By Jonathan Noble
Q. So can you give us a reading on that? It doesn't look like good news?
Jenson Button: It wasn't a good qualifying. I struggled on the option tyre and I haven't felt very confident on it all weekend. Most people are running it, so we thought we should be running it. I just had a loose rear end, but I still had a lot of understeer in the car. I didn't have any grip, which was my problem in qualifying - especially in mid-speed corners. Even with understeer in the car the rear is sliding, and it doesn't feel very good. That was it really - I just wasn't very quick.
Q. And nothing from the technical debrief gives you any extra insight?
JB: There are a few places I am losing, and I ran a little bit wide on one corner – but it is not just one corner. I just could not find the pace with the soft tyre. With the prime tyre it wasn't too bad and maybe we should have stayed on that.
Q. How will tomorrow go?
JB: Tomorrow will be a tough day. Starting 14th nothing matters except points for me. We have to do something that will help me get points, because I think the race pace is okay. We will try and do something a bit different to everybody else. It is not sort of hang back and hope for the best – we have to be aggressive.
Q. If you look at the last few races, Rubens has been closer than he was earlier in the season or even ahead?
JB: Yeah, especially the last two. The races before when it was cold, often one person was quicker or it was the other, but in the last two races he has been quicker for sure and happy with the car. For me I have an instability issue at the rear end and it is something I didn't have when the car was good earlier in the year. That is my biggest problem.
Q. What do you think about the Red Bulls being at the back end of the top ten?
JB: I don't know what fuel they are on, but I am guessing they are going quite long. In Q2 they were quite quick, but my team-mate is my main rival if the Red Bulls are not performing. Rubens is up in fourth and is doing a good job, so that's it.
Q. Has anything changed in the last few races with the car to make it not to your liking?
JB: No. We change things on the car at every race we go to, aerodynamically, but it is the same on both cars.
Q. Do you keep saying to yourself, 'I'm 18 points clear, I've still got a huge advantage?' and keep smiling?
JB: No, because it is not a huge advantage. I lost eight points to Rubens at the last race, which was frustrating even though it wasn't down to the pace. Here I don't have the pace, and he is starting fourth and I am starting outside the top ten. Even if the positions stay as they are, he is going to gain a lot of points for me this race. It is a lead that is going to disappear very quickly if we start having bad weekends, but at the moment I cannot do anything about it.
Q. But you still back your own ability to pull things out of the bag when the car lets you?
JB: Yeah, for sure. I've won six races this season and the only person to have won more than two. So, yes. But, at the moment, I cannot get the pace out of the car. It is something we need to look at. We have a couple of weeks before Monza and hopefully we can find out the reasons. The car doesn't feel to me like it did earlier in the season. We had a couple of cold races but since it has been warmer, I still can't find a good balance.
Q. This is a circuit you like though...
JB: Yeah, that is why it is frustrating I am so far back. But that is the way it is – it doesn't matter where it is. I am starting 14th on the grid and getting points is going to be very difficult. It is a strange situation this weekend because there are a lot of cars at the front that you would not expect to be at the front. You would expect the Red Bulls to be on pole by three or four tenths but they are not.
If you look at it, it looks like the cars who are quick are the cars who have been doing a lot of low fuel running this weekend. They have found their performance by doing set-up changes on low fuel and they have come through qualifying. I don't know what their race pace is going to be, but I am sure that a lot of the cars at the front, their race pace will not be as good as the Red Bulls. The problem for me is that I am so far back.
Q. How much is your frustration growing now?
JB: Well, it is obviously not a good position to be in. I am leading by quite a bit but with a couple of bad races that will be it. So, it is frustrating but there is also no use in thinking about it too much. You have to concentrate on trying to improve the situation, and that is exactly what I am going to be trying to do.
Q. Does Rubens have a different set-up to you?
JB: We have a different set-up but it is not that different. If you look at Q2, he was four tenths quicker than me. I made a mistake which cost me a few tenths but still I am not on his pace. He has a different set-up, but it is not all set-up for sure.
Belgian GP - Saturday - Team Quotes
Jenson Button (14th, 1:45.251): "I didn't expect to qualify in 14th position today but we really struggled with grip levels, particularly on the softer tyre. The car hasn't felt quite right all weekend and unfortunately I wasn't able to get any more out of it today. Rubens and I are usually very closely matched but he was quick on the option and I wasn't so we need to look into the reasons for that. I just couldn't find any grip on the softer rubber so the rear end felt unstable and I had no confidence under braking, particularly in the middle sector. It's strange as our set-ups are different but not by much. It's going to be very tough in the race from here but at least we have more time to choose our strategy. We need to get it right and see if we can score some points tomorrow."