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Jenson Button Q&A: New Monaco surface no problem

22 May 2014

Former Monaco winner Jenson Button loves driving in Monte Carlo and a positive first day’s running for McLaren in the Principality on Thursday did nothing to change that. Button was also pleasantly surprised to find that new asphalt on significant parts of the track was not the issue he and others had feared - quite the opposite in fact…

Q: Jenson, how was today’s Monaco feeling?

Jenson Button: It’s much too early to say how fast we really are - or the others - but it’s nice to be back in Monaco. It’s a lot of fun with these cars - with their power. There is not a lot of mechanical grip, though, which makes it always a bit tricky with the tyres that we have. As the forecast predicts dry conditions on Saturday and Sunday the supersoft is a reasonable tyre. The inters are a very difficult one to use, even if the circuit is almost dry, as there is no grip at all - so let’s hope that the forecast is right.

Q: What about the new tarmac at Casino?

JB: I think a lot of other circuits can learn from what they’ve done here because the asphalt is really good. Considering that it’s all brand new it has so much grip. When it was wet I feared that we would get oil from the asphalt, but not at all. So good job done!

Q: From what you’ve seen and learned today, are you in for a good race result?

JB: First of all - as this is the cornerstone of every good result - the car feels pretty good, although I’ve just said that I really have no idea what today’s times mean in terms of pecking order. Sure there is always room to improve and I know that the boys at the MTC [McLaren Technology Centre] are working flat out to make it happen.

Q: Monaco is a very peculiar track. Did you have to change your driving style with the new car to meet the necessities of this special circuit?

JB: No, not really. The biggest problem is high speed because we are so much slower in high speed. I think even the World Series cars are quicker than us in high speed! That is no joke - unfortunately. One thing is for sure: Monaco is a track that doesn’t take any prisoners. You’ve got to be on the limit to win here. You step one millimetre over that limit and you are in the wall - you stay one millimetre under that limit and you don’t win. And when you cross that finish line having won you are the happiest man in the world that very moment.

Q: Do you have a favourite part of the circuit?

JB: I would say that Tabac is the scariest corner - probably that’s my favourite. You can’t see the exit - as you can’t see it at any street circuit - but here you carry a lot of speed and suddenly you have to face a two-step barrier at the exit: the first one you almost clip to get as close to the second one as much as you can.

Q: Do you have a special memory here?

JB: Probably 2009: qualifying on pole position, winning the race, parking in the wrong place and having to run to the podium - if you want to win the Monaco Grand Prix that’s the only way to do it. I mean the pole and win! (laughs)

Q: You were team mates with Lewis (Hamilton) for quite some time. What advice would you give Nico (Rosberg) on how to beat him?

JB: Nico doesn’t need any advice. He is a strong individual and he’s won races so my guess is that he’ll be fine. Lewis is in a good place right now. He’s on a winning streak and of course the question of ‘how am I going to beat him’ is spinning in Nico’s head. So if he beats him this weekend then Lewis will be like ‘how the hell did he beat me around Monaco?’ So yes, it will be a strange season for them, fighting your team mate for the championship. It must be quite a rollercoaster of emotions for both of them. It’s tricky - but great for the sport.

Q: From what you have witnessed so far, what’s your guess on how the transition from the Mercedes to the Honda power unit will be?

JB: I am afraid I am the wrong person to ask. I think it would be unfair to comment on our engine partner next year. Right now we are with Mercedes - and that’s what we are dealing with at the moment. The future is next year.