Jenson Button Q&A: Victories the priority, not P2 in table 11 Nov 2011
He may not be the 2011 champion, but he is one of the undoubted kings of the paddock - suave, polite and affable out of the cockpit, but hard as nails once in it - and without incurring driver penalties. McLarens Jenson Button could well finish runner-up this season, but his main concern right now is winning in Abu Dhabi - and Fridays form suggests he may well do just that
Q: Jenson, we are here for the third time now, so what do you think about the facilities at the Yas Marina Circuit?
Jenson Button: The facility has always been good, and now even the details have improved. As from last year we know that the track is very good, but it was not one of the most exciting races in the calendar. This year we have many changes in terms of tyres, DRS and KERS and that gives us the opportunity to put on a great show, as this is a spectacular venue.
Q: These changes that you have mentioned, will they enable you and the other drivers to perform a lot of overtaking, especially with the double DRS zone?
JB: I already think that one DRS zone would do the trick here. Remember last year, when Fernando (Alonso) in a very competitive Ferrari was just not able to get past Petrov, whose Renault was not quite competitive. So the DRS should enable us to get close to the car in front and dive past from the inside of the hairpin. But you have to judge this right, as you might be overtaken back very quickly and end up behind for another lap. It is not as simple as it may look. I am not too sure if the second DRS zone will bring that much, but for sure the first will be the real kick and make a big difference. I always enjoyed driving here, and also the fact that it is a day-to-night race is something unusual and for me it is big fun. There are so many parts of the circuit where it is kind of a stop-start situation, and the exciting bit is that a Formula One car accelerates so fast that you really get the sensation of speed. Of course it is not quite like in Monaco, but it is very nice to drive. And of course I hope that I can do two better than last year, and one better than in India. That really should make my weekend. (laughs)
Q: How do you feel about the number of races that are planned for next year? Do you think you might get burned out?
JB: For us drivers I think it would be okay, as we love racing and therefore the more races the better. But for the mechanics and engineers it means being non-stop on the road, and they do not have big opportunities to go home to their families. So in this respect I would say that 20 races is enough. Anything more than that would be too much, as these guys are here when we arrive in the morning and they are here when we leave in the evening and I think that they are working a lot harder than us, and they do deserve a break sometimes.
Q: What is your opinion on the race stewards and how they give out penalties?
JB: You dont get penalties if you dont crash into people. Its that simple!
Q: You have pressured Sebastian Vettel, you have tried to undercut him, to beat him basically in any way you can, but he seems just a bit too strong. How do you think you and McLaren can beat him?
JB: We have been looking at that from every possible angle, trust me. (laughs) But still we couldnt find the answer to this. Its going to be tricky. We had a great weekend in India, and on Sunday we didnt do anything wrong, as we had a great race. The in- and out-laps were our best, where we made around two seconds on Sebastian. We just did not have the right pace during the rest of the race. Also our pit stops were very good. Weve just got to find a slightly better set-up for this race, as also this circuit suits our car a little bit more. We are really so close to challenging them and pushing them in the race. So far we just couldnt get close enough. 2.8 seconds is the closest we could get. But maybe this weekend is a turning point. And from what weve seen today in both sessions it looks very promising, so lets hope that it keeps that way for the whole weekend.
Q: So what will the real challenge be for the last two races? To secure second in the standings?
JB: It is a bit early to say, as the race is still ahead. Of course Id like to finish second in the championship. Still my aim for the next two races is to fight for the win, and this is much more exciting than to finish second - winning a race gets you a bigger trophy than the one you get when you finish second in the championship! (laughs)
Q: You have raced under some of the most iconic team principals/team owners. What in your eyes makes the perfect team principal?
JB: From my point of view it is very important that the team principal is respected by everyone in the team, not just myself. It is so important that the team believes in the head man. I think this person should really get involved, and really work closely with the engineers and mechanics as well, and doesnt just look on from afar. For me the one that noticeably made a difference was when Ross Brawn arrived at Honda. Suddenly people thought that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We really found our direction back then, and knew that there is a proper leader. He made a massive difference just by walking into the room.
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