Jenson Button Q&A: Rain could help McLaren 15 Mar 2013
There was no hiding the fact that McLaren were off the pace in Australia on Friday. Afterwards, Jenson Button admitted that achieving a top-ten grid slot on Saturday is looking tough, unless the unpredictable Melbourne weather comes to their aid
Q: Tell us about your feelings for this years season opener here in Melbourne.
Jenson Button: I am very excited to be back in action this weekend and Australia is always a great place to start a new season, as the fans here are very enthusiastic. The weather conditions are still a bit up in the air with the rain forecast for Saturday and possibly also for Sunday, and very cold as well, which is not exactly what we would have wanted for the tyres. Id rather drive on a dry track, where we know what we need to do.
Q: How crucial was this first practice day for the teams, not only to see where the others are, but also to get a first glance of how your own car works?
JB: During testing in Barcelona we had quite low temperatures, plus the track in Spain was very abrasive for the tyres, so over there I think we got a different reading of where the cars are. Here we already have a couple of new parts, which other teams also might have, so everyone is already moving forward. Tomorrow first thing we have to find out how long the tyres are lasting, and if they are not lasting long then you are very limited and comparison will be more difficult.
Q: Looking back at winter testing, what conclusions did the team draw compared to the year before?
JB: The field was very competitive, and people were doing times that we can only dream of at the moment. But things can always change when the conditions are different. Of course we want to start well, and we know that we need a package that can be developed further throughout the season. In general the last test was very positive for us, as we got the mileage done and have done a bit of set-up work. The year before we were a bit unsure about the pace of the car, which turned out to be very competitive. This year I think that we will not have that particular advantage. I hope, though, that we will have a stronger car than we had in testing with the mixed weather conditions here, as it was quite quick in the rain in Barcelona.
Q: Are you surprised by the results of the first two practice sessions of the season, with you P9 in practice one and P11 in practice two?
JB: There is still quite a lot of work to do for us. It felt a bit like last year, just a lot slower. It seems that from the balance point of view we have the same problem as we had last year. Generally I would be both surprised and happy if we were in the top ten in qualifying tomorrow. For sure it is not the place from which we would want to start a season, but all is not lost yet. McLaren is also very good in turning things around if times are bad, but it is not as bad as that. Tonight we will have a close look at the data that we have to understand where the car is, and respectively where we need to go with it. As a racing driver wherever you are on the grid you would always want more grip and more downforce, but clearly we have more areas that we have to take a closer look at. The positive thing that we are taking out of the two practice sessions is that the tyres are a lot more consistent than we thought they would be. So I assume that it will not be a four-pit stop race, but rather a two-stop race.
Q: Has anything changed for you with having a new team mate?
JB: Obviously Checo [Sergio Perez] didnt have as much time working with this team, but he is learning very quickly and he is very straightforward, and this is exactly what you need with a team mate. In my eyes he is a very down-to-earth character. For him personally I think it is a great opportunity to race for a team like McLaren. Of course we will be competitors on the circuit, but we will work very close together off the circuit, so this has worked out pretty well so far. He has put in a lot of effort in fitting into the team, and also spending a lot of time at the factory, as well as getting physically fit for this season.
Q: Do you feel more pressure this year to be the lead driver?
JB: Pressure, no; excitement, yes. I had this situation before in previous teams. It is very nice that your opinion is really important within a team, when it comes to the development direction of the car.
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