good overtaking here.
Q: You are the only driver who can stop Sebastian Vettel winning the title - so what are going to do?
JB: Pay a lot of drivers a lot of money to get rid of him for me! And then I have to win every single remaining race. (laughs) Does that sound like a good plan? But lets be serious: Sebastian has done a fantastic job this season so he fully deserves the title. But of course it would be nice to take it to another race. And thats what I am aiming for this weekend. A little rain on his parade - and a win for me - that would make my weekend! But even if I should win here my guess is that it would be a bit overshadowed by Sebastians title win. But crossing the line first here, that win would be a massive feeling, and from what weve seen today the odds are not that bleak! The car feels fantastic and even if the times dont say much, that feeling of confidence in your car lets us hope for more tomorrow in qualifying and hopefully on Sunday in the race. Fingers crossed
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