Australian GP - Sunday - Press Conference
29 MARCH 2009
1. Jenson BUTTON (Brawn GP), 1h34m15.784s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (Brawn GP), 1h34m16.591s
3. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1h34m17.388s
Q: Jenson, mayhem in front of you perhaps and certainly the mayhem behind you showed how much things could have gone wrong for you today. But from where we sat it looked like a beautiful day at the races.
Jenson BUTTON: I think it always looks easier than it is. The first few laps of the race were great for me and I could settle into a pace, but then when the safety car came out I struggled massively to get heat into the tyres. The car was hitting the ground and just before the safety car pulled in I flat-spotted the tyre pretty severely. I was struggling quite a bit with vibration and with the poor light as well. Being in the front it should be easy, but it was not easy at all. I tell you that. But an amazing day. Some people might say it is a pity it finished under the safety car, but I don't care. I won the race today and that is all I care about. I have got to say a massive thank you to everyone for this. It has been a traumatic few months for all of us, as I have said already, but I can't put it out there how tough it has been, so I have got to say thank you to the whole team. But also to my family for being so strong as it has been difficult.
Q: Rubens, backing up the team performance with a brilliant second place proving the car is not only quick but also incredibly strong.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: It is strong, very strong. I was hit from behind and I hit someone in front. It was a tough race and as Jenson just said, it wasn't an easy race, but for me I never thought I could finish on the podium after the start. I hit anti-stall, so the car went into neutral. I recovered quite quickly but then I lost a lot of pace compared to people and I was hit from behind from a McLaren and that put me sideways and I hit someone really hard. I thought the car was done from that crash but I survived quite well, but on my first stint my nose was falling apart and I lost the braking stability when I hit Kimi as well. He closed the door and I couldn't avoid him. I had a lot of mixed emotions during the race, but it was fantastic. I started second but could only hope for one better but after the start I am delighted to be here with the second place.
Q: Jarno, in some respects starting from the pit lane was the best place to start, given what happened at the first corner.
Jarno TRULLI: Well, after yesterday's disappointment this was a great day, especially for my team. I started from the pit and I was lucky enough to get away from the first corner accident. From that time on I was just pushing, pushing, pushing really hard because the car was good. This is a great result and especially I would like to thank my Panasonic Toyota team because they have made a lot of effort and this result is entirely down to them as they have done a god job over the winter time to give me a fantastic car, so after yesterday we bounced back today to show that we are doing things the right way.
Q: Jenson, you said the light was getting bad and the temperature was dropping and after your second pit stop you are emerging on the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres and the pressure is on with Robert Kubica on the hard tyre.
Button: You know, I really made a mistake in my pit stop and it was frustrating. I was in second gear when I came into the box and the neutral didn't work. It only works in first gear but I was just confused with Massa in front and that lost us a hell of a lot of time, so they just about got the nozzle on after they had done the tyres. That cost me five or six seconds which was a mistake but the good thing was we came out on top anyway with that. There is something to come from me and something to come from the team as well. I made it difficult for us today but we got there.
Q: What were the conditions like right at the end with the shade and the drop in temperatures?
Button: It was really difficult. It is strange for such an open circuit, you could not see the exit of the corners at all. I used a visor that was slightly tinted and that was the correct thing to do. But with the glare from the sun and the change in light from the trees it was so difficult. It was so easy to put a wheel wrong and the problem was the bad light was always on the most difficult corners, so it made it tough and on the prime tyre also we were struggling for heat. I just couldn't get any heat in the tyres in the second stint.
Q: Rubens, you said that you started second. Explain what happened at the start.
Barrichello: Well, revs are on and my car moved and stopped and that's when I hit anti-stall. Anti-stall is a protection from the engine that you have. You jump into neutral if you don't have the right revs. I went on the inside but the McLaren, I don't know who, I hit it really fast on my back and then I hit the other car which was a Red Bull or Toro Rosso. It was a fairly big hit and I thought my race was over, but one thing we can say is that with the crash if people think that our car is only good because of the diffuser, well, that big hit from behind broke the diffuser completely. The car was very strong after that. It didn't have a fantastic pace as the temperature dropped but it had a pace, so still a good car after all.
Q: Jarno, a brilliant race from the pit lane but your race really came alive in those closing stages when on lap 56 Robert Kubica attacked Sebastian Vettel with Vettel on the soft tyre and Robert on the harder tyre and I think you going through the debris after this.
Trulli: Well, there have been a lot of things going on during this race. Mainly I was trying to push as hard as possible in order to catch up. I made a lot of overtaking during the whole race, at the beginning of the session as well as in the middle and in the end. I didn't know what was going on as my only target was to push as hard as possible to finish as high as possible and somehow I was lucky but once again I have to thank the team as we had a fantastic car, so I could do it.
Q: Jenson, at the 1954 French Grand Prix Juan Manuel Fangio led a one-two for Mercedes. That was the last time a team making its debut had a one-two finish. You did that today with a Mercedes engine behind you. Your emotions and your thoughts at the end of this momentous occasion?
Button: It is not just for me, but for the whole team. This is a fairy tale ending really to the first race of our career together and I hope that we can continue this way and I know we are going to fight to keep this car competitive and with the limited resources we have to keep it at the front. The whole team has done a good job and this has got to continue as this is where I think we deserve to be and we have worked very hard for this. So thank you very much to the team and bring on Malaysia.
Q: Jenson, someone is going to pinch you in a moment and you are going to wake up.
Button: I said on the radio to my engineer 'can you please pinch me next time round.' It was at the start of the race after five laps when I had a five second lead or something, but yes, a special moment.
Q: Can you believe being on pole in a brand new car and now winning as well?
Button: Yeah, I mean Rubens made it sort of easy for me on the first timed lap when I was able to pull out four or five seconds in the first couple of laps. That was nice and I just settled into a nice rhythm. I was keeping Vettel's times in check, just knowing what he was doing and just trying to pace myself. It was all looking reasonably good and then we got the first safety car and I massively struggled to get heat into the tyres. That is something we have not had an issue with before, but I was really struggling with the car bottoming and when I braked to start again when the safety car came in I locked the front left up and had a massive flat spot. It made the next stint very difficult, especially with the poor light, as I couldn't see any of the corner exits and we were able to plough on and still put reasonably good lap times in. On my last stop I overshot the box a little bit and they couldn't get the hose on for about four or five seconds, so that lost us more time. It wasn't my best race I must say but I still won, so I am chuffed to bits. I know there is more room for improvement from myself and from team which is the exciting thing. I think it is just being out of practice for so long and not doing that much testing over the winter.
Q: What about that final stint and especially with Robert Kubica on the harder tyres?
Button: I actually wasn't worried. I knew when I came out in front of Vettel that I would be fine as I knew that we could look after the tyre. The thing with the last stint was not to push and try and see what was the best time I could do. I was purposely driving very slowly for what pace I think we could do to look after the tyres. I wasn't turning in aggressively to any corners. I think I could have been in the mid 1.28's but we were taking an easy route to stop the graining because as soon as that graining starts you see what happens as Vettel lost a massive amount of time behind me and I was able to just plough on doing my mid 1.29's when he was in the 1.30's, so I wasn't worried once I was out in front of Vettel and I knew we could bring it home from there.
Q: And your thoughts about Ross Brawn and everything he has done?
Button: You don't find Ross speechless very often but the last 15 minutes I would be surprised if he said a word. When we saw him when we went up to the podium he had nothing to say. The big bear was just there speechless. It was good to see as it was a very emotional day for him as it is for us as well.
Q: And in one week's time Malaysia?
Button: I'm all for it. I cannot wait. It is a circuit I really enjoy and hopefully we can iron out some of the problems we had here. It is going to be a good race I think. It is never as easy as you think it is going to be and today was reasonably tough and the pace of Vettel was pretty strong. And with the safety cars it does mix up everything. Fair play to Rubens and Jarno, they did a great job to finish second and third. Some of it I am sure was the safety car and it makes it tough. Even though I am on pole, in first position, it is still not an easy place to be.
Q: Rubens, well done to you too. Again, I'm sure you couldn't have imagined this result.
Barrichello: Well, after putting the car into second place yesterday I was hoping that we could finish first and second but right after the start, like a milli-second after the start, I never really thought we could have imagined to finish first and second. It was a tough afternoon but I had a lot of adventure there. There was a lot of overtaking. I think I kept some of the guys awake in Brazil. It was three o' clock in the morning, so I think they had reasons to keep awake. I'm pleased. My afternoon was great in a difficult car, let's put it that way, because some of the bits were broken. We could see a drop in performance in terms of aerodynamics, when I was hit from behind by the McLaren, and then I hit someone on the side because of that. I had to change the nose, I had a difficult pit stop as well. There was no one to blame. We had 1500 kilometers (testing) each, one day for the mechanics to get used to things. They didn't have a lot of sleep before they came here, so it's all a dream really, to say that we finished first and second for a new team. It was funny to see Ross that way, not even at Ferrari did I see him like that. It looked like it was his first win, so it was really amazing.
Q: What about that very late second stop? It really was right at the end.
Barrichello: Yeah, I think the team was trying to capitalise on the problems that we went through and made it as long as possible. We knew that the softer of the two tyres could have some graining issues, so with the small problems that I had driving the car, I was very happy to keep the pace with the guys in front on three stops. And then I had a fantastic car when I put on the softer tyres, even though there were some bits missing it was a good car to drive. But I was looking after it and all of a sudden I heard on the radio 'crash, crash, crash. Be careful.' And then I saw the two cars going off the track and it gave me second position which was great.
Q: Jarno, I get the feeling that you're just a little frustrated. Maybe there's the thought of what could have been if you hadn't started from the pit lane?
Trulli: Well, many things happened this weekend, plenty of emotion, some highs, some lows, so it's difficult to say if you're happy or not. At the moment, I'm not completely happy with myself because I could have done well, but on the other hand if you look at the result we have all done a great job after the big disappointment of yesterday, we proved that our car has nothing to do in terms of competitiveness regarding the little details which we have been disqualified for. On the other hand, qualifying yesterday went pretty badly. It was the only time when the car felt pretty bad and I don't know why. On top of that I've been struggling all weekend with brakes, so all I had to do today was completely change the brakes to a different material, different things, something I never ran with this weekend. With all the experience I have, I didn't think about it, I just went flat out, out of the pit lane. It was lacking at some stages of the race, at the beginning, because I gained a couple of positions because of crashes. On the other hand, I don't know if the TV showed them but I did some great moves and overtaking at the beginning of the race, in the middle of the race as well as at the end of the race. So I was a little bit unlucky because at one stage I fell behind Fisichella who was massively slower than me, something like one and a half seconds and I spent a lot of time, a lot of laps behind him which cost me so much track time. So I don't know if I could have finished higher but anyway, all I want to say is thanks to the team, because the Panasonic Toyota team has done a great job over the winter and especially after yesterday's disappointment, it's a great way to hit back.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Jenson, two things. Firstly, now that you've finally got that second win, any chance of shaving off the beard?
Button: I quite like it and my girlfriend likes it and that's what matters to me, Fogarty!
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) On the strength of today's performance, is it now a realistic prospect that the World Championship could be a two horse race between you and Rubens? Is this a modern version of Senna versus Prost in '88?
Button: I hope it is. I hope that we are quick all season and I hope that we have an advantage all season, but I don't think that's going to be the case. I think that you're right, that we're both going to be very competitive and pushing each other very hard if you look at the last few years that we've been teammates. But I have a feeling that other teams are going to be on us very quickly, and when we get to a different type of circuit, maybe in Malaysia, some other cars which weren't so competitive here will be. Vettel's pace surprised me a little bit. I didn't think they were quite as quick as they were today when we watched them in practice but their pace seemed to be good. So it's not a walkaway victory for sure, and it's never going to be easy for us over the next few races, but you're right that we will be competitive together and we're both in the same position here with a good car, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be fighting at the front.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Sport Auto) Rubens, what happened at the start?
Barrichello: I hit the anti-stall. I don't know why. I have to go through the data-logging to see what happened but basically when the car first moved, it hit anti-stall and then it was into neutral and so I had to recover and get the clutch back on and go. When you do that, you use a lot of throttle and there was a lot of wheelspin, so I lost a lot. And then you saw that I got to the first corner and I went on the inside of someone - I could definitely manage to stop, I wasn't going to hit anyone - and the McLaren came up far too fast behind me and threw me into the side of a Red Bull, and as I said before, I thought that that was it for the race. Fortunately the car is very strong and kept me going.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Jenson, you've scored more points in one race today than you have in the past two years. Does that pretty much sum up how bad the past two years have been?
Button: The past two years put together? Yes, it does really. It's quite true. That's pretty rubbish isn't it? Wow! Yeah, it does. The last two years have been very tough, for both of us. To drive that car we had last season, it was a handful. Every corner we got to we didn't know what was going to really happen. So it was a beast, but that's what we had to deal with. We knew that there were some very talented people in the team. We just haven't produced the car that I think we expected to last season, but we've put all our work into this car and you can see that we can produce a good car as we have in the past, and now the important thing is to just keep improving it and our updates throughout the season I hope are going to be enough to keep us strong.
Q: (Ron Reed - Herald Sun) Jenson, what, if any, conversations have you had with Richard Branson in the last 24 hours or so?
Button: I haven't spoken to him really. We've obviously been doing our own thing, getting on with work, so we haven't spoken.
Q: Jarno, sure it's very early, but did today's performance show you that Toyota can fight for the championship?
Trulli: It's difficult to say because obviously I haven't been close enough to these guys who at the moment look like they are the men to beat. All I can say is that since this winter time we were feeling pretty good, since the first time I tested the car I gave a positive comment straight away. This result is a lot down to the team but I'm proud of what is happening, because I think I've been giving a lot in terms of experience, in terms of direction and straight away the first time I tested the car we were on our own, so we didn't have any reference point, but straight away I said that for me it was a very good baseline. Now we've proved that the first time I can tell when something is right or wrong and the direction to take and naturally this makes me feel very happy because it means that I'm not only good at driving but I'm also good at giving the direction and leading the team in one way. So I'm getting what I want and the team is doing a good job with both Timo and me, the atmosphere is great, so it's a big thanks to everyone because we have seen that the machine has a major impact on the results, no matter who is driving it, but it's important to have a good car. Today's result is just a great way, a great day to thank everyone and to show that Toyota is on the right direction, on the right path. Now, from being third to saying that we can fight for the championship is a bit too early to say.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Jenson, two things: first of all, what was your feeling when the safety car came out, just at the end? Did you think that's ruined the spectacular blaze over the line or did you know then that you're going to win it? And secondly, is this a sort of poke in the eye for people who doubted your talent over the years? You always said you needed the right car?
Button: First of all, when the safety car came out I wasn't thinking 'I'm going to cross the finish line with the safety car out.' It was 'oh dear, another safety car.' But when I crossed the line I'd won the race, I crossed the line first, it doesn't matter how it's done. The safety car wasn't on the track then anyway, it had already come in, but it's the same emotion, exactly the same emotion because you've won the race and in spectacular fashion, I think even though we had the safety car out. What was the second question? This win is for me and for the team and that's what I care about. I don't need to poke anyone in the eye about what they've said about me in the past. There have been a lot of positive comments in the past and those are the ones that you obviously enjoy. If there are going to be negative comments, I have no reason to poke anyone in the eye for any reason. I'm just happy to be here and I've worked bloody hard to be here.
Q: (Livio Orrichio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) To all of you, do you think the FIA can change the result of this race; what do you think about that?
Button: That's nothing that we can change as drivers. We're here to put on a show and also to get the best out of the equipment on offer and that's exactly what we've done this weekend, and we will continue to do so over the next few races or for the whole of the season, and we have to see what happens. At the moment, I'm enjoying this victory because it is a victory and I think it should stand for sure.
Barrichello: Obviously it's in the hands of the FIA to decide what to do but the FIA already checked the cars and already said that the cars were legal, so I'm not expecting anything different.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) For Rubens and Jarno: do you think that now you've driven in a race, that the new rules are helping overtaking or does it not change much?
Barrichello: I don't know if I can answer this question right now. I would like to wait for Malaysia to answer that a little bit more, because this race was a bit strange. We've raced at five o' clock, difficult visibility and the tyre temperatures were dropping. Because of that, people had different sorts of balance in the race. At one point, I thought I could overtake, it didn't matter if I had the wings to play with or anything, so it didn't seem to be easier but I think people did have problems, some more than others, with tyres temperatures, so I would like to wait until Malaysia to fully answer the question.
Trulli: Well, it helped make the race a little bit more fun, a bit more show and overtaking. The fact is that anyway, being late in the afternoon was really due to the shadows, so we had to be very careful where we were putting our wheels and on the other hand I don't want to be pessimistic but I spent many laps behind Fisichella who was a second or a second and a half slower than me and I couldn't overtake, and I really needed to overtake him, so I was really pushing and attacking but I couldn't make it. Maybe it's slightly better but definitely at the moment it didn't change my race at all, but let's wait and see. I would be more than happy if we had more chance to overtake, not just for us but the show for everyone.
Q: (Richard Williams - The Guardian) Jenson, did you know at the first test that this kind of thing was going to be possible, and if you did, what are the qualities of the car that make it different and make you feel so comfortable?
Button: When I drove it at Barcelona, after four laps I felt that the car was competitive, and also when I got out of the car and looked at the timing board, I realised that we were competitive. For me some of it is to do with the tyres which I think suit this car well. When I drove last year's car with the slick tyres the car seemed to be reasonably good. We have made some massive steps forward with the car for sure. I would say that mechanically we have improved a lot since last season, so it's better in the low speed corners, some of it again is helped by the slicks. Aerodynamically I think we are strong, I'm sure there is still room for improvement there and I think Mercedes have done a great job with the engine, the driveability of the engine has been good from the word go. There have obviously been some points which we needed to improve with the engine and the driveability but to be able to do that in six or seven days is impressive. So it's not just one thing, it is the whole package which is good, but I still don't think we're getting the best out of it yet.