Exclusive Q&A: Jenson Button on McLaren's struggles and where he will drive next year
Natalie Pinkham catches up with the 2009 World Champion at Spa
By William Esler. Last Updated: 24/08/13 1:33pm
Natalie Pinkham catches up with 2012 Belgian Grand Prix victor Jenson Button to discuss McLaren's struggles this season, where he will drive next year and how it feels to see former team-mate Lewis Hamilton winning.
Natalie Pinkham: What are your memories of last year's race?
Jenson Button: "It was an interesting weekend. On Friday we had rain as you usually do at some point at Spa. On Saturday morning, I wasn't so sure about the set up of the car, but we braved it into qualifying and it worked really well - pole position and my first pole for McLaren. Then on Sunday I had a good start and a nice clean getaway whilst there was chaos behind me and I just enjoyed the race on my own then really.
"I had a lot of time to really think through the race and enjoy the race - this is a circuit you really want to enjoy, when you have a good car it is so flowing. It is what a Formula 1 car is made for. It is one of the best experiences we have."
NP: Are you treading water for the rest of the season now as you are not focussing on developing this year's car?
JB: "I think for a lot of the teams they still are developing the cars - there are four teams that can still fight for the Constructors' Championship which is great for all the other teams.
"For us, most of our focus is on 2014, but there are things that we can do to this year's car that are going to help us next year. It is still a Formula 1 car - it might be different in design, but aerodynamics are still key to a quick car so we can learn things that will help us next year. So we are still developing parts for the '13 car."
NP: A quick word on Lewis [Hamilton], obviously you saw him win last time out. How do you feel about that - seeing him leave the team under a lot of criticism, going to a different team and then coming out with a win? Is it frustrating for you?
JB: "No it is not frustrating because it was not a judgement. I don't think he could see the [Mercedes] team winning grands prix this year, so I think he is surprised as everyone else is that they have won three grands prix this year. It was a good win in Hungary - it was the Lewis that I remember from when we were team-mates.
"I don't think he was in the quickest car that day - I think the Red Bull was quicker - but he drove really well and it was a fantastic victory. I'd say it was one of his best victories, so fair play to him. It will be interesting to see how his confidence is this weekend."
NP: It is about now that speculation about driver movement is rife, but it doesn't seem you are involved in that too much. Is that disappointing for you or a good thing that you are so stable and secure at McLaren?
JB: "I have been asked about it non-stop today! All about a certain team - non-stop by every single journalist. But I am surprised that they asked because I supposedly have a contract for next year, so I shouldn't be asked really."
NP: So you are McLaren through and through?
JB: "Well you will have to speak to Martin [Whitmarsh] about that. It is easy when you are in a difficult position to say you want to jump ship, but that is not the right thing to do - particularly when you are in a team like McLaren. This is a very difficult year and when you are in it it is tough. But I think as a team, going through it makes us stronger.
"I think for the future of McLaren this year was needed. I know it is difficult to say now, but we will learn so much this year and it has brought everyone together and we might go away from this being almost champions, to being World Champions in 2014/15.