Jenson Button is joined by his team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg to review the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix.
1. Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), 1h46m42.163s
2. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), 1h46m43.693s
3. Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), 1h46m51.647s
Q: Jenson, what a race. Another great call for tyres at the start, a safety car re-start for you to control and then some heart-stopping moments in the final laps.
Jenson BUTTON: I mean the safety car for clearing debris off the circuit was just… I had my heart in my mouth when that happened as I just did not know what was going to happen. We had built up such a good gap and then, unfortunately, everyone else caught up, so it made it very tricky. At the end of the race when we put the inters on, the new set, I felt really good. The car felt great and I wasn’t pushing the tyres too much. I could see I was pulling a gap to Lewis and then it started racing again. I made a mistake at the hairpin and ran wide and from then on I just could not get any heat in the tyres and every bit of water I touched I aquaplaned, so I really had to back off. This victory is very special and really means a lot. It was a tricky race out there and again we called it right and it means a lot. It is not just about being quick, it is about reading the conditions and obviously coming across the line just one second in front of Lewis I think shows what a team effort this has been and what a great result for the whole team.
Q: Lewis, the first time you and Jenson have been on the podium in F1, standing together. But quite a battle you had to get there though.
Lewis HAMILTON: I had quite an eventful race. First of all congratulations to Jenson he did an incredible job today and yes, made the better choice on the tyres. But it was very tough. Obviously at the beginning with the weather it wasn’t easy making the call or when to change the tyres. I chose very, very late, when I was half-way round the last corner and clearly it wasn’t the right choice. I fought my way through, we both did a tremendous job and it is really down to an awesome job the team are doing. We have been working very hard, so it is great for the team.
Q: The stewards are still looking into the pit lane incident with Sebastian Vettel. Any worries on that one?
LH: Not really aware of. Not really sure what they are talking about.
Q: When yourself and Sebastian came out of the pits together. It got very close after the pit stop and the stewards are having a look.
LH: Are they.
Q: Everything okay as far as you are concerned?
LH: As far as I am concerned I think it was okay. I think the team waited for quite some time and they released me when they thought it was the right time but I got quite a lot of wheel spin, so I struggled to get out the actual box. As I came out I noticed Sebastian was there and he was pushing me a little bit to the right. We touched wheels but otherwise I think it was fair.
Q: Nico, for you the second time in a row you have been third on the podium. Like Jenson the right call on tyres at the start of the race.
Nico ROSBERG: It was a good call and I took the advice from my team and my engineer and eventually just decided, okay, let’s give it a go and stay out. It turned out to be really good. Out there you are saying please stop raining, please stop raining’ and it is just so on the edge. If it rains a little bit more it is the wrong call. If it rains a little bit less it is fine and that went really well. It was nice to be leading the race for a long time from there. But I think I got a little bit more tyre deg than Jenson and as soon as it started raining a bit more again I struggled a little bit more and made a mistake, so he came by. But, in general, obviously I am really happy with this result. It is a good step again in the right direction.
Q: And comfortably ahead again of your team-mate. Life at Mercedes has been very good for you so far.
NR: At the moment I am feeling really comfortable in the team and I am really thankful also. They have helped me integrate really well, so it is all coming together for me nicely. We have had a good step forward again this weekend. We had some upgrades for this track, very small actually, so we have a lot more to come, so it is quite promising for us.
Q: Jenson, the World Champion leads the World Championship table after the first four races. Take us through some of the highs and maybe some of the lows of your time at McLaren so far.
JB: I think you can pick the highs and the lows out pretty easily. I have had two wins and a seventh and eighth, so you know. The tricky conditions helped me but as I say again it is not luck we came out on top today. We chose correctly in the conditions. The start of the race, as Nico said, was you know… It was the right call definitely but it was very, very slippery out there. But we knew how quickly the soft tyres were going to destroy themselves, the inters. So the right call and later in the race the right call as well. My first few months with the team have been extraordinary you could say and I really feel a part of this team now. It is a nice position to be in after four races, leading the championship. Three weeks break now. I am going to enjoy that very much and I am looking forward to Barcelona.
Q: I hope you call all get home okay.
JB: It is alright. I am going on holiday.
Q: Jenson, it was a pretty amazing race for us. What was it like from where you were Jenson?
JB: Pretty damn good I must say, except for the last four laps. They were a little bit scary. It was raining a lot at the end and I was really struggling with the tyres. I pulled a good gap on Lewis but maybe I pushed the tyres a bit hard and when it rained I was just skating all over the place and as you saw, I went straight on at the hairpin. Made it difficult for myself but great to come away with a victory.
Q: How important was that early call on tyres, do you think?
JB: Really important. That made the race. If we didn’t have that safety car later on for debris we would have been a long… well, I don’t know, I don’t know how quick Lewis was in the race. But the safety car definitely helped the situation for people that stopped for inters. Staying on the drys was the right thing. You wouldn’t think it driving around as it was raining quite a bit but we got a lot of grip from those tyres. We just had to be a little bit careful as every time you arrived at a corner it was a different condition to the previous lap, either better or worse, so it was pretty tricky but it was definitely the right call. When the team called me in for inters that was the right call as well because the tyres had started graining on the front left and the rear left and it was too wet for the slicks.
Q: Where does this victory rate amongst the other ones?
JB: For me it is my best victory. Every time that you win I think it becomes your best victory but this one was very special as it was very tough conditions and the great thing is our pace was good today. It wasn’t just the luck of calling the weather, we had good pace. The team towards the end of the race said you are two seconds odd quicker than most people except for Lewis who was doing the same time as you.’ The pace was very good in those conditions and it is great to see that. We still don’t know where we are in the dry but we are going to forget about it at the moment as we are just going to enjoy this victory in the wet. We have proved that our car is good over the race distance.
Q: People were talking perhaps about going onto wet settings, going onto dry settings. Was there any difference for you?
JB: I didn’t do wet or dry settings, so I don’t know.
Q: But in terms of yesterday, did you set the car up for today?
JB: You want to be quick in qualifying. That is so important these days, so you work on getting a good set up for qualifying but you also need a car that is good in the race. Cars that are good in the dry normally work in the wet as well, reasonably well. I think you have got to go for a general balance of wet and dry. It seemed to work for us. I don’t know the pace of the other quick cars that were quick in qualifying but for us it looked very good. We were able to pull a good gap, cruise a few laps before it started raining, then I had my heart in my mouth while I was trying to keep the thing on the road.
Q: Lewis, what was it like for you at the end because the gap was really fluctuating between you and Jenson?
LH: Yeah, very tough for me at the end. The same as Jenson. My tyres were finished. I came into the pits, I think, a lap or two earlier than him and pushed as hard as I could to close the gap. It wasn’t particularly easy, simply because for my first stop I came in too early which was really the wrong call for us and kind of ruined the race a little bit in terms of obviously putting on the wrong tyres. At the end after the safety car I was seventh, so I had a long way to come from, as before that I was something like fourth or fifth, so I lost some more spaces, so I had to work hard to catch up Jenson. After that I came into the pits and pushed so hard, so I think I ruined the tyres and it was the same for Jenson and he started to pull away. At the end he started to struggle. I was struggling but closing a little bit and he had an off. It was very similar times but I think we did an awesome job between us both. I am very happy that we could get a one-two. The first one-two this year and hopefully the first of many.
Q: But you had a fantastic race. You were racing somebody, Nico, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian in the pit lane. It was absolutely fantastic.
LH: Maybe for you it was. It was for me. It was definitely an exciting race. I just felt that every time I made up the places somehow I would lose them again. If I made up three places I would lose two. Make them up again and I would lose one, so it was very hard, a very tough race but I am very happy with the result. To climb my way back up to second was a good job, so I am happy with that.
Q: And seeing you racing with Michael. I think that is basically what we have all waited for, for the last three races. It was tremendous.
LH: Yeah, I mean Michaelâ€¦ I couldn’t really see him in my mirrors and it wasn’t easy. It was ages to get past him, same as Nico. The two Mercedes obviously have got very good engines and we had a good battle. I think I lost a little bit of time behind him but once I got past I felt I was gone.
Q: Nico, what about you, especially with your old team-mate coming up behind you?
NR: It was quite an eventful race also. Really good choice at the beginning as well. I mean I just used the advice from the team and decided to give it a go and stay out. Then just hoping as it was so much on the limit. If it rained a little bit more it was the wrong decision, if it rained a little bit less it was fine, so it rained a little bit less, so it was great. Then I think I had a little bit more deg than Jenson, so as soon as it started raining I was struggling a little bit more with my tyre temperature and things like that, so he managed to get by me. From then on we didn’t quite have the pace on the intermediates and so Lewis was pretty fast when he came up from behind. But I had quite good fun with Lewis. After he got me I thought okay, he is never coming by me again.’ I think that was the only place he could have overtaken me but still third place was great and it was really tough at the end with (Fernando) Alonso. I was a bit worried as my tyres were shot and as soon as it started drizzling a bit it was really difficult out there but I think he must have been struggling quite a bit too, so it worked out great and I am really pleased for everybody.
Q: He did seem to get really close and then you just managed to maintain the gap.
NR: I was taking it easy. It was a compromise as you have to take care of your tyres but at the same time push enough, so he doesn’t come by and you don’t know how much he has pushed or what pace he has, so it is difficult but really happy to have made it out in front of him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Gary Rose The Press Association) Lewis, another podium finish and another great drive. There were some reports out today that you’re not speaking with your father. Do you feel that that is the case and that you’re doing perfectly fine on your own at the moment?
LH: Yeah, I’m doing perfectly fine, enjoying life, taking my time in the decision process of finding a new manager, in no particular rush. I’m speaking to the family, I don’t speak to them every single day but things are fine.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport) To Jenson and Lewis: who made your decision at the beginning to come in or not to come in for tyres?
LH: For me, I was speaking to the guys down the back straight and they weren’t clear whether we should come in or not. I came on the radio at the last corner I think it was, when the safety car came out and said shall I box now?’ and there wasn’t a fast enough communication between the team and they didn’t get back to me in time. I got halfway round the last corner and I think they said something, I think they said box this lap’ and so I turned right but I wasn’t really sure, so I just pulled in and at the end of the day it wasn’t the right call, whether it was mine or theirs. At the last moment, I think I turned because I thought that that was what I was meant to do. Unfortunately it lost us a little bit of ground but we made up for it.
JB: The call at the start of the race; we discussed it on the radio, the same as Lewis, on the back straight and they said pit this lap if you feel it’s too wet,’ so I decided to stay out. And then later on in the race, they made the call to go to inters, which was definitely the right call. I was thinking of staying out again and they made the right call there: one all. I think what won us the race today was the right calls for the right conditions and being on the right tyre at the right time. It makes such a difference.
Q: Jenson, how satisfying is this to get one over Red Bull? They sat where you are yesterday, very pleased after qualifying, and you both said on Friday that you suspected that they could go a lot quicker. How satisfying was this?
JB: I don’t think it’s just because Red Bull were sat here. It’s always massively satisfying when you win a Grand Prix, it means so much, and when you get a one-two with the team. It’s been a long time for myself and it’s been a long time for Lewis, I think, since we’ve had one-twos. So yeah, it’s a very special feeling and I can’t wait to get back there and see the team. They do so much work over the weekends and I can’t wait to get back down there and see them. This is a great result for us, and I’m leading the championship now. Red Bull have been very quick all year, like they were last year at the start of the season, but we’re leading the championship at the moment which is a great position to be in. There’s still a lot of work to do to find some pace but that’s what we’re working on, we’re working very hard and it’s great to get these results when maybe we haven’t quite got the legs on the Red Bulls, so these points mean a lot to us, and hopefully when we get to Barcelona, we will be there fighting with the Red Bulls in qualifying and the race.
LH: Like Jenson said, it’s a great feeling for the team, rather than worrying about whether or not we beat the others. Obviously we want to finish ahead of the others but it’s more the effort that the team puts together and the effort that we all put in through all the testing we did, to finally be here, having the pace but not quite getting it in qualifying but finally our first one-two in a race. I know the team have all got their red shirts on, for sure, and we will be celebrating tonight.
Q: (StÃ©phane BarbÃ© L’Equipe) Lewis, please could you tell us a little bit about your pit stop alongside Vettel? Even the entry into the pit lane was quite tricky.
LH: I don’t really remember too much about it. I think Vettel got on the outside of me on the exit of the last corner; I was worried that he was going to turn into the last corner and I was going straight, so I just kept going and he came with me. We got round into the pit lane, it was fine. When I did the pit stop the guys waited for some time to let all the cars go past and they released me at what I thought was a good time and there’s a big, long, blue line down the pit lane which is all painted and it’s so slippery. As soon as I hit that I had some major wheel spin and lost a bit of traction. Unfortunately that let Vettel get alongside me, but otherwise it was good racing.
Q: (Beniamino Natale Ansa) Nico, looks like you are driver number one in your team and number two is Michael Schumacher, so my question is, how does it feel?
NR: It’s definitely not the case. From the beginning on we have been even in the team and I was saying even before, when everybody saw Michael was number one and me number two it’s even, we both get the same possibilities, but of course I’m very, very happy with the way it’s going for me, really getting some consistent results, making the best of it, so I’m really pleased with my season so far. And it’s nice also, I’m bonding well with the whole team, it’s been important for me also to work hard to get some respect also within the team and things like that as soon as possible, and I think I’ve managed to do that quite well, so I have quite a strong position now in the team which is really nice, so that’s why I have quite high hopes for what’s to come.
Q: (Marco Degl’Innocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) The same issue: yesterday, when I asked Ross Brawn if the pupil has overcome the teacher he said at the moment.’ Do you think this moment will last long?
NR: I don’t know. Before the season I was hoping to be on one level with Michael, that would have been fantastic for the whole season and at the moment I’m in front which is great but I expect him to be right there again at the next weekend of course and to be fighting with him would be fantastic for the rest of the season and would be good for the team also. I’m very confident that I can do a great job all year.
Q: (Chinese media) To all the drivers: because of the volcano eruption, a lot of airports are closed. So what are your plans after this race?
JB: I was always going to go away for a few days, relaxing after this one, but I’m hopefully going to be heading back to Europe at the end of the week, so we will see about that. We might all be driving back which would be fun.
NR: Trans-Siberian train.
JB: We’ll rent some cars and race it back. No. Sorry. Go on the train.
LH: I’ve got a sponsor appearance in South Africa, so I’ve got to travel there and then go back to Europe.
JB: You do so many sponsor appearances!
NR: For me, I’d always planned to go to Thailand, so I’m going to go to Thailand for a week and then back to Europe after that.
JB: See you there.
Q: (Chinese media) Jenson, it seems that your tactics were quite similar in Australia and in Shanghai and you have had good fortune in both. It seems you are good at start strategy; was it similar in Australia and here?
JB: I don’t know. It’s a difficult one to answer but I felt that it was the right thing to do, to stay out. A few other drivers did it as well. I wasn’t alone in that one. Yeah, I’m sure I will make the wrong calls as well. It doesn’t always happen that you get the right call. Sometimes you’ve got to take those risks and that’s what we did and it paid off again.
Q: (Chinese media) Lewis, what was your feeling when you followed Michael, do you feel any pressure after that kind of exciting fighting, and you’re successful? What’s the secret?
LH: Jenson says tell the truth.’ It’s just as exciting as racing with any other driver.
Q: (Chinese media) To Lewis and Jenson, as we all know, this is the last year of the contract between FOM and Shanghai and maybe this is the last time you are appearing here. What is your deepest impression of Shanghai?
JB: I like this circuit. It’s never going to be our decision whether we’re racing here next year, but I think you guys have done a great job with this circuit and I think that the facilities are pretty special, there aren’t many circuits like this. And I think you’ve had some great racing here. You’ve had a different winner every year since this Grand Prix started so yeah, I think it’s a great Grand Prix, but it’s not my decision and I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation, so it’s unfair for me to say whether it should be on the calendar or not.
LH: I think it’s a very, very impressive city, lots of great restaurants, seems to be surrounded by lots and lots of good people. There’s something like 24m people here, so it’s huge in comparison to all the other cities we go to. But when it comes to the track, for me I love this track, I’ve always generally gone well here. Not the best memory in terms of the end result in 2007 but a great weekend. 2008 was a great weekend. Generally, every trip here has been fantastic for me. And one particular thing I would say is the fans. You travel the world and you go to all these different races and you have lots of fans at each track, but I’ve never known apart from the British fans who come here and back home this is probably the second most incredible place in terms of the support you get from the fans. They’re waiting at your hotel in the morning, they’re waiting at the airport and they buy you gifts and they’re just so excited and enthusiastic. I’ve got a flag in my room which was given to me by a fan. I’ve got all these letters back in my room which I have read and I think that for me, that’s what powers the season and through the race weekend, so I’m most appreciative of that.
JB: It’s also great to see so many people here. The grandstand was pretty much full today, which assumes that the sport is getting bigger and bigger here in China which is very good to see.