Q. Jenson, the dream start to the year continues. And this was a dry race, this was a race all the way.
Jenson BUTTON: It was indeed. This was a tough race for us. You might say I was leading for most of it but this race we had not the pace we had in the first three races. I don't know where it has gone. I guess these guys have just caught up and maybe passed us. But the first lap of the race I knew was very important because Sebastian was going longer, so I made it work and I came out of the first corner in third. From then on it was a tough race but very enjoyable.
Q. Jenson, as Sebastian said, he did get stuck behind Lewis Hamilton. But you had an interesting battle with Lewis and managed to get the better of him very early in the race and that proved to be decisive.
JB: It was. He is very difficult to overtake anyway but on the first lap he made a few mistakes and I dived down the inside of him at many different places. And on the straight I thought I could get alongside him and I did out of the last corner and then he pushed his button and pulled back in front and I had to tuck back in behind again and get the tow off him and I was able to get him into turn one. That move really made the race for us. I knew I had to make it stick and I did, so I am very happy. This race win for us is probably the best out of the lot as we don't have that competitive edge. And also it is the fourth flyaway. We have got a lot of bits that need to be changed and it is all getting a bit aged now, so to come away from this win it is great going back into Europe and we can look at improving the car.
Q. Jenson, Ross Brawn was very concerned before the start of the race about the heat factor, particularly with your change at the last minute going into the season with the Mercedes engine and the data you had. As it turned out both cars were fabulously reliable and of course the heat was a factor for you too. Talk us through your emotions now after this third win of the season.
JB: For us it is very difficult because of the heat. But this is one of those circuits that isn't really that physical, so we could cope. The engine, we were a little bit worried about, as the temperatures have been very high in testing and in qualifying and I wasn't able to do the running I would have liked, so to come away with the win at this point of the season I am chuffed to bits. The whole team should be very proud of themselves. They have worked so hard. As you probably know we are much smaller than we used to be and they are having to work doubly hard to get the job done, so I am very proud of all of them and they should be also. Page 3 of 6 PRESS CONFERENCE
Q. Jenson, you are surprised to have won here. What made the difference?
JB: The first lap. To start with I got a poor start. I did a practice start coming into the pits and I was struggling with clutch slip and off the line I had exactly the same thing, so it was very lucky that I didn't lose more place. At the start the clutch slip wasn't too bad and then it was at turn one I had to make a move to get past Sebastian because they were obviously stopping later than us and it would have made the race very difficult. I was able to get around the outside and then the chance came up of getting past Lewis which was very difficult I must say because he was blocking very well but then at the last corner he made a slight mistake, so I pulled alongside him on the straight and I knew as soon as we got to the start-finish line he was going to push his KERS button and he did and he pulled away again, so I had to jump in behind and then did him into turn one. The first lap was what made the race really.
Q. Your fight back in the early laps was action packed for all of you.
JB: Good. The end of the race may not have been so exciting but the start of the race was very good for me and chasing down the two Toyotas. They seemed very quick on the option tyre and I was surprised a little bit by the pace and I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. I didn't even know that Jarno was behind Timo at that point in time. But it all worked out well and Sebastian got stuck behind Lewis which helped us but the biggest problem for me was backmarkers. I am sorry if my radio was played live as I might have said a few words that weren't good for TV but the traffic was terrible out there. They were a long way in front but I just couldn't get any closer. Plus when I exited the pits and went down to turn four and (Robert) Kubica shot past me with his KERS and overtook me and unlapped himself which was a little bit frustrating. That was the most difficult thing for me, trying to stay on top of that.
Q. Was the tyre wear roughly the same with the two different sets of tyres? What about the brakes? Any problems with the brakes?
JB: Brakes weren't too bad. We were worried going into the race a little bit about temperatures. On Friday and Saturday we were struggling a little bit and we thought we might have to run the race with reduced revs which would have been a disaster. But lucky enough we had clear air for most of it. We kept the engine reasonable cool and the brakes were fine, so we were in good shape. I think if Sebastian did not have the traffic it would have made the race very interesting as I think our pace was very similar but that was not to be and we obviously came away with the win which I am very happy about.
Q. And were you conserving things at the end basically?
JB: Yeah, the last sort of 15 laps we had to conserve it a little bit as this is a lot hotter than what we expected. It is not just the engine but everything on the car including the driver, so conserving it a little bit. And with the way the regulations are these engines have to do a lot more running than normal, so you have to look after them a little bit.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Ed Gorman - The Times) Anthony Davidson told the listeners of Radio Five Live that he considered this to be the finest race drive that you've produced in your career. Would you agree with him on that?
JB: I'd certainly say it was the finest first lap of my career, for sure. I was very happy with the race. I didn't feel that I put a foot a wrong at all. It's nice to be in a car where I can show what I can do, even in a difficult situation because it wasn't a perfect situation. It's a very special feeling to have got this win. And thanks to the Ginger Racer, as I call him, for those nice comments.
Q. (Ed Gorman – The Times) Can you just tell us a bit more about the overheating issues because we heard that you'd had to cut away some part of the bodywork to help the cooling in the car.
JB: There's nothing different this race to the last race. We didn't expect it to be as hot as it is here. All weekend we've been struggling a little bit and even in qualifying I couldn't do three laps hard. I had to do a quick lap, slow lap, quick lap. It made it very difficult in practice as well because you couldn't get the long run pace. It's been a tough weekend from that point of view and if we were sat behind a car Page 5 of 6 for a stint like these two were, it would have been no way. We would have had to drop back two or three seconds to get some clear air.
So that's a weakness but luckily enough I had the clear air and our reliability was very good. I'm sure we've got to look at what damage it's caused for the next races because you know these engines have to do a lot more mileage than normal, so we will see. But the win was more important, I felt, and we came away with a very special win this weekend, for sure. As for the heat, my feet were warm and I've burned the top of my left buttock on a box – there's an electrical box there. It's a little bit burned, so hopefully we can solve that issue. I'll get you stroking it later, Sebastian, don't worry!
Q. (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Your teams proved to be the most competitive ones so far but starting from Barcelona, your competitors will introduce some changes in the cars. Do you expect a different story for the championship?
JB: Well, at the moment you would say that these three teams sat here have been the most consistent, you're right, but I would say that the McLarens seem to be a lot more competitive this weekend. They made a step forward in China. Supposedly they haven't had anything new on the car here but they've moved forward a lot and Lewis ended up fourth. They've obviously done a good job, so you can't forget McLaren. When we start in Europe I'm sure they are going to have some new parts and they are going to be very competitive. It's positive that we've got some points on them already.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Jenson, I think it's pretty much accepted that every team is going to have major upgrades for Barcelona. Is it a case that the fight for the title will really start in Spain now?
JB: We've had four races; they've been pretty important to us, especially at the start of the season when people have got reliability issues or making mistakes, we've been able to pick up the points which is great. When we get to Europe we don't know where anyone is going to be. We know that these two teams alongside me here are going to be competitive but we don't know how and the same for McLaren. We have an upgrade coming in Barcelona, I just hope it's enough. We have to wait and see. Nobody knows. And the thing is we can't go testing either, so we don't get that chance to get the feel for it. So it's exciting going back to Europe and I think that for Formula One this is great. There's so much change already in the sport and going back to Europe it's going to be even more change. I think that's what this sport needed and I think we've got it.
Q. (Tom Cary – The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, I know you expected it but when Lewis pulled up alongside you so quickly off the start did you fear the worst?
JB: Well, he didn't actually use his KERS to get me, I don't think, because he was past me before he actually got to 100kph. You don't really think about it at that point in time, you just get your head down Page 6 of 6 and see what you can do at the first corner. Our braking is good here and I knew that I had looked after the tyres and got them in good shape for the first corner under the brakes, so I knew that I could brake very late and it showed in turn one, so yeah, I knew that I had to get past Sebastian, that was the main thing, and if I could get past Lewis that was a bonus.
Q. (James Allen – Financial Times) Jenson, you looked very comfortable leading the race. Is there a feeling now with three wins that you feel that this is beginning to feel more and more my thing, I feel like I expect this, I belong here?
JB: Well, every race is exciting and if you can stand on the top step afterwards it's exhilarating but if I don't win a race... for example in Shanghai I was happy to finish on the podium but when you've won two races the win is exciting and that's the same for all of us. We're all racing drivers, we all want to win the race but it's still not easy at the front. Our car is competitive but it's still not easy to drive and that's something that we need to work on because I had a lot of moments during the race where I was wide, locked up rears or fronts. Maybe it's not just the way that our car was balanced, maybe it's just a new set-up on the car, the way it works but you see a lot of people getting out of shape now. It's tough for us but maybe good for you guys to watch.
Sunday Team Quote - Taken from www.grandprix.com
Jenson Button (1st): "It was a great race today and I'm so happy to have seen the chequered flag without a safety car or red light in front of me! To achieve my third victory of the season is amazing and we are going back to Europe with a strong lead in both championships. I couldn't wish for anything more. It has been a tough weekend for the team which makes this win even more rewarding as we didn't have the pace that we expected. I was really happy with my first lap. I knew that I had to overtake Sebastian quickly and got him round the outside on turn one. I had a couple of attempts at Lewis round the first lap and almost got him at the last corner. I knew that he would pull away from me on the straight so I dropped in behind and used the tow to overtake him at turn one. It wasn't easy from there but getting up to third on the first lap was crucial for me. Our thanks to Mercedes-Benz this weekend who have not only provided us with a powerful engine but have integrated so well with our team. You need a close-knit unit to succeed in Formula One and that is what we have at this team."