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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren definitely moving forward 12 Apr 2013

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren signs autographs for fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28 rear diffuser detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013

McLaren have endured a difficult start to the season, but arrived in Shanghai with several upgrades aimed at boosting the performance of their Mercedes-powered MP4-28. Jenson Button spoke to reporters after finishing in sixth position in each of the first two practice sessions in China...

Q: After a three-week break from racing, what expectations do you have for the race in China?
Jenson Button:
During the first two races we were pretty happy with the performance of the car, especially in Melbourne - and temporarily also in Malaysia - although it is clear that we are still not quick enough. These three weeks since Malaysia have really been good for us to analyse the data that we have collected in the first two races. We are here with a few new parts that hopefully will help us, not only here but also for the development in the future. Looking back to Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur we’ve been three to four tenths off the quick cars, and I am pretty sure that we can pull that back in a few races. Regarding this weekend, I am very much looking forward to the race on Sunday, as the car was really good to drive in Malaysia, even if that didn’t completely show today. There should be warmer conditions tomorrow and on Sunday so that should play a bit to our advantage.

Q: Does the nature of the circuit give you hope that this weekend will be better? You've struggled over the bumps and this is not one of the bumpiest circuits…
JB:
Yeah, although this circuit is generally quite smooth, there are still a few big bumps in the high-speed sectors and this is normally our issue. It sets it off and then it just doesn’t stop bouncing. But we will find out if we’ve got this problem under control or if it still continues. My personal feeling is that it will be a bit better, because of the aforementioned changes that we have made to the car in the past three weeks.

Q: So how was it today?
JB:
We did a lot of set-up work on the front tyres. I think everybody is facing massive graining at the front. There is almost a one and a half second difference between the two compounds and I guess nobody was expecting that big gap. It is also a huge difference with the balance - it’s just like you’ve put the fronts on the rear and vice versa. If people complained about the tyres in Melbourne and Malaysia... I would say it is much more extreme here.

Q: There is still a lot of talk about team orders after what happened at the last race. Do you think McLaren gets that right? Do you know where you stand?
JB:
Yes I know where I stand. We don’t have team orders. I've always had a good time with my team mates - especially with Lewis over the last couple of years - and that’s the way it should be. But yes, it’s a tricky matter. We all know that we should have a fair race, that we can do our own race, but we are also racing for a team and with the way the tyres are working now it is a great excuse to use the tyres. I have enjoyed working with the tyres so far this year. Of course there is a lot of degradation with the tyres and if you have two guys at the front who are fighting it out it’s possible that you lose the win. I'm guessing this was the reason for both teams.

Q: There is some friction at Red Bull after what had happened at the last race. Is that any help for their competitors like you?
JB:
Well, it is interesting to witness what is going on there, but we are not in that battle at the moment. I don’t think that it is fully settled between Seb and Mark right now, but that’s my personal opinion.

Q: Can you talk about the new parts? Are they working and has their number increased because of the results you had in the first two races?
JB:
You never bring new parts because you are panicking. You bring parts because you think it will make the car quicker. The new parts are here because we’ve understood where we are weak and where we need to improve. It was a busy morning implementing these parts and finding the right set-up for Saturday. Whether the parts really do what they’re supposed to do, we can’t really tell yet, but what I can tell is that we’re definitely moving forward. That we were so close to the front pace-wise in Malaysia had something to do with the fact that Lotus had a miserable weekend and that Fernando and the two Force Indias retired. So very likely we will see the reality on Sunday. Yes, we did have a long shot at a podium place in Malaysia, but I think it will be much more difficult here, even though we’ve made some improvements. From what we’ve seen, we’re doing something right. We always knew that the first few races of the season would be tough for us and it is good to know that we are able to improve even though the issues with the car are still pretty much the same overall. We have to sit down and see the data.

Q: How about the circuit and your driving style - do the two go together well?
JB:
I was second here last year, but so much has changed from last season - there is a lot more competition for us out there right now. But I feel that we’ve been able to dig ourselves out of a pretty big hole and steadily move forward. The real sweet feeling will be when we start fighting for wins again! (laughs)

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