Jenson Button Q&A: A very sweet victory

18 Mar 2012

Jenson Button was not favourite for the win, but he did it. He put it down to reacting better to the lights at the start - and McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton playing it fair into Turn 1. Whatever it was, it means the 2009 title holder leaves Melbourne with maximum points - and the sweet taste of having started the season by leaving five other F1 champions eating his dust…

Q: Jenson, how sweet does this win taste?

Jenson Button: Very sweet. The team has done a fantastic job. Lewis on pole and me starting from P2 and then taking the lead - that was awesome. I had to pinch myself during the race to make sure that this was not a dream! (laughs) But of course it was a dream start for us as a team. It was very important that we’ve got that in the bank early on.

Q: You had a good lead in the race and then the safety car comes out. What was going through your mind at that moment?

JB: Well, that was one of those moments when you start to ask why this safety car was invented! (laughs) Probably it was invented to make racing more interesting and to let the guy in the lead never be too sure about his position. It was a tricky situation because it was almost six o’clock and the temperature was going down, which made it quite tricky to keep the heat up in the medium tyres. I think I did a good job in keeping the heat and then got a good gap after the safety car as I knew that this was key - I probably only did it to annoy Sebastian (Vettel) because this is what he normally does! (laughs) It is my third victory here in Melbourne in four years so the place is obviously good to me.

Q: What about that new celebration gesture that you tried today - it looked slightly reminiscent of Sebastian Vettel’s…

JB: Well, I thought what can I do? Sebastian has got that crooked finger so I don’t know what to do - so I tried many things and I don’t know which one I am going to use again.

Q: Tell us something about your start. Lewis was on the clean side of the grid, but you got away in P1. How did you do it?

JB: I think I reacted well to the lights, but after that I think I didn’t get a perfect start - but it was obviously good enough to get past Lewis. Though I have to say he was very fair and we did not end up in a situation pushing each other off the circuit.

Q: You just mentioned your third victory here in four years. When did you know that you would be able to add win number three?

JB: I tell you, it is in doubt every single lap. It is a tough race because you are close to the wall so many times, so it is amazing to come away with this victory.

Q: How important was that victory, as it has been shown that whoever wins that first race might also win the championship…

JB: Oh yes, that sounds good! (laughs) It was nice to win here for the morale of the team - not that we need that, but it’s nice anyway. And I did the fastest lap - to show others what we are capable of.

Q: McLaren were really fast at the end of 2011, so you’ve been able to carry the full momentum into 2012…

JB: Yes, and we also knew that if we could have a good winter we would really do very well at the start of the season - and we showed it today. I feel so much at home in the car, which is so important for me. It gives me a lot of confidence and hopefully we will see a lot of it this year. The last two seasons have been tricky for us at the start of the year, so this is going down very, very well for us.

Q: It looked so easy for you, winning this race. Was it really the case?

JB: It always looks easy for the guy in front, but believe me, it rarely is. The car was doing great today, but when you pull out a lead of about 10 seconds and try to control that - and then you lose it all to the safety car - this is mentally pretty tough because then you start to think the whole time about the tyres, the brakes and hope everything goes well for the re-start. Sebastian is very good at re-starts- I have only started one time in front of him at a re-start which was in Suzuka - so I pulled everything together and tried to do two good laps, as after two laps you can use DRS. But I knew it was not over as there were still 13 laps to go. The Red Bull is strong. They are probably not as strong as we expected in qualifying, but in the race they are. Somehow it swept over from last year where we haven’t been so strong in qualifying but in the race we were. Watch out for them in Malaysia, as they will be strong there. But we also will be there trying to stop their ambitions.

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