Formula 1: Jenson Button the tire whisperer

Formula 1: Buttons secret of success in Australia
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T he list of the fastest race laps tells the whole story of the Australian GP. Jenson Button is the fastest of the drivers to complete the race on a set of dry tires. With a time of 1.29.291 minutes on lap 52 he was clearly ahead of Felipe Massa (1.29.537 minutes), Robert Kubica (1.29.570 minutes) and Fernando Alonso (1.29.707 minutes), who used the same tactics had entered the race.

In the end, Button drove around with the oldest slippers. He was the first to switch to slicks on lap six. His soles had 52 laps on the tread at the end. But Button is known for his clean driving style. He is also called the tire whisperer. 'Winning doesn't just mean being quick,' smiled the world champion. 'Sometimes it also depends on who is best with his tires.'

Earlier tire changes put Button in 2nd place

In the During the rainy season, Button was sixth. When he saw that a dry track was forming, he asked the pits to switch from intermediates to slicks. 'I was out of balance on the intermediates. The car oversteered terribly. As soon as I was in the pit lane, I regretted my decision. It was still incredibly wet there.' He promptly plowed through the gravel bed at turn 6.

Without the slip, the Englishman would have stayed ahead of Sebastian Vettel when he copied Button's decision two laps later. 'But Vettel was unbeatable for me,' admitted the Melbourne winner. 'The gap always fluctuated a bit, but I assume Sebastian checked everything.' Button realized that he needed racing luck that day to repeat his win from last year. 'The circumstances and Vettel's failure helped me.'

Button without a chance against Vettel

An attack on Vettel was taboo anyway. When Button made steam once and caught up eight tenths, the pits warned him: 'You have to finish the race on these tires.' The rear tires immediately grained. 'I flattened the front wing a little and kept going in overdrive. When Vettel was out, I knew that I could win the race.'

Perhaps a decision by the team also helped him. A wrong decision, as it later turned out: McLaren brought Lewis Hamilton to thePits a tire change after biting into Robert Kubica's Renault for a few laps. 'I don't understand what McLaren did there. Hamilton was by far the fastest man in the field,' said Kubica. 'If he had made it past me, he would have got a button too.'

Hamilton complains of wrong tactics

Hamilton has internalized and publicly complained about the team tactics. There they apologized by wanting to get him out of traffic after many unsuccessful attempts to overtake Kubica. For Button, McLaren is not yet a real winner. 'We're too slow in qualifying. We have to improve on one lap.'


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