Button: Enjoyment key to end-of-season flourish
9 September 2011
Jenson Button has admitted that enjoying his driving has been one of the keys to his strong form in recent months in F1 2011 – as he reflects that even if the title is no longer a realistic possibility, McLaren-Mercedes must nonetheless 'go out and try to win every race for the rest of the year'.
Button has prevailed twice this season to-date – in Montreal and at the Hungaroring, inspired victories both – but there have been many other impressive performances, too, and with seven races left to run now, the McLaren-Mercedes star holds a slender three-point advantage over team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings. Should the order remain that way round come the end of the campaign, it would mark the first time that Hamilton has ever been outscored by a driver in the same team as him in F1.
A fortnight ago in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, the 2009 world champion produced a storming effort to charge from 13th on the grid following a qualifying miscommunication to the bottom step of the podium – and but for damaging his front wing on debris on the opening lap, he could arguably even have triumphed.
As he bids to keep that eye-catching momentum going in this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza – a race he has never won, albeit one in which he has finished as runner-up for the past two editions – Button acknowledges that right now, he is driving as well as he has ever done.
“I'm very happy with what I'm doing with the car,” the 31-year-old is quoted as having said by SPEED.com. “With the tools I have available to me, I think I'm doing the best job I can. I'm really enjoying it as well, which is massively important. I feel good in the car and I have the confidence to really throw it around, which is maybe the biggest thing that is different from previous seasons. I think that will show in qualifying in the next few races.
“I'm still going to make mistakes, and we made one in qualifying at the last race – but more often than not, we get it right when it comes to strategy and the calls we make during the race.”
“We have to go out and try to win every race for the rest of the year,” he added, speaking to BBC Sport. “Not so much for the title, but just for our enjoyment. We have to make sure that every race we do we're meticulous about the detail of the car, and that what we put on the car is 100 per cent reliable. Every team is so emotional and passionate that when you win it is such a special feeling – and we want a lot of that, even if we can't win the championship.
“[Monza] is a very interesting race. It's not straightforward. Strategy is difficult; there's a massive camber limit on the front which is going to hurt a lot of people, and the tread on the front on the soft tyre is less than normal, so it will be difficult to get heat into the tyre. There are so many different things for this race that we haven't experienced before. It will be good to see who can work with it and come out on top. Hopefully, it will be us.”
Whilst Button has been the consistent and calm voice of reason at McLaren this year, Hamilton, by stark contrast, has betrayed far more volatile, emotional reactions – particularly when events have gone awry. The elder of the two countrymen, though, is adamant that neither approach is right or wrong – just 'different'.
“We're very different people,” mused the eleven-time grand prix-winner. “He is more outspoken, but is that wrong? Sometimes it's good to get your points across – if you have an issue with something, you have to let people know. We're just different people in that respect. I personally feel it's better to talk to the team than talk though the media, but we are built differently. We are both passionate about racing; it just comes out in different ways.”