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Interview with Jenson Button: Title not given up

Interview with Jenson Button
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Have you already given up on defending your title?
J enson Button: Not at all. The score speaks against me, but I only remember the example of Raikkonen three years ago. He was 17 points behind with two races to go. If he hadn't believed in his chance, he would not have become world champion. In my case, the others have to help me now. You have to be out if I still want to become world champion.

You were the hunted last year, you know how the front runner feels in the World Cup. What would you advise him?
Button (laughs): I don't want to give him any advice. Drive as fast as you can and crash into as many cars as you can.

Is it easier to catch up than to keep a lead?
Button: The leader is the only one with something to lose. Its point advantage. 15 points for a third place are worth more today than six before, because there are so many drivers who can drive into the front and take away the other points. My situation in 2009 was different. In the end I didn't have a winning car anymore. Fortunately, the others made enough mistakes.

Are you satisfied with your season?
Button: In principle, yes. After seven years with one team, the most important thing was to integrate myself straight away with another. I've developed the car in a direction that is pretty good, but not yet perfect for me. I have to cut back on my qualifications. I rarely found a good balance with my car. I lack consistency there. My conclusion? With two races to go, I still have a theoretical chance of winning the title. Not bad for my first year on my team. I can be reasonably happy.

How important were the two victories at the beginning of the season?
Button: Very important because it strengthened my position in the team to have. I immediately felt the support I received from the team. I wasn't expecting that so soon.

Has the world title changed anything in your life?
Button: I have become more self-confident, I think more about my abilities, my judgment. That was shown by my two victories at the start of the season under difficult conditions. I made the right decisions at the right time. It had nothing to do with luck. With the world title hadI achieved what I had dreamed of since I was eight. Most of them are never granted that. People listen better to me today.

Was it difficult to integrate into a new team?
Button: It was easy for me . There was no prejudice. McLaren only expected results from me. Although the car was already fully developed, I was still able to give my input and move the car in a direction that suits me better. The team quickly realized that I didn't just get into driving, that I wanted to get involved in the team. And Lewis also understood that two drivers see more than one. Especially because he and I drive so differently. The benefit from this will be even greater in the coming winter, because I'll be there from the start.

As you said, your driving style is completely different from Lewis Hamilton's. Can you learn anything from him at all?
Button: We drive very similar setups, but our driving style is practically the opposite. I am not referring to the general driving style, i.e. more aggressive or round. If you superimpose his and mine curves on the datasheet, you can see that we are practically the opposite of each other in the details. The difference is much bigger than that of my teammates before. Nevertheless we learn from each other. Lewis is very hard to beat because he's always super fast, especially in a car that suits him. This is my challenge.

Against all odds, you're getting on well with Hamilton. Why?
Button: We work well together. Outside of the racetrack, we hardly spend any time together. It's an employment relationship, nothing more. We are both world champions, have had different experiences in our careers and therefore have a wealth of experience and a good exchange of information.

What were your highlights and disappointments in 2010?

Button : Apart from the two victories, I enjoyed Silverstone. To go from 14th on the grid in front of my home crowd to fourth, that was a highlight of the season. As an encore, the only thing missing was the podium. Barcelona was perhaps the most disappointing race. I was fifth and stuck behind Schumacher. My speed would have been good enough to land a lot further up front. Failure in Monaco after one lap is one of the things that can happen. Spa was bad too. I was cleared from the train by Vettel. That wasn't even an attempt to overtake. I was outside and he could go on.

Did you make mistakes?
Button: Not in the race. In qualification, yes. Sometimes with the setup, sometimes in the crucial lap.

Isn't it frustrating to only finish fifth in without a mistaketo be in the World Cup?
Button: A lot of things are out of your hands. If I had stayed second at Spa, I would have led the World Cup there. Last year I won the World Cup thanks to Constance. Alonso won both of his titles with this quality. If the Red Bull had always implemented their training performance in the race, they would now lead with 150 points. You don't automatically win the championship even with the fastest car.

You are fighting against four opponents. Is it difficult to keep an eye on everyone?
Button: It's impossible. So you just have to focus on yourself and try to get the best possible result. The driver who is ahead in the World Cup has the hardest time. He will say that the races in the end are races like any other, but that's not true. The leader always has to calculate, has to see what the others are doing. But that's where the problem begins. You never keep an eye on them all. And this year it's especially tricky. If you put in a bad race one day, you won't have one in front of you, but four.

You relaxed or hungry in the World Cup final?
Button: Both. I'm relaxed because I've already achieved my goal. I'm hungry because I want to do it a second time. I would then be the only Englishman who managed to do that twice in a row. And the first since Fangio, who made it into two different teams in a row.

You became world champion in Interlagos last year. What do you remember?
Button: It got me the title and it was one of my toughest races ever. Having a Brazilian as one of your opponents in Brazil is tough. The Brazilians let me feel it after my bad training and after Rubens' best training time. I went to prayer with myself that evening, and on Sunday I came to the racetrack and said to myself: You have to win the world championship today. After that there were so many emotions that I can hardly describe them. First I celebrated on the track, then in the evening with the team. But after five minutes I left, drove back to the hotel and locked myself in my room. I was so tired, so burned out and yet so happy at the same time. I just wanted to be alone.

Do you drive the last two races according to the motto: All or nothing?
Button: I will definitely not start any crazy actions. If I have the feeling that my front wheels could be ahead of those of the other car at the corner entrance, then I attack. If it only reaches the side box, I'll leave it. I know my limits.


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