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Jenson Button Q&A: F1 needs more races like Mexico

30 Oct 2015

Jenson Button might be braced for a back-row start and an uncompetitive McLaren in Mexico, but even so he admits he cannot wait for the special feeling of racing in front of such fervent crowds on Sunday. From the circuit history to coping with the high altitude, the Briton says he is revelling in F1's latest 'new' circuit...

Q: Jenson, after the surprising result in Austin, where you finished P6, there must have been some hope of a repeat performance this weekend - at least until it was confirmed you have changed engines and will have to start from the back...

Jenson Button: Can you believe that? You hardly know the track, but already know that you will start from the back! That is a tough one. But in the end I believe that this circuit will be a tough one for us, engine change or not. It's mainly because of the altitude. Competitive cars already suffer from having less low downforce, so imagine us. I guess we will all run the Monza set-up even though we have biggest wings on our cars here because the air pressure is different here and that changes the aerodynamics. Fuel will also be different as the engine works differently. That means there is a lot of data for the engineers to go through. But that spices it up. 

Q: Speaking of spicing things up, do you embrace new tracks?

JB: Personally I do love new circuits - if you race in F1 for as long as I have, you crave new experiences. What I am really looking forward to is the atmosphere. It is sold out and when you see the grandstands you can imagine how it will be on Sunday - a real melting pot! And that is good for a change. We need more races like this. 

Q: How did you like the different parts of the track?

JB: I like the fast sections. Actually I like every part of the track until you get to the stadium. It is so tight and you really cannot unleash the positives of a Formula one car, which is a shame. I am sure it is nice for the fans as they are really very close to the action, but for the drivers it is not an enjoyable part of the circuit. 

Q: So how was your first day? What were the pros and cons?

JB: Well the first session was rather difficult. The track was damp and there was such a low grip level - and the water seemed to stay in the asphalt, which was very strange. In the afternoon we didn't get out for the first hour because we had problems and an engine change. None of that was perfect - but it was okay in the end as the circuit gripped up late on. When I look at the different parts of the track then clearly the straight is long - too long for us. 

Q: But in terms of competitiveness, it was one of McLaren's best Fridays of 2015...

JB: It was not too bad - and it was unexpected. We have engine penalties here because we thought that this was going to be a tough race. It might not look like one today maybe, but I think it still will be tough race for us with the deployment and all that. So yes, slightly more on the positive side. 

Q: Many drivers complained about the brakes...

JB: ...yes, that's a problem because not enough airflow goes into them. For this though we should be on the good side because we do not suffer so much from that problem. It seems we are on our own with this one! One of the tricky things will be traffic during the race, as none of us have any idea how that will work - especially for us starting last. I predict that I will still have fun - but then ask me again Sunday afternoon...

Q: What can you do if the brakes do start overheating, as many other drivers experienced this afternoon?

JB: That's a simple one: don't brake! (laughs)

Q: Do you ever think about the history of this track, and the names of past winners like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell?

JB: Yes, everybody likes to do a little reminiscing here. I have seen the photos and the footage that they show here. They had some great battles here in the past.  

Q: How did you prepare for this race, given its unique altitude?

JB: I was in Los Angeles doing some training there - in the mountains - so that was great. I used the altitude - not quite as high, but still very helpful because the moment you land here you feel that you are a bit short of breath. But you get used to it if you have prepared right.

Q: And how did you prepare for the track itself?

JB: I was working in the simulator. I knew that there are some pretty slow sections. The last few corners are really technical, especially the one that comes around to finish the lap.