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Belgian GP - Post-qualifying press conference - Pt.1

1 September 2012

TV UNILATERAL

Q:
Jenson, your 50th race for your team and what a way to mark it, with your first pole position for them?

Jenson Button:
It's been quite a long time since I got my last pole position – that was back in 2009, Monaco I think. It was pretty emotional. Sunday's have been good for the past few years, but Saturdays have not gone perfectly you could say. So, a great qualifying session and it's so important to come back after the break, such a long break, with a good result on Saturday. I know the race is tomorrow but this is close to winning a race for me because it's been so long.

Q:
Kamui, your first front row in F1 and also the first front row for a Japanese driver in F1, so yoku dekimashita to you.

Kamui Kobayashi:
Really? Thank you. It's quite far from yesterday's practice where we struggled quite a bit and we really had no idea what we were going to do. But this morning in that hour we changed the settings and we improved better, definitely. Quali? Of course we don't know what is really a fact, how much there is an improvement of track condition. But we have good confidence at Spa and after the summer holiday everybody wants to have a really good potential in the car. In these three months there are going to be like nine races, it's quite busy but very important for us so I'm very happy to have a great result here.

Q:
Pastor, your holiday included a return trip back to Venezuela. The rest might have done you a bit of good as well, with another top three qualifying. Not the most straightforward qualifying for you but in the end it all came good.

Pastor Maldonado:
Yeah, I think we've been quite consistent in qualifying all season, especially since Barcelona and now it seems to be a bit more strong, the car. We've been working so hard, even in the break, trying to analyse and understand all the problems we had in the past, to sort it out for the second part of the season and that means we are quite competitive. Especially this morning we were struggling a little it with the set-up but we understand and we knew where to work on the car. I'm very happy because the team reacted. The spirit is high in the team. We are working so compact now. I'm looking forward to the second part of the season. The races were up and down in the first part and looking forward to the second part to recover what we lost at the beginning of the season.

Q:
Jenson, you mentioned an emotional day for you but there were three laps that were more than good enough for pole. What was the secret? Why was today such a good Saturday, when others have been such a struggle?

Jenson Button:
If I knew, it would make everything great! We just got the balance right this morning. The car's been working really well all day. It's limited running we've all had but every run we've done the balance has been reasonably good and we just tickled it, especially through qualifying. Yeah, the balance is to my liking. I obviously have a style where it's quite difficult to find a car that works for me in qualifying but when it does we can get pole position. So, big thank you to the whole team, especially Dave and Tom, my two engineers, who on Saturdays, some of the time, have found it pretty tough. But today is a good day and it makes it a lot easier for us tomorrow being in this position but it's still going to be hard day I think.

Q:
Kamui, we saw the Saubers very impressive in the final practice session, the only dry session before qualifying. Was this a result you expected today or did it still come as a massive shock?

Kamui Kobayashi:
Of course we expect like really high for this weekend because Spa is one of our favourite circuits. I think our car should be good here as well. Of course I didn't expect second in qualifying. We're basically quite strong in the race, but not strong in quali with other tracks. I think we have a really great opportunity for tomorrow as well. I think this is a really good start for the rest of the season. We need to be really strong in quali. Definitely, I think in this summer break, the guys had a lot of work and they did a really great job. We had really a lot of chats with them and we're happy to be here and confident and we showed that in quali. It's really great and thanks to the guys.

Q:
Pastor, Williams third on the grid. Did you expect that coming to Spa or is this just the team making good fortune out of others' misfortune in the qualifying session?

Pastor Maldonado:
We were optimistic for this race. Maybe this morning I was a little bit more worried because the car doesn't look quite good. But during the qualifying I was adapting myself to the car and adapting myself to the different conditions and the track was changing and improving at the same time. After Q1 I saw the potential we had, a bit less in Q2, we were nearly out, P10. I was a bit worried about that because the lap wasn't that good. In Q3 I pushed very much, at the maximum. I got a clean lap. We are not that fast, like Jenson, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow. In the past we've had very good pace in the races so looking forward.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q:
Jenson, it hasn't been a particularly kind circuit to you – does this make up for it?

Jenson Button:
Over the years in qualifying it hasn't been particularly that kind to me but twelve years ago for my first race here I qualified third on the grid, back in 2000, so I have some good memories from qualifying here. And this definitely adds to that. It's a very special circuit for all of us and to get a pole position here does mean a lot, especially because it's been quite a long time for me.

Q:
I think this was touched on [in the TV unilateral] have you basically found the secret to qualifying, your qualifying, or have you just hit the sweet spot?

Jenson Button:
I really don't know. Maybe a five-week break between every race is what I need – getting old now so maybe that's the case! But no, all day the car's been reasonably good. We've been tweaking it all through P3 and in qualifying even. On both tyres the car's felt good. It's difficult to get a lap together this year with these tyres I think. And even a pole lap, it still doesn't feel like the perfect lap. After the qualifying the adrenaline is running high and you look back on it and think it's a great lap – but when you analyse it, it's very, very difficult to do a perfect lap with these cars, and that's something I've struggled with, with the way that I drive.

Q:
How much satisfaction has it given you that you've beaten everybody else?

Jenson Button:
Yeah, definitely. Today we didn't put a foot wrong all through qualifying. And I say 'we' meaning the team and myself. The engineers have really been on it today. It's difficult when it's just one hour of practice – and basically you get about twenty minutes on the circuit in a one-hour practice session – and yeah, they've really been on it. So, congratulations to them. Obviously this isn't a win – the points are tomorrow – but this is very important to us.

Q:
Kamui, Sauber and yourself seem to have been on top of it all weekend so far, is that the case?

Kamui Kobayashi:
Well from yesterday it was totally different conditions. But today, even in the morning we had quite good confidence with the car. I think Spa is one of our favourite tracks with our car, so we had quite [a lot of] confidence coming here but we didn't expect to be in second. Front row is a really good finish in the quali and we usually struggle in the quali and in the race I think we are not really worried. But this is where we want to improve and in Spa of course this is a favourite circuit but we didn't expect second. And I'm very happy of course. I think the team had a really great time during this holiday and they do really quite well and that's why we are here. But I think very important for tomorrow to score much more points for us.

Q:
And this is your best qualifying position by two places as well…

Kamui Kobayashi:
Well, my best quali I think but I'm always focussing on Sunday and not on quali – so this is a good point but I want to focus on tomorrow. Second in quali we still cannot get any points, so just y'know, we see tomorrow, and if we can be on the podium that's really something we need to do.

Q:
Someone yesterday mentioned what a good overtaker you are – but you've only got one person to overtake…

Kamui Kobayashi:
Well yes, of course – but always in the top three or top five it's always more difficult to battle. If we're P15 or something it's easy to do something. So, I think definitely tomorrow is a different story and of course we need to fight and we need to watch tyre management. But tyres are a little bit strange because we have different tyres from previous event, so we need a little bit to take care and we need to finish the race.

Q:
Pastor, how important was this third place after the results recently.

Pastor Maldonado:
It was important especially because we are here in Spa, which is a special track, I think, for all the drivers. We are expecting this race for all the year and yes, it's something special to be in the top three here in Spa.

Q:
And you and the engineers seem to have found the right setup straight away.

Pastor Maldonado:
Yeah, I think this morning we were struggling a little bit with the setup, especially with the option tyres, and then we were analysing and trying to push very hard to see what was the problem – and we solved the problem. The qualifying looked quite consistent and strong. The only problem was Q2. We were at the limit, P10, but yeah, the lap wasn't that clean. But in Q3 I push, I see where I'm mistaking in Q2, where to improve the car, and we did pretty good I think. That means that the team is working so good, especially after the break, so we stay competitive. The spirit is so high at the moment, so looking forward for tomorrow and even for the rest of the season.

Q:
We did see on the screen that you and Nico Hülkenberg have an incident being investigated by the stewards. Is that a concern as far as you're concerned.

Pastor Maldonado:
To be honest I don't remember that.


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