Q&A with McLarens Jenson Button 16 Mar 2012
Clocking the fastest time in an opening Friday practice session may not be particularly meaningful, but it is a great way to start a season. The unpredictable Melbourne weather is still leaving everybody guessing as to who is hot and who is not, but a driver like Jenson Button must have some ideas - even if its only that he feels comfortable in his McLaren MP4-27...
Q: It is the start of the 2012season. What are your emotions about this upcoming race?
Jenson Button: We love coming here to Melbourne - and not only because it is the start of the season and we have finished our hard winter testing. Although we still do not know where we are in terms of performance, Albert Park is a great circuit with a great atmosphere.
Q: Did you finish your winter testing feeling relieved - and are you happy with where you left off?
JB: You always want more laps in testing, and you want more time to set up the car. I did not get as much time on the new car as Id like, especially on the downforce package, but it is all working correctly and I am happy with what we did and in terms of laps. Our reliability has been very good so far. This winter testing has been very difficult. It was not really possible to figure out where people stand and there are a lot of quick cars out there, which hopefully will make for an exciting first race.
Q: There are six world champions on the grid. Is that something that matters to you in any way?
JB: I am sure all six of us want another title. It is good to have such a competitive field, and also some drivers that havent got a world championship title yet are great to race against. The talent in Formula One is immense, also amongst the teams. There are a lot of competitive teams who are doing a great job, and I am personally happy that Formula One is looking that strong.
Q: What is the goal for the Australian Grand Prix?
JB: Of course, for every team it is important to have a good start into the season. For a racing driver it is more important to win, as this is my aim at every race. For us as a team we have the target of getting some good points here. There is not only the Red Bulls that are strong; there are also Mercedes, the Lotus and also the Saubers. But at the end what matters is who is able to hold the strength together for the whole year. We came here with very good results from the winter testing, but also the other teams had very good results during their long runs and looked very quick.
Q: The weather is looking to play some tricks here in Melbourne. How frustrated have you been today?
JB: Today it was as predicted, and of course we would have wanted to put more laps in - but that must go for all of us. So we are looking forward to tomorrow as it should be dry - and hope for a dry race on Sunday. We all know that the Melbourne weather can be unpredictable, so you really never know what is going to happen. But on the other hand we have seen some fantastic racing here with the grid being turned upside down, so it is also about being ready for every eventuality. Today in the morning we did some set-up work - at least a little bit - and in the afternoon we tried to find out how the car reacts with wet tyres. We have gained some very useful information, but lets hope that we will not need them! (laughs)
Q: How different does the car feel here compared to the last test?
JB: Obviously it feels very different. It was said a hundred times before: this race-track is rather unusual, so it is difficult to compare it with all the information we have gained in Barcelona. The layout is completely different - and the average speed of the corners is much lower. The car feels good for me - but we also know that we have to improve the car for the race. But thats a normal situation on a Friday. We will sit down and have a lot of discussions tonight to decide which direction we go in in terms of strategy with the tyres.
Q: You did the fastest lap of the first session of this season. Did that go down well?
JB: It did, even if we know that it was only Friday morning. You like to be first rather than last! I am reasonably happy.
Q: During the test season everybody tells you to wait until Melbourne to see who has really done their homework over the winter. Now we are in Melbourne, where do you see the strongest competition?
JB: I would say those who have been fast last year will be fast this season - and those are who you need to beat. Mercedes seems to be competitive as well, but with this limited running today the winter test saying is still valid: wait until the first qualifying to know who is fast - and wait until Sunday to know who has a race-winning car.
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