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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren have made a massive step forward 26 Mar 2011

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren  with Hugo Boss designed overalls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 26 March 2011

After a pretty dismal showing at the pre-season tests, nobody expected McLaren to be in the running for front-row positions in Melbourne. But the MP4-26’s recent updates have undoubtedly paid off and Lewis Hamilton secured a well-deserved second on the grid. After a tricky Q3, Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button has to content himself with P4, but he’s feeling positive about his chances for Sunday’s race. And given that last season he converted a fourth-place grid slot in Australia into a race win, who can blame him? Button reviews his Saturday…

Q: Are you happy with your grid position? Are you where you expected to be?
Jenson Button:
I think we should be really happy about where we are. My Q3 was quite a mess. I got stuck behind Rosberg, and then Massa had a spin. Also my lap in Q2, which I didn’t complete, could have been much quicker. I didn’t get the maximum out of it, so therefore we should be very happy about where we are. We are also very happy with the package that we have here. It is a massive step forward to what we had in testing. So we should be very pleased about what the team have achieved. This car is still at a very early stage, as we have not done much testing this year. So for it to be reliable and reasonably quick it will still take some time.

Q: A lot of people seem to be having trouble getting the tyre temperatures up, what are your feelings on this?
JB:
Well, in Q3 it was, as I had other cars all over the place. I think we need maybe more temperature, as other teams do. I tried to get more heat into the tyres. But during qualifying conditions it is very tricky to get them on temperature, but in the race I think it should be fine. I think we will have a good race starting from fourth, as I did last year. Sebastian (Vettel) has put in a very good lap, but we still do not know what their race pace is going to be like. Also, with the tyres, there can be two to four stops from the teams, and I think that will be very exciting. We are very positive, and think that we can even challenge for a win here.

Q: Looking back on testing, you didn’t have the easiest time with the car and its reliability…
JB:
Yes, it has been a very tough winter for us as a team, as we did not have reliability and also not that much speed, which was very tricky. We came here with a new exhaust system that has been reliable since the first moment, and this is amazing. All the boys and girls back in the factory should be very proud of what they have achieved here today. Now the next stop is Red Bull. Even though, if you look at Sebastian’s time, we are still not in that league.

Q: Between practice and qualifying you changed quite a few settings on the car, were you able to tell the difference?
JB:
Yes, for me the car felt much better in qualifying. We were able to get a lot more front downforce into the car, which means you have a much more stable rear-end.

Q: The new regulations brought in several changes, not least Pirelli as tyre supplier and the moveable rear wing. Are you expecting a lot more overtaking during the race?
JB:
I hope that is true, at least a little bit, as I have got to get past three people. Also the tyres will play a big role in this race and we are all not very experienced with these tyres. We will see what the wing offers us. We have a very good and reliable KERS system, which is also quite important.

Q: If you look at the situation with Red Bull and Vettel, are you reminded of Brawn and yourself in 2009?
JB:
I didn’t have eight tenths on anyone. But yes, their pace is unbelievable. We are a little surprised that we are right behind them and have a little gap to the ones behind us. But having a gap of eight tenths on Lewis is a lot. Even if Sebastian had put together a very good lap, the gap is quite big. I think we have to forget where they are at the moment and just be happy about where we are.

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