Button: To get a victory here from lights to flag is very special
3 September, 2012
Sep.3 (FIA) Before the Belgian Grand Prix Jenson Button said he would have to out score Fernando Alonso in all the remaining races and he started in the best way possible by scoring his second win of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, his first ever at the fabled circuit in the Ardennes. He spoke afterwards about his afternoon ‘at the office’.
Jacky Ickx on the podium: The last few races were not really easy for you. Today you have done the perfect race. You did the fastest time in practice, you did all the race winning it, you are the only one, I think, this year who has won from the start to the end. It has been wonderful. Just let us know your feeling winning this wonderful Belgian Grand Prix.
Jenson Button: Good afternoon everyone! Thank you very much. I still can’t get used to this: talking on the podium, it’s quite strange, isn’t it? What can I say? This circuit is such a special circuit to most drivers and, yeah, the way that it flows and the history here so to get a victory here from lights to flag is very special, especially as it’s not been the easiest year for me. So, yeah, a very special weekend. I’d like to thank everyone: the whole team and also all of you guys [the crowd] for being so supportive. And we’re going to enjoy this for a little while longer before we head to Monza and hopefully do the same.
We said the other day that Spa hasn’t necessarily been very kind to you – I guess that’s changed now?
JB: Yeah, a little bit. All weekend, to be fair, the car has felt reasonably good. And this is the first circuit we come to that is lower downforce, we pretty much run full downforce everywhere else we go, so it’s a nice change to try something different. I just love Spa, I think we all do. Through Eau Rouge, I know it’s easy flat, but it’s still an experience, the G that we pull through there. And yeah, to lead from start to finish, it’s a very special victory. But I think you’re going to say that about every victory. But it’s really nice to win on a circuit like this. I remember watching Formula One back in the day here – it was a little bit different then – and there’s so much history. It’s really good to be a part of that.
How important was it to get that first set of medium tyres to last all the way through to nearly half distance?
JB: Yeah, well, we weren’t really sure what to do with the strategy: whether it was going to be a one [stop] or a two, and we thought some people might even be doing a three and really we were just playing it by ear. And I think when Nico [Hulkenberg] got into second it did help us a little bit because I could just feel the car and not push it too hard and at that point I still didn’t think we were going to do a one-stop, I still thought it was going to be a two. And then on lap 12 the tyres started working and the car felt very consistent, really good to drive and I could control the degradation of the tyres. It’s always easier when you’re leading a race, to do that. But it was a great feeling to be able to go so much further than pretty much everyone except for Seb.
Were you a bit worried that the tyres might drop off at the end there?
JB: No. I had a bit more oversteer in the car, which isn’t ideal, but yeah, the balance was reasonable, and it feels that the first ten laps were not perfect and then the tyres would come to you: you would lose a bit of front grip and you would get a balance – on both sets. So it was good. I knew that Sebastian stopped a couple of laps later than me, so he had a couple of laps’ fresher tyres but he had to pull back 15 seconds, so we were in a pretty good position. But you think about everything: you think about all the things that could go wrong and, y’know, today they didn’t. The team did a fantastic job and we really didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. So very happy and very proud of all the guys. And great to get this victory here in Spa.
Next week we are in Monza. Do you think we’re going to see McLaren in similarly good shape? You’re coming back, you’re still a long way behind but this was the win that you absolutely needed, with Fernando scoring no points.
JB: Yeah, as I said before the race, it’s a massive long shot to win the title but today proves that you can claw back 25 points very very quickly. A great day for me, but still 63 points (behind). Anything is possible. Monza is a circuit like this in a way, so yeah, there’s a good possibility that we will have good pace there. Whether we will be as competitive as we were here we still have to wait and see. The temperatures will be different – it is a little bit different in terms of downforce level so we will see. This is a great weekend for the team – for me anyway, our side of the garage so yeah, it’s a good 25 points and if we can keep fighting for victories like this there’s so many people in the championship that still have the possibility to win, there’s still a small chance that I can really fight for that championship but going to Monza I don’t think about the championship, I think – as we all will say – we go there to do the best job we can and to bring back home the most points that we can. It’s a tough race for anyone that’s not in a Ferrari but it’s a great atmosphere there and it’s one of the best races on the calendar.
Speaking of that, do you think that this victory shows that McLaren has improved a lot after the five week break, or is it just a different, unique Grand Prix because you had the accident in the first turn and no activity on Friday because of the rain?
JB: We’ve had a very up and down season. I’m not talking about me personally but as a team. We had such a strong start to the year and then a pretty weak part to the season. Then Hockenheim was a good race with second then with the win for Lewis in Hungary, and also the win in Canada. We’ve had some very, very good races and it seems the last three have been very strong for us. It’s great to see, because here is very different to the last two races. We were running a different… well, I’m running a different wing package in the last two races and it’s good to see that they both work.
How do you explain that you were struggling big time in the first half of the season and now suddenly there seems some kind of dominance, or this weekend you’re absolutely on top of your game? What happened?
JB: Yeah, very good holiday. Maybe we should have five weeks between every race? I’m not looking forward to Monza! Many things. The start of the season was good for me – this could be long! – the start of the season was good for me, I obviously won the first race. In the first three or four races the pace was very good and then I had a period of about four races that weren’t so good but for different reasons. We did try something with the set-up to try and help the tyre temperature issues that we were having in our team. I tried it on my side and it took us a couple of races to realise that data wasn’t correct and we were probably damaging the tyres more than helping them. At certain times I’ve been unlucky, especially at Silverstone which was disappointing because it’s my home grand prix. In Valencia, again the pace was good but it didn’t go my way and from then on, I think the pace has been reasonably good. I’m much happier with the car in the last few races. I feel that I can work with it. Before, it was so inconsistent corner to corner, not just lap to lap. Corner to corner the car felt so different. I wouldn’t say it’s just our car, it’s probably everyone’s car, with the way the tyres are working but for me, that was more of a struggle than for Lewis and maybe some others. It’s definitely a weakness of mine, but something I definitely worked on. This weekend proves that I can get the best out of the car when I like the balance.
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