Button: It has really been a fantastic year

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2010, GP of Abu Dhabi, 02 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes), 01 Jenson Button (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),

Jenson Button with team mate Lewis Hamilton on the Abu Dhabi podium on nthe night his reign as F1 World Champion ended

Nov.21 (Grand Prix 247) Somewhat lost in the hullabaloo of the crowning of a new Formula 1 World Champion, was the fact that Jenson Button’s reign as champion came to an end. The Briton won the 2009 title with Brawn GP – which subsequently morphed into Mercedes GP – and took his number one plate to McLaren Mercedes where he enjoyed a strong season. He reflects on the season past and delves on the future.

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2010, GP of Abu Dhabi, 01 Jenson Button (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),

Jenson crosses the Yas Marina finish line to bring an end to his 2010 season

Abu Dhabi may have seen you lose the coveted number one from your car, but it was a good end to the season, wasn’t it?
“It was. It was an extremely satisfying race, and it was a fantastic season. To qualify fourth, race hard, run at the front and finish on the podium in the final race of the season not only demonstrates a few things to me personally, but it also shows that, as a team, we have the momentum and fighting spirit to take us into the winter feeling very positive.”

“On a personal level, it was a real positive to qualify in the top four, it showed that, with a car in which I feel comfortable, we can crack qualifying. In fact, we made a very good step in general with that process over the weekend, which leaves me feeling encouraged for more in 2011.”

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 12 November 2010.

It was an intense season all the way to the very end

“The car was fantastic all race. We made quite a bold decision to run long in the first stint, but it definitely worked for me. It would have been nice to have bowed out with another victory, but the result was good for the team in general: we managed to get some new parts working properly and they, in turn, helped us to secure second in the constructors’ championship.”

How would you summarise your first season with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes?
“It’s really been a fantastic year. It’s hard to think that I only joined this team at the start of the year. I’ve been made to feel so welcome, and such a part of the team, that it feels like I’ve been here far longer.”

Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday 28 March 2010.

Jenson celebrates his first victory for McLaren in Melbourne

“Obviously, the highlights for me were the two wins earlier in the season, in Australia and China, but there have been plenty of other highlights: I had some very strong races in Turkey and Canada, and almost took another win at Monza. There are plenty of positives to take away from the year.”

“The relationship with Lewis, my engineers and my mechanics also worked out really well. I do feel part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes family now. And, like I say, to end the season with two drivers in the top three is very encouraging.”

So what can you take into next season? It will soon be time to start preparing for 2011, won’t it?
“Absolutely, as I’ve already said, I’ll be putting additional focus on qualifying for 2011. This year, I think I’ve had some very strong Sunday afternoons, but I probably haven’t always made life as easy as I would like on Saturdays. And we know how crucial that is in modern Formula 1, if I can get qualifying sorted, then I think we can have an even stronger season next year.”

Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren  Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday 18 April 2010.

Jenson celebrates win number two in China

“Over the winter, it will be a case of sitting down with my engineers, looking at how we can move the car a little bit closer to me when it’s on low-fuel and how we can just extract that final tenth from it during Q3.”

“That’s the great thing about the winter: after such a long and intense season, it offers you the opportunity to have a closer look at everything away from the intensity of a fortnightly race schedule.”

“And it will also be a good opportunity to get even more integrated with the team. It’s weird, because it will actually only be my first full winter at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, because I only started working here in January this year.”

“There’s a lot I think we can do to make this team stronger and better for the new season. We’ve got a year’s worth of experience under our belts, we’ve pushed hard all season, and I think we can take that all away and learn from it over the winter.”