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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren’s long-run pace promising 02 Nov 2012

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Jessica Michibata (JPN).
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012

Jenson Button seems to like the desert. For the past three years he’s been on the podium in Abu Dhabi - and Friday’s Yas Marina practice sessions suggested that he may well maintain that habit this weekend. Nobody knows better than Button how important that would be to McLaren’s constructors’ championship as they look to beat arch rivals Ferrari…

Q: Jenson, let’s start with last weekend: you did the fastest lap at the end of the race in New Delhi. How satisfying was that - and how promising for Sunday?
Jenson Button:
Let’s start with the fastest lap. It was fun because I didn’t really have anybody to chase. The previous two laps I had to save a bit of fuel and by doing so I was able to push a bit harder the next lap - and there you had it: fastest lap! (laughs)

Q: So you did take that away from Sebastian Vettel…
JB:
I am sure he doesn’t mind too much - he’s won the race…

Q: What does knowing that you can push to the max mean for this weekend? Will you have that competitive car that you want?
JB:
There is no reason why not. The last race was a bit strange, as the car was very quick on prime tyres but on the options it wasn’t at all. So we have been trying things today, but how good they are we will only know tomorrow afternoon. Here you have one of these new tracks that when you make a mistake you can run wide without damaging your car, so it’s not like Spa or Suzuka where every mistake can cost you dearly. But here it is also very different in terms of degradation: in India it was the front, here it’s the rear. That means that going for a one-stop strategy is much more difficult here - and also the balance of the car is significantly different. My feeling is that we could be more competitive here - I hope. At least that’s the feeling I have.

Q: It is one of the stranger races, as you start in the light and finish when it is almost dark. Is that a problem for you guys? Was that a problem today?
JB:
No, we are fine. There is the floodlight so it makes no difference. But what will make a difference is that FP1 and FP3 are in the heat and qualifying and the race are at a time when it has significantly cooled down, so you have to be very careful with the set-up.

Q: Was there anything today that left you scratching your head?
JB:
No, not really. The car is performing well, but of course the first couple of laps on the option tyres have been tricky. I wanted to do long runs today, as I missed out on that at the last race - and I have to say the long run was promising.

Q: You mentioned earlier that the tyres will be an important factor - so what is the key to getting it right this weekend?
JB:
Well, when it is getting dark and you have no sunlight heating up the track - we then have track temperature of 28 or 29 degrees, which is low for us wherever we are - it is tricky getting the tyres working. In qualifying we have to get the tyres working in three laps - that could be tricky. Degradation you really don’t know until you’ve started the race. For now I can say that the basic car is feeling better than the car we had in India. The afternoon went really well - and as it is the most important practice session, things do look promising.

Q: It looks slightly frustrating to have two practice sessions in conditions completely irrelevant for the race…
JB:
Well, that goes for all of us, so there is no benefit or disadvantage for anybody.

Q: You have always been on the podium here - will we see you up there again?
JB:
That is the aim. Top three would be a great result - and also important for the team. We need the points. (laughs) It is almost impossible to catch Red Bull, but to beat Ferrari in the constructors’ is very important.

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