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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren expecting wins in 2014

13 Mar 2014

Jenson Button begins his 15th Formula One season this weekend and is confident that McLaren’s prospects are bright after the nightmare that was 2013 for the team. They went well in testing and have upgrades for Melbourne. Here’s what the former champion had to say at Albert Park on Thursday…

Q: Jenson, McLaren have shown good performance during testing - and there was the promise of new parts for Australia. Will those parts be able to propel you to the front again?

Jenson Button: Indeed we do have some new parts here - and let’s see how they work over the weekend. Melbourne is a very different circuit to Bahrain so it is hard to say where we are now. My guess is that the Mercedes and the Williams will be quick here, so let’s find out how big the gaps will be to us.

Q: Melbourne was always a good circuit for you - you’ve won here three times, making you the most successful driver on this track. Does that help?

JB: Yes, Melbourne is definitely a good circuit for me - in the dry and wet. There is a chance that we will have a wet race on Sunday, but actually I would prefer it to be dry. These cars are so new that a dry race would make things a lot easier. What make me successful here? I love it when the season starts again, so maybe I am trying harder than the rest.

Q: You must be going into the race with a fair chance of a good result…

JB: …it is a good basic car, but in terms of speed I don’t know where we stand compared to our competitors right now. I believe we will see a lot of changes over the next couple of races and I believe that the cars that were fast last year will not be slow for long - they will be competitive very quickly. So hopefully we will be a team that is fighting at the front sooner rather than later because at this point of the season it is a great chance to get big points.

Q: You are heading into your 15th season. Are you as excited to race here on Sunday as you were in 2000?

JB: Yes, I can’t wait to get in the car. The season-opening race is always something very special and the Melbourne track is a track out of the normal, so it’s a good fit having the season opener here.

Q: 2013 was a dreadful year for McLaren - are you feeling better prepared than last season?

JB: Definitely. I would be very disappointed if we find out we are in the same situation as last year. There is a much better feeling in the team and the car itself feels like a pretty good race car, so things look promising. Whether we are quick enough to win here, I don’t know. There were two teams that were really fast in testing - and we weren’t one of them. But we have brought upgrades to Australia that hopefully will take us close to the front. We are definitely expecting to win races this year.

Q: How do all these changes influence you driving style?

JB: It definitely is different running with so much torque, the braking is different, and also the downforce level. It is not so much fun as it used to be ten years ago with the V10 engines, but this is what it is now and I am still racing against the best drivers in the world and the best teams in the world. That is what really excites you. I am still living my dream!

Q: Is this the most open start to a season that we have seen?

JB: Until first practice, yes. In testing we have seen gaps of one to two seconds between teams - that we'll definitely not see here. Sure, some teams will stand out, like the Mercedes and the Williams, but apart from that it will be much closer than it looked in testing.

Q: There has been a lot of talk about drivers having to lose weight over the winter. How did that work in your case?

JB: It’s just an exaggeration of the normal, really. I don’t eat carbs anyway, so it was a bit hard for me to lose weight - but then you have to change your training. More low heart rate stuff. To lose fat. Not that I’ve got any. It is not a great situation for any one of us to be in, but it is what it is.

Q: You will race with number 22 on your car. What’s the secret behind that choice?

JB: No secret. Only that number one was taken! (laughs)