Q&A with Jenson Button ahead of the 2011 Belgian GP

By on Monday, August 22, 2011

Photo credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

How was the summer break for you?
I went to Hawaii, which is one of my favourite places in the world. The weather was fantastic and I had a great time for 10 days – even though I had to take some time out to write a speech because I was Best Man at a friend’s wedding straight afterwards. All in all, it was a great break.

Are you ready to go racing again?
Four weeks out of the car is a long time and I’m definitely ready to go racing again. But it was important to have the break, particularly for the guys in the team. When you think how hard everyone has worked this year, and how much we’ve turned around the performance of the MP4-26, it was good for everyone to have some time with their families and friends.

Do you look forward to racing at Spa-Francorchamps?
Every driver loves the challenge of Spa. It’s one of the old-school circuits: very high speed and fast flowing. You don’t have to react as quickly as you do at Suzuka because there isn’t the same number of high-speed changes of direction, but it’s still a phenomenal challenge. It’s a great feeling when you put together a good lap.

Do you expect the MP4-26 to be competitive?
I hope we’ll be competitive at every track from now on, but I think the car will be very good at Spa for a couple of reasons. First, our new rear wing should work well there and, second, you need a good engine, which we’ve got in the Mercedes. I think we’ll be one of the teams to beat.

How will you deploy the DRS around the lap during qualifying?
I don’t know what we’re going to be doing with DRS. I won’t be the first person trying it through Eau Rouge, that’s for sure! But someone will try it because there are lots of potential gains up the hill to Les Combes. Through Pouhon, you’ll probably have it on and off; you’ll need maximum down force to get the car into the first apex, before flicking the DRS open for the remainder of the corner to increase your exit speed. Blanchimont will be touch-and-go as well, so there’s going to be a lot to think about around the lap.

Are you expecting the weather to be a factor over the weekend?
The Ardennes has its own microclimate, so you’re always looking up at the clouds. Rain isn’t the problem; it’s the fact that it can be wet at one point on the track and dry at another because Spa is the longest track on the calendar. You then have to make the call about whether or not to pit for intermediate tyres, or stay out on slicks – just like we did in Hungary. Strategy goes out the window when it’s like that; you find yourself having to think on your feet.

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