Q&A with Jenson Button Looking ahead to the 2012 Santander British Grand Prix, Jenson Button talks about the season so far and racing on home ground.
You began the season with a win in Australia but it’s been tough going for you since then, and there have been seven different winners in eight races. Why is Formula 1 so unpredictable this year?
Jenson: “There were a few changes to the technical regulations before the start of the season, and they have done a really good job of bringing the teams closer together. The tires have changed as well – the way the grip arrives when they come up to temperature really is like turning on a light switch, and if you work them too hard or stay out on them too long, they drop off again just as quickly.
“So what you have is a competitive environment where little things can make a really big difference, and where your circumstances can change really quickly. I’m comfortable with that because everyone is on equal footing, although it can be frustrating when things don’t go your way.
“If you take the last Grand Prix as an example, it was the kind of race where you could be 15th or you could finish on the podium. I had an issue with the clutch at the start and then had to back off to avoid another car at the first corner, but apart from that it came down to strategy and luck – when the Safety Car came out, a couple of other drivers took a gamble on changing tires and it paid off. That sort of tactic can easily not work, but it can also make for an exciting final few laps as drivers on fresh tires fight their way past people on older rubber.
What does racing at home mean to you?
Jenson: “For any racing driver racing at your home circuit is so so special and one any driver would want to win. It’s a familiar environment, a circuit I’ve grown up with, and best of all you have thousands of people there all wanting you to do well. Year on year the crowd at Silverstone and the level of support is incredible.
“Winning the Santander British Grand Prix would mean everything to me because this isn’t a race that’s traditionally been kind to me. Winning on home soil – and for a British team like Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – would be up there with winning the world championship.
“Also, with the weather we’ve been having in the UK recently, I want to put smiles on the fans’ faces!"
How do you rate your chances at the Santander British Grand Prix this weekend?
Jenson: “There were a lot of positives to take away from the last Grand Prix in Valencia. The car got better and better throughout the race and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes pit crew set a new speed record – they changed Lewis’s wheels in well under three seconds. That illustrates that it’s not just the drivers who are pushing, it’s the whole team.
“Silverstone is a fast and flowing track, a classic Grand Prix circuit, and I think it suits the philosophy of our car better than the slower ones. We never stop developing the car, either, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the designers back at the McLaren Technology Centre have been working on over the past two weeks.”
Finally, do you have any words for your home fans in Frome?
Jenson: “I’m proud of where I grew up and, as ever,
I’d like to say a big thank-you for always being there and for believing in me.
“I always look forward to racing on home ground knowing that I’ve got so much love and support. I hope to give you something to be proud of this weekend.”