Q: Jenson, Belgium was a bit of a tricky race, so what are you hoping for this weekend?
Jenson Button: Hopefully a better race than Spa! I do like this place and from Spa to here, this is a good part of the season as these are tracks that all the drivers like. Monza requires even less downforce than Spa - and hopefully that will suit our car tomorrow and on Sunday. But from what we’ve seen today things look pretty promising. We have some new bits and pieces - I cannot go into details - but I think we are not different to other teams as it’s my guess that everybody has brought a ‘Monza package’ here.
Q: You finished in P2 in the morning and in P5 in the afternoon - that is pretty much the best Friday for you this season. What are you hoping for on Sunday?
JB: Decent points! I ended in P6 in Spa - that’s not terrific. But we aren’t in the position to fight for podiums - that will be Mercedes and very likely Williams (territory) - and all we can hope is to challenge them on Sunday.
Q: There has been much written about you and possible retirement at the end of the season. You’ve said that you’ve had 14 fantastic years in Formula One racing and if that’s it, so be it…
JB: I cannot remember having said that. I clearly want to race but sometimes it is not your decision. So yes, I want to race and I find it a bit odd having these kinds of conversations in the first place.
Q: How frustrating is it to learn that McLaren have reportedly been talking to Sebastian Vettel - just as the McLaren-Honda cooperation is really taking shape?
JB: It is not unsettling. I’ve been in F1 for so many years, as you’ve just mentioned, and I have had situations like that before - and I’ve always come out on top. I think I’ve mentioned it before that I have been able to control all my team mates so far, so I hope things are taking the course that I favour. I have no worries, but the questions about my future get a bit boring. I definitely feel that I will be racing next year.
Q: Do you feel that you are underestimated?
JB: No, not at all.
Q: So the positive for the weekend is that McLaren are improving - and probably the downside is that there is still no clear situation about your future…
JB: As I just said, I’ve been in F1 for so many years and have learned that the future in this environment is mostly uncertain. The hero-to-zero game is more intense here than anywhere else - and it is funny to witness all kinds of silly rumours. When you are in F1 you never give up - you’re always in for the maximum. You want to do the best job that you can - for yourself first of all. You don’t want to do a half-hearted job.
Q: Very recently Yasuhisa Arai, Honda’s man in F1 racing, said that they hope to be successful in their first year back. How much would you love to renew your relationship with Honda?
JB: Yes of course. I’d love to race next year - and I’d love to be doing it with this team, which I think has an exciting future. But it has to be the right situation.
Q: What are you expecting next year? A whole different ball game with a new engine supplier…
JB: I have no comparison of how it will be - how could I? So we’ll work hard with what we’ve got right now, because you cannot deal with something that you don’t have. It will be a clean break - and, of course, a change.
Q: So let’s come back to this weekend: you’ve scored points in the last four races so you must have certain expectations - especially as the updates have seemed to deliver?
JB: It is not only about scoring some points - it’s the overall feeling. Before Spa we weren’t able to get the best out of what we had, but now it seems to be coming our way. Of course Mercedes will be the favourites - and Williams seem to be in a good position to challenge them - and we should be in a pretty similar position to Spa.
Q: We have seen drivers going wide over the new asphalt run-off at Parabolica - will that be an issue in the drivers' briefing?
JB: It’s slower when you go off - so you will do everything to avoid that. The good news: you don’t get penalized! (laughs) For myself I can say that I am carrying more speed into Parabolica than I did last year, but I am still not sure if I like it or not.
Q: So was it a good change for Parabolica?
JB: It’s still Parabolica - an iconic corner!
Q: How will the strategy be on Sunday?
JB: I predict that it will be a one, maximum two-stop strategy - everything beyond that is down to issues. The forecast shows that it will be slightly warmer over the next two days, so the tyre situation could become a bit tricky, but I don’t expect massive graining - so we all should be on the safe side.