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Jenson Button Q&A: Monaco win a real possibility 25 May 2011

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 25 May 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 22 May 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrates his third position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 22 May 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 looks at FanVision.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 6 May 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 22 May 2011

Seeing Jenson Button back on the podium in Spain last weekend, the relief on his face was obvious - it had been a while. McLaren may not yet have the speed to challenge Red Bull in qualifying, but on race pace it’s a different story. Now they just need to translate that into victory - and Button is ready to do just that here in Monaco…

Q: Jenson, driving a Formula One car here in Monaco from a logical point of view seems impossible. Can you describe in simple words how it is moving in a car on full throttle just millimetres from the barriers?
Jenson Button:
No. Even explaining what we do in the car and how it feels to drive a Formula One car on a normal circuit is almost impossible, so I am not going to try any explanation. When you’re in the cockpit you feel it - and an outsider will never ever understand what an impact one lap in Monaco has, let alone a whole race. Not even the on-board camera can remotely give an idea because you don’t get the speed.

Q: You won here in 2009. Is a victory here really something so special, or do you rather see this race as a sort of anachronism?
Believe me, it is still something very, very special - and always will be. You cannot change the Monaco Grand Prix - the track is almost unchanged since it was first held. Only the massive security has been added. It will always have a special place in the calendar for me. To finish a race here is already difficult, but to win here is the ultimate challenge. But when you do, you’re celebrating with everyone here - the people on the yachts, in on the grandstands, the people on the balconies - everyone is part of your victory celebration. On top of that it is almost my home Grand Prix as I’ve lived her for almost a decade, so these streets are part of my life - with or without the grandstands.

Q: Could this Sunday be your first real chance this season to win a race?
Probably. The slightest mistake and you’re done, so anything can happen here. Mechanically we are very strong, so let’s wait and see.

Q: Coming back to last weekend, McLaren have shown that they truly are the second force on the grid - and maybe more…
Yes, it was a good race for us - and we are changing at every race that we go to. Okay, Turkey was a bit of a dip in form but Barcelona made truly good on that. Lewis (Hamilton) and I had a pretty good race - Lewis was able to push Sebastian (Vettel) for most of the race. So, yes, it was a good race. But of course there is always something more to find. We will have a little bit of an update here so I think we really can take the fight to Sebastian and Mark (Webber).

Q: What is the biggest issue right now? Qualifying?
A better qualifying comes with having more downforce. But I don’t know what Red Bull is doing as they’ve been one second quicker than us. I think to qualify in front of them will probably take us five races because to make good one second is a hell of a lap time. But our race speed is good - and it is there where we really challenge them at the moment.

Q: Aside from that, tyre strategy seems to be the keyword of the season. How much can you influence the strategy from the cockpit?
You can have an influence, but the team has the final say when it comes to the final decision because they know exactly what is going on, as they have a better overview of what strategy others are running and where you are on the circuit - and where everyone else is. If you say the tyres are finished you give them this information, but they are the guys who know when you pit where you feed back in. We give them as much information as possible - and in Barcelona we got it perfectly right, running on a three-stop strategy.

Q: Isn’t the normal procedure that you agree a strategy before you go into the race, but that often real time racing forces a change? How does that affect you in the cockpit?
Well, we haven’t changed the strategy during the race for the last two races when everyone else has - going from a three- to a four-stop strategy. Actually I was a bit surprised seeing them pitting four times.

Q: What makes you convinced that you are still in the race for the title?
That we’ve only done five races and that there are at the moment 14 more to go!

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