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Jumat, 24 Juli 2009

Q & A with Jenson Button


By Edd Straw

After two comprehensive defeats by Red Bull, Jenson Button needs to get back in control of his title campaign in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

AUTOSPORT heard from the championship leader when he discussed his situation - and the day's hot topic Jaime Alguersuari - with reporters at the Hungaroring today.

Q. Are you really up for this one?

Jenson Button: I'm really looking forward to it - there's no excuses. It's supposed to be warm this weekend, so we should get the tyres to work. I think people are going to struggle with overheating on the super softs, so it's going to be about tyre management as usual. This year has been all about tyre management.

We also have some updates that will move us forward a good chunk, they are mostly aerodynamic. You see what it says in the windtunnel, but you don't know whether it's going to be reality on the circuit. I'm happy with the step forwards and hopefully it'll be enough to challenge the Red Bulls and make it more exciting.

Q. Is the feeling within the team that there are now no excuses?

JB: No - that was just a little throwaway line! But it's hot, so that's a good thing, and saying there are no more excuses means there is not that to fall back on the we have everything to play for this weekend.

Q. Now that Mark Webber has had his first win, do you think that he is still the man to watch?

JB: He was very quick, compared to his team-mate as well. I think both of them are going to be quick. If you look at past seasons they have been very quick around this circuit, both of them against their team-mates, they are driving a very competitive car. But they have us to contend with here, we're going to be pushing them a lot more here. It's going to be a bit cooler this weekend, but it's still going to be hot enough to make the tyres work. And we need to start beating them, otherwise they'll take too many points off us. They've already taken 11 points out of me in two races - that's too many.

Q. Will Rubens Barrichello have the bit between his teeth after the last race - do you see him as someone who has something to prove this weekend?

JB: I don't know. We're all here to do the best job that we can and Rubens is going to be trying very hard every race. He won't just suddenly think I'll push harder now because I've got the bit between my teeth. He has been competitive all season, so nothing is different here. It's all positive, because everything is in our favour.

Q. What did you think of McLaren in Germany?

JB: Quick. I think this is a circuit they will go reasonably well at. The Ferraris are quite excited about this weekend as well. It's a circuit where you chuck all your downforce at the car and they seemed to work very well in Monaco. McLaren's high-speed has been a struggle this season, and there are a few high-speed or mid-speed corners here so Ferrari might have the edge on McLaren here.

But there are a lot of cars with KERS - it's a difficult one for Red Bull and ourselves. Our main competition is Red Bull and they are the people we are fighting for the championship with, so it's a difficult one. You think maybe we should just think about Red Bull, but the Ferraris and McLarens can really determine our race as they did with me in Nurburgring. It's a difficult situation for us to be in and KERS has made it all the more complicated.

Q. Do you understand Rubens's frustration at the end of that race and his subsequent outburst?

JB: He was leading the race for the first part and was very excited to be in that situation. Obviously it didn't go his way and he lost four or five seconds in the pitstop which cost him a position or two, so I can understand he was a little bit angry. But as we know, and Rubens knows, we talk about it first, discuss the issues and get angry within the team. He understands the situation there.

Q. Jaime Alguersuari is coming into F1 at 19 - how would you have handled it at that age?

JB: I started in F1 when I was 20 and didn't have the proper mileage to have a superlicence. But I did quite a bit of testing over the winter and was allowed to race because they thought it was enough. It's a very difficult one. If someone gives you an opportunity to race in F1 you're going to take it, but at his age it could absolutely destroy his career. If it goes well, it's fantastic, but it's on a knife's edge.

There's so much to learn. He's proved that he's quick and I'm sure he's going to be reasonably quick. Is he going to be as quick as [Sebastien] Bourdais? I shouldn't think so, he definitely won't be here. He might be in later on in the season but I don't know how many races they'll give him. It's a difficult position to be in but it's tough, because when someone says you've got the drive it's difficult to turn round and say I'm not ready yet, because it's your dream to race in F1. But it could end his dream of being competitive in F1.

It's not just about driving quick, there's a lot more to it and I'm sure that he doesn't understand all the electronics on an F1 car. The steering wheel to start with is very complicated and to get the pitstops sorted in two days is going to be very difficult. There's a lot to learn and a lot to take in. Not having driven an F1 car around a circuit, I'm surprised he's been allowed to race this weekend. I say good luck to him - it's a risk he's willing to take and for his sake I hope he does a good job.

Q. How hard was it when you started?

JB: There was a lot of pressure when I started because I was one of the first of the new age young drivers. It was a real surprise for me, exiting the pits behind Michael Schumacher, a guy I'd watched on TV for many years and really looked up to. It wasn't driving the car, it was the technical and engineering side. F3 cars are very simple compared to an F1 car. I don't know the reasons for him getting the drive, I can guess, but he's not going to help develop the car! But I hope that he does well for him - it's make or break for his career.

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