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Jenson Button Q&A: It’s going to be a difficult race

06 Jun 2015

Having suffered all season from a lack of straight-line speed and power, McLaren always knew that they might struggle in Canada - and that was before Jenson Button ran into ERS-related issues in FP3 that led to him sitting out qualifying. The 2009 world champion will start Sunday’s race 20th and last and as a result is under no illusions about the challenge that awaits him…

Q: Jenson, how disappointing was it to watch qualifying from the pits after suffering ERS-related problems in FP3?

Jenson Button: It’s a pity, yes, but these things happen. We were able to do quite a bit of set-up work on the car yesterday and this morning before I was forced to stop, so we should have a decent race tomorrow. The car in fact feels much better now.

Q: Is that one of the consequences when you follow an aggressive development path with the car; that you have days like today?

JB: Probably, yes. Initially it was an electronic issue but then it developed into an ERS problem. We had to change ERS, which translates into a penalty. How big that penalty it is I still do not know. But we’re dealing with it - that is for sure. I still hope that we will have a good race, even if it will be a tough afternoon.

Q: Did McLaren-Honda bring some upgrades to this track?

JB: Aero-wise this circuit is very different – much less downforce – and engine wise we’ve used a couple of tokens, which were used for more efficiency. Hopefully we will see a bit of it in the race and will be able to derive important data for the next races.

Q: How do you manage these many incidents personally?

JB: I am too long in the business to know that sometimes you have to go through tough times. For me it will be a difficult race – but I think it will be for Fernando (Alonso) as well as he will have some faster cars behind him due to their penalties.

Q: Fernando indicated that this season could be a write-off and that focusing on next year could be the answer. What is your opinion on that?

JB: I am sure he didn’t really mean to call this season a write-off because there are no rule changes for 2016, so we have to develop what we have. Of course I also believe that next year will be a much more exciting season and we can challenge at the front, but to get there we have to do the development work and see what we can do at every single race this year.

Q: One race that will always stay in the memory of every F1 fan is your 2011 victory here. You had a fierce battle with Sebastian Vettel in a race full of records: the lowest ever race speed, the most safety cars in one race and the longest race in F1 history. What are your memories of that race?

JB: It was a mad, mad day! It was a day where everything seemed to go so wrong – and then suddenly go so right. It was the proof that you must never give up in motor sport – however bad it looks or gets! I was lapped in the race and came back and won it. It was a great day and I don’t think that I’ll see something like that in my career again.

Q: You delivered McLaren’s first points of the season in Monaco two weeks ago. Did it feel to you that that was some kind of breakthrough?

JB: Well, Monaco is such a unique track that it is almost impossible to carry any conclusions to any other track. Of course it was nice to finally finish in the top ten again. But we didn’t get too overexcited.

Q: Was it a great relief for the team?

JB: No, not really! Yes, the aim of the season is to improve at every race – and we did that, which was good, but it was just another step on our agenda. Sure you have to enjoy these little moments – it’s a small stepping stone towards our final goal, which is to win races and the world championship. It was a small goal that we achieved in Monaco - one that was good for the morale of the whole team. But relief looks different.