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Jenson Button Q&A: Penalty does not preclude strong result

01 Nov 2014

Saturday in Austin saw Jenson Button qualify his McLaren seventh, putting him on the clean side of the grid. Sadly, a five-place penalty for a gearbox change moves him to 12th - and the dirty side. Nevertheless, Button believes that doesn’t mean an end to his hopes of a satisfying race performance on Sunday…

Q: Jenson, how did your afternoon go?
Jenson Button:
It was a lot of effort for P12 on the grid after my gearbox change. It was really difficult to get a good lap around here. I really struggled with the inconsistency of the car. It was so difficult with the wind, the low grip and the low temperatures. We have to be reasonably happy to be where we are. It will never be as good as Sochi, a standout circuit for us. Looking at where we were in the morning, we are happy to be where we are. Sochi was a standout race and this now is where we are - that’s the pace of the car. So it will be interesting to see what we can do tomorrow.

Q: What can you do tomorrow starting from P12?
JB:
Turn 1 is always tricky when you start from the inside - which I do. I qualified on the clean side, but that’s how it goes. The good news is that it looks like it is going to be a two-stop race for everyone and that gives you more options when you play your cards smart.

Q: Your real grid position would be P7 - how annoying is that five-place penalty?
JB:
It’s always annoying when you get a penalty, but it was even looking worse in the morning when I finished FP3 in P10 - imagine then going five places back! So in this respect qualifying went reasonably well. Fernando (Alonso) is only half a tenth ahead of my time and you could argue that I could have done a bit better here or there, but in the end it is what it is.

Q: What can you do strategically in the race?
JB:
It is always frustrating when you work so hard to get to something in the range of P7, do two relatively good laps and your reality is being 12th on the grid. That is far from being perfect, as I think that I did get the maximum out of the car - and so did Kevin (Magnussen). We have very different driving styles, but in the end ended up with pretty much the same lap time. It will be down to a good pit-stop strategy tomorrow to get a reasonable points finish.

Q: Kevin said yesterday that he was struggling on the soft tyres - and obviously so did you. Have you been able to find some solutions to that problem?
JB:
Yes, the team did a great job between FP3 and qualifying because in PF3 we looked still a little lost, but in the afternoon we understood the problem - and made the maximum possible.

Q: Do you really see a good result tomorrow?
JB:
Yes. Of course it will be a lot easier for Kevin as he is starting from P8, but as I said before I think we will see at least a two-stop strategy - maybe even a three-stop with some teams as the tyre degradation is pretty high, hopefully not just for us - so that should give us the chance to move forward, as it always helps in a case when you have a good car and start further back since overtaking on the track is not so easy here. Overall I am pretty satisfied with this afternoon, so let’s see what we can do in the race as we struggled in the long runs on Friday afternoon. I am cautiously optimistic for the race as there are cars in front of me that we usually outperform - so yes, it could be a result we can all live with happily ever after! (laughs)