Jenson Button concluded his first season as a McLaren driver by taking third place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend. It was his seventh podium of the year and while he only finished fifth in the standings, 26 points behind his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, he was still generally pleased with 2010.
Abu Dhabi may have seen you lose the coveted number one from your car, but it was a good end to the season, wasn’t it?
It was. It was an extremely satisfying race, and it was a fantastic season. To qualify fourth, race hard, run at the front and finish on the podium in the final race of the season not only demonstrates a few things to me personally, but it also shows that, as a team, we have the momentum and fighting spirit to take us into the winter feeling very positive.
On a personal level, it was a real positive to qualify in the top four - it showed that, with a car in which I feel comfortable, we can crack qualifying. In fact, we made a very good step in general with that process over the weekend, which leaves me feeling encouraged for more in 2011.
The car was fantastic all race. We made quite a bold decision to run long in the first stint, but it definitely worked for me. It would have been nice to have bowed out with another victory, but the result was good for the team in general: we managed to get some new parts working properly and they, in turn, helped us to secure second in the constructors' championship.
How would you summarize your first season with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes?
It's really been a fantastic year. It's hard to think that I only joined this team at the start of the year. I've been made to feel so welcome, and such a part of the team, that it feels like I've been here far longer.
Obviously, the highlights for me were the two wins earlier in the season - in Australia and China - but there have been plenty of other highlights: I had some very strong races in Turkey and Canada, and almost took another win at Monza. There are plenty of positives to take away from the year.
The relationship with Lewis [Hamilton], my engineers and my mechanics also worked out really well. I do feel part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes family now. And, like I say, to end the season with two drivers in the top three is very encouraging.
So what can you take into next season? It will soon be time to start preparing for 2011, won’t it?
Absolutely, as I've already said, I'll be putting additional focus on qualifying for 2011. This year, I think I've had some very strong Sunday afternoons, but I probably haven't always made life as easy as I would like on Saturdays. And we know how crucial that is in modern F1 - if I can get qualifying sorted, then I think we can have an even stronger season next year.
Over the winter, it will be a case of sitting down with my engineers, looking at how we can move the car a little bit closer to me when it's on low-fuel and how we can just extract that final tenth from it during Q3.
That's the great thing about the winter: after such a long and intense season, it offers you the opportunity to have a closer look at everything away from the intensity of a fortnightly race schedule.
And it will also be a good opportunity to get even more integrated with the team - it's weird, because it will actually only be my first full winter at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, because I only started working here in January this year.
There's lot I think we can do to make this team stronger and better for the new season - we've got a year's worth of experience under our belts, we've pushed hard all season, and I think we can take that all away and learn from it over the winter.
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