29 MARCH 2009
1. Jenson BUTTON (Brawn GP), 1h34m15.784s
Q: Jenson, mayhem in front of you perhaps and certainly the mayhem behind you showed how much things could have gone wrong for you today. But from where we sat it looked like a beautiful day at the races.
Jenson BUTTON: I think it always looks easier than it is. The first few laps of the race were great for me and I could settle into a pace, but then when the safety car came out I struggled massively to get heat into the tyres. The car was hitting the ground and just before the safety car pulled in I flat-spotted the tyre pretty severely. I was struggling quite a bit with vibration and with the poor light as well. Being in the front it should be easy, but it was not easy at all. I tell you that. But an amazing day. Some people might say it is a pity it finished under the safety car, but I don't care. I won the race today and that is all I care about. I have got to say a massive thank you to everyone for this. It has been a traumatic few months for all of us, as I have said already, but I can't put it out there how tough it has been, so I have got to say thank you to the whole team. But also to my family for being so strong as it has been difficult.
Q: Jenson, you said the light was getting bad and the temperature was dropping and after your second pit stop you are emerging on the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres and the pressure is on with Robert Kubica on the hard tyre.
Button: You know, I really made a mistake in my pit stop and it was frustrating. I was in second gear when I came into the box and the neutral didn't work. It only works in first gear but I was just confused with Massa in front and that lost us a hell of a lot of time, so they just about got the nozzle on after they had done the tyres. That cost me five or six seconds which was a mistake but the good thing was we came out on top anyway with that. There is something to come from me and something to come from the team as well. I made it difficult for us today but we got there.
Q: What were the conditions like right at the end with the shade and the drop in temperatures?
Button: It was really difficult. It is strange for such an open circuit, you could not see the exit of the corners at all. I used a visor that was slightly tinted and that was the correct thing to do. But with the glare from the sun and the change in light from the trees it was so difficult. It was so easy to put a wheel wrong and the problem was the bad light was always on the most difficult corners, so it made it tough and on the prime tyre also we were struggling for heat. I just couldn't get any heat in the tyres in the second stint.
Q: Jenson, at the 1954 French Grand Prix Juan Manuel Fangio led a one-two for Mercedes. That was the last time a team making its debut had a one-two finish. You did that today with a Mercedes engine behind you. Your emotions and your thoughts at the end of this momentous occasion?
Button: It is not just for me, but for the whole team. This is a fairy tale ending really to the first race of our career together and I hope that we can continue this way and I know we are going to fight to keep this car competitive and with the limited resources we have to keep it at the front. The whole team has done a good job and this has got to continue as this is where I think we deserve to be and we have worked very hard for this. So thank you very much to the team and bring on Malaysia.
Q: Jenson, someone is going to pinch you in a moment and you are going to wake up.
Button: I said on the radio to my engineer 'can you please pinch me next time round.' It was at the start of the race after five laps when I had a five second lead or something, but yes, a special moment.
Q: Can you believe being on pole in a brand new car and now winning as well?
Button: Yeah, I mean Rubens made it sort of easy for me on the first timed lap when I was able to pull out four or five seconds in the first couple of laps. That was nice and I just settled into a nice rhythm. I was keeping Vettel's times in check, just knowing what he was doing and just trying to pace myself. It was all looking reasonably good and then we got the first safety car and I massively struggled to get heat into the tyres. That is something we have not had an issue with before, but I was really struggling with the car bottoming and when I braked to start again when the safety car came in I locked the front left up and had a massive flat spot. It made the next stint very difficult, especially with the poor light, as I couldn't see any of the corner exits and we were able to plough on and still put reasonably good lap times in. On my last stop I overshot the box a little bit and they couldn't get the hose on for about four or five seconds, so that lost us more time. It wasn't my best race I must say but I still won, so I am chuffed to bits. I know there is more room for improvement from myself and from team which is the exciting thing. I think it is just being out of practice for so long and not doing that much testing over the winter.
Q: What about that final stint and especially with Robert Kubica on the harder tyres?
Button: I actually wasn't worried. I knew when I came out in front of Vettel that I would be fine as I knew that we could look after the tyre. The thing with the last stint was not to push and try and see what was the best time I could do. I was purposely driving very slowly for what pace I think we could do to look after the tyres. I wasn't turning in aggressively to any corners. I think I could have been in the mid 1.28's but we were taking an easy route to stop the graining because as soon as that graining starts you see what happens as Vettel lost a massive amount of time behind me and I was able to just plough on doing my mid 1.29's when he was in the 1.30's, so I wasn't worried once I was out in front of Vettel and I knew we could bring it home from there.
Q: And your thoughts about Ross Brawn and everything he has done?
Button: You don't find Ross speechless very often but the last 15 minutes I would be surprised if he said a word. When we saw him when we went up to the podium he had nothing to say. The big bear was just there speechless. It was good to see as it was a very emotional day for him as it is for us as well.
Q: And in one week's time Malaysia?
Button: I'm all for it. I cannot wait. It is a circuit I really enjoy and hopefully we can iron out some of the problems we had here. It is going to be a good race I think. It is never as easy as you think it is going to be and today was reasonably tough and the pace of Vettel was pretty strong. And with the safety cars it does mix up everything. Fair play to Rubens and Jarno, they did a great job to finish second and third. Some of it I am sure was the safety car and it makes it tough. Even though I am on pole, in first position, it is still not an easy place to be.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Jenson, two things. Firstly, now that you've finally got that second win, any chance of shaving off the beard?
Button: I quite like it and my girlfriend likes it and that's what matters to me, Fogarty!
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) On the strength of today's performance, is it now a realistic prospect that the World Championship could be a two horse race between you and Rubens? Is this a modern version of Senna versus Prost in '88?
Button: I hope it is. I hope that we are quick all season and I hope that we have an advantage all season, but I don't think that's going to be the case. I think that you're right, that we're both going to be very competitive and pushing each other very hard if you look at the last few years that we've been teammates. But I have a feeling that other teams are going to be on us very quickly, and when we get to a different type of circuit, maybe in Malaysia, some other cars which weren't so competitive here will be. Vettel's pace surprised me a little bit. I didn't think they were quite as quick as they were today when we watched them in practice but their pace seemed to be good. So it's not a walkaway victory for sure, and it's never going to be easy for us over the next few races, but you're right that we will be competitive together and we're both in the same position here with a good car, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be fighting at the front.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Jenson, you've scored more points in one race today than you have in the past two years. Does that pretty much sum up how bad the past two years have been?
Button: The past two years put together? Yes, it does really. It's quite true. That's pretty rubbish isn't it? Wow! Yeah, it does. The last two years have been very tough, for both of us. To drive that car we had last season, it was a handful. Every corner we got to we didn't know what was going to really happen. So it was a beast, but that's what we had to deal with. We knew that there were some very talented people in the team. We just haven't produced the car that I think we expected to last season, but we've put all our work into this car and you can see that we can produce a good car as we have in the past, and now the important thing is to just keep improving it and our updates throughout the season I hope are going to be enough to keep us strong.
Q: (Ron Reed - Herald Sun) Jenson, what, if any, conversations have you had with Richard Branson in the last 24 hours or so?
Button: I haven't spoken to him really. We've obviously been doing our own thing, getting on with work, so we haven't spoken.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Jenson, two things: first of all, what was your feeling when the safety car came out, just at the end? Did you think that's ruined the spectacular blaze over the line or did you know then that you're going to win it? And secondly, is this a sort of poke in the eye for people who doubted your talent over the years? You always said you needed the right car?
Button: First of all, when the safety car came out I wasn't thinking 'I'm going to cross the finish line with the safety car out.' It was 'oh dear, another safety car.' But when I crossed the line I'd won the race, I crossed the line first, it doesn't matter how it's done. The safety car wasn't on the track then anyway, it had already come in, but it's the same emotion, exactly the same emotion because you've won the race and in spectacular fashion, I think even though we had the safety car out. What was the second question? This win is for me and for the team and that's what I care about. I don't need to poke anyone in the eye about what they've said about me in the past. There have been a lot of positive comments in the past and those are the ones that you obviously enjoy. If there are going to be negative comments, I have no reason to poke anyone in the eye for any reason. I'm just happy to be here and I've worked bloody hard to be here.
Q: (Livio Orrichio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) To all of you, do you think the FIA can change the result of this race; what do you think about that?
Button: That's nothing that we can change as drivers. We're here to put on a show and also to get the best out of the equipment on offer and that's exactly what we've done this weekend, and we will continue to do so over the next few races or for the whole of the season, and we have to see what happens. At the moment, I'm enjoying this victory because it is a victory and I think it should stand for sure.
Q: (Richard Williams - The Guardian) Jenson, did you know at the first test that this kind of thing was going to be possible, and if you did, what are the qualities of the car that make it different and make you feel so comfortable?
Button: When I drove it at Barcelona, after four laps I felt that the car was competitive, and also when I got out of the car and looked at the timing board, I realised that we were competitive. For me some of it is to do with the tyres which I think suit this car well. When I drove last year's car with the slick tyres the car seemed to be reasonably good. We have made some massive steps forward with the car for sure. I would say that mechanically we have improved a lot since last season, so it's better in the low speed corners, some of it again is helped by the slicks. Aerodynamically I think we are strong, I'm sure there is still room for improvement there and I think Mercedes have done a great job with the engine, the driveability of the engine has been good from the word go. There have obviously been some points which we needed to improve with the engine and the driveability but to be able to do that in six or seven days is impressive. So it's not just one thing, it is the whole package which is good, but I still don't think we're getting the best out of it yet.