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Jenson Button Q&A: Radio ban could benefit experienced drivers

19 Sep 2014

McLaren’s Jenson Button was an encouraging seventh fastest in Singapore on Friday following the first two practice sessions run under the new regime banning ‘driver coaching’ radio messages from the teams. We caught up with the former champion to get his thoughts on day one at Marina Bay…

Q: Jenson, this circuit has been described as 'modern classic'. Would you agree with that?

Jenson Button: A 'modern classic'? Yes. It is a great spectacle - the only real night race, so for the fans it is fantastic. The track itself is pretty bumpy, and the thing that really stands out is that it's very, very tricky - it is very difficult to overtake and it is mentally demanding.

Q: What is so mentally demanding? You race on 18 other tracks this season, so why does Singapore stand out?

JB: It's corner after corner here so there is no moment to rest - and it's full concentration as there are no run-offs. Your head bounces around, so you better have a good balance - and even with a good balance you have a good chance to end this race with a headache. It's a tough race.

Q: So how is the McLaren behaving here?

JB: It's still difficult to say. We've brought some bits and pieces and some of them didn't work so well, but at least we know now - and we know what to do for tomorrow. We still have to improve the balance - something that is crucial here - but overall it's not too bad compared to some other people around. I think we have some good information to work with from the aero runs and that should give us the chance to improve a lot for tomorrow.

Q: You seem to have been suffering from understeer - how bad has that been?

JB: Both cars have been struggling with similar things today, but we know why - so we are pretty sure that we can resolve the issues that we have.

Q: It looks like the Mercedes-powered cars have lost a bit of their advantage here. What's your impression?

JB: Well, this track is not as much about sheer power as many other circuits, so it is easier for non-Mercedes powered teams to catch up more. Japan should see a return to the usual pecking order.

Q: There is quite a big difference in lap time between the two tyres compounds at the moment - will that stay throughout the weekend?

JB: I can't see that it is going to change. We normally don't see a big difference because we are good on the prime tyres, but it is the opposite here - which is a good thing as qualifying is very important here.

Q: What is your impression of the team radio changes?

JB: No big difference - they haven't taken much away. Drivers can't be coached anymore - that's basically it. It is probably not such good news for Mercedes, who coach their drivers, but I have never been coached around a lap anyway - where to go quick and where to go slow. Now we are masters of our own fate! (laughs) I like the idea of having more in my hand and I hope the experienced drivers will have an advantage!

Q: There have been rumours that you had promising discussions with Ron Dennis lately…

JB: …I do have frequent conversations [with Ron Dennis] - mostly at the races but also at the MTC [McLaren Technology Centre], so that is nothing unusual...

Q: But it was here in Singapore that you had your drive confirmed last year. Is something imminent regarding you future?

JB: Patience is a virtue… So you all should be patient.