By Jonathan Noble
It was another difficult weekend for Jenson Button in Japan, but the Briton still managed to keep his championship lead almost intact as Formula 1 heads to Brazil for the penultimate round of the season.
Aware that it's his rivals who need to attack to keep their title hopes alive, Button is aiming to have an error-free race at Interlagos.
After the Japanese Grand Prix, AUTOSPORT heard from the Briton on his views on the race and the challenges ahead.
Q. You salvaged a point here. Are you pleased with that?
Jenson Button: It was tough in qualifying. My qualifying lap was not too bad. The car was transformed from Q2 to Q3 for some reason - it had been very good in Q2. We have got to look at the front wings, and we are going through the data now to see what we can do because something is not working correctly. Then we got put back for not lifting under a yellow - the same as Rubens – but the difference was Rubens only went back one place on the grid, I went back three.
So that made it very difficult for me being back in 10th with a KERS car in 11th. I always seem to find them behind me. The KERS car got past me in Turn 1 so I was in 11th place, and fought my way past Kubica in the race, and then really when I had clear air I just had to push like qualifying. I did some really good laps, which brought me to the back of Rosberg. I pitted, came out and caught up to Rubens who was 15-20 seconds up the road after 15 laps. So my pace was very good.
Then after the safety car, Rosberg suddenly appeared three cars in front of me. That was very surprising.
Q. You are battling your way through the second half of the season. Do you feel someone is smiling down on you, considering you are still picking up points all the time?
JB: Yeah, but that is because we are doing the best job we can in a difficult situation. I got a five-place penalty yesterday and so did Rubens. I went back three places, he went back one – so in that way you would say no.
We are getting ourselves into these tricky situations and we are getting ourselves out of them in the race. Hopefully in Brazil we will not have to fight back from a bad grid slot – and we can start at the front and finish at the front.
Q. You are half a point away from the Constructors' Championship now. How does that make you feel?
JB: I feel it will go our way when we go to Brazil, then everyone should be very, very proud of themselves in this team. They have been through a lot. It has been a rollercoaster throughout the season but also last winter, so if it does happen then congratulations to everyone.
It is going to be a very emotional moment for them, if it happens here. And well done to Ross Brawn – he has achieved a lot in his Formula 1 career but this is very different from being a team owner. Also, after such a difficult winter, we didn't even think we would be on the grid in Australia so to come away with a victory there, and many victories this season, then to come away with the constructors' title will be a very special feeling. But we will wait and see.
Q. The stewards decided not to take action against Nico Rosberg. What is your reaction to that?
JB: That is their decision. That is it. I don't know all the information – whereas the FIA and the stewards do. They have got all the information in front of them, so whatever their decision is that is what it is.
Q. Are you disappointed?
JB: Well, always when you think someone has done something wrong and they don't get penalised you are disappointed. But it is not going to change anything massively I think.
Q. At the very worst you are going to be going to the final race of the season with Rubens needing to beat you by five points. That is a pretty comfortable position to be in, isn't it?
JB: I haven't thought about it like that. I really haven't, but that is so true. Whatever happens in Brazil I will have a four-point lead. So, I lost a point today which is frustrating because my pace was very good compared to Rubens. But I started a long way behind him, so losing one point is not so bad. And it is seven points per race rather than five points per race that he needs to be beat me by. So, it is not a bad position.
I go to Brazil positive and looking forward to the challenge, because it is going to be a challenge. Sebastian is quick and the Red Bull seems very quick. It has still got high-speed corners, and they have showed they are quick on low speed corners like Singapore, so they will be difficult to beat. And Rubens is always quick there – so it is going to be a challenging weekend, but a fun weekend as well.
Q. After what happened two years ago to Lewis again Kimi, you don't think lightning can strike twice do you?
JB: Well, it is all about mistakes. With them they had a very fast car, and for whatever reason they did not finish races. It is about finishing races and picking up points. We obviously want the best result possible, which is to win races, and we will get as close as we can. But it is about not making mistakes, that is the most important thing.
Q. Was the Sutil-Kovalainen accident a bit of a break for you?
JB: Well, it was happening almost every lap really. Sutil was all over Kovalainen, so it was going to happen. And you could just see it happening – it is twice Sutil has spun around in races.
Q. And you had a couple of one-stoppers ahead of you early on?
JB: Yeah, it was just so frustrating. Wherever I am on the grid I always have a KERS car behind me it seems. He got past me at the start and then it made it very difficult from then because my pace was not that good, and I didn't know what my pace was until I got past those two. The pace was actually quite good and I was able to pull out a gap to the cars behind in three or four laps, and they were stopping seven laps later than me. So I had to make the laps count and I did, just like the last couple of races. I did that on the second pit stop as well. Obviously the safety car came out, and that is the reason why I didn't finish seventh.
Q. Kimi disappeared on the super soft. Did you think about that for the second stop?
JB: No we didn't. We've had no information this weekend about what tyres are best, because we have not had much running. My pace compared to the cars around me was good on the prime, so it was the safest option for us. Our pace was nowhere near what the Red Bulls were, they were staggeringly quick – over half a second per lap. Compared to the people we were racing our pace was good, so we decided to go with the prime.