Monaco GP - Sunday - Press Conference
24 MAY 2009
1. Jenson BUTTON (Brawn GP), 1h40m44.282s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (Brawn GP), 1h40m51.948s
3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), 1h40m57.724s
Q: Jenson, you didn't even wait for the car to the podium ceremony. You just sprinted to the ceremony.
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, I mean the race was pretty tough but with the helmet on when you run you realise how long the pit lane is. I got off the line clean with Rubens behind and Rubens had problems with his rear tyres and I got a gap and it really didn't change from there. I had the normal Monaco thing when the walls seem to get closer and closer the further you get into the race. But, yeah, an outstanding weekend and I think we have proven this weekend that our package works. I think we are looking very strong for the next few races. This victory is massive for us, I think, at this point of the season.
Q: When the tyre covers came off on the grid the Brawn cars were on the soft tyre unlike some of your major competitors. In some ways that is where you won the race with everybody else having trouble.
Button: Well, yeah I was surprised when the covers came off and most people were on the prime tyres, the harder of the two. We never thought twice really about running the option tyre and at the end of the stint I did start struggling with a little bit of oversteer but not quite as bad as Rubens did. But I started struggling and my times were not quite good enough and that is why they called me in and I stuck the prime tyres on. The prime tyres worked really well here. But the prime tyre was the race tyre.
Q: Those last 15 laps in Monaco when you are so near victory but things can go wrong. Talk us through your mindset at that point.
Button: Yeah, it is a very strange feeling because you start backing off a little bit and in reality, as has been said many times before, that is the worst thing to do as you start thinking about if I get this to the end I am going to win Monaco. That is the worst thing to do. I started backing off and there was so much going through my mind. It is not that you are not thinking about driving but there is a part of your mind that is thinking about something else. I had to really concentrate and the last two laps were very enjoyable as I had a big enough gap and you know nothing can go wrong with the car. I could drive at my steady pace and just enjoy the moment as it is a very special moment winning here in Monaco.
Q: Rubens, a great start which defined your race. But you had a problem with the seat belt in stint two.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, once again just like Barcelona I had a great start and I was able to have a run on Kimi. I was running at tremendous pace. But possibly I was just too close to Jenson as losing that little bit of aerodynamic I was struggling a little bit more without the air in front and I grained the rear tyres. From 16s I started to do 20s and then Jenson was gaining like three or four seconds a lap and that defined the race pretty much. If you look back the race was defined yesterday as it is a great momentum going when you start from the front. I had a great weekend. The car was perfect the whole way through. It was a shame we had the graining. On the second stint my seat belts started to get looser and looser and I could hear them going clank, clank. I was just getting loose, so I had to start driving differently. I had to send brakes to the front as when you brake you are just moving and you get to the pedal and you lock rear wheels more. I had a great time, really. It was not as easy as it looks from the outside, so I am proud of what we achieved today.
Q: Kimi, a great return to form for Ferrari. Talk about being beaten off the line by Rubens and then your day thereafter.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, it is not the first time when I have been in second place and always lose one position. The start seems to be very slippery on that side plus they were on the softer tyres, so it definitely helped at the start. It was not nice to see as we were faster than Rubens but there was no way past him. We lost a lot of time at the beginning and that was the only chance to try and stay behind Jenson. Then I had a little bit longer second stint. I don't know what happened at the pit stop but we lost a lot of time and Rubens was still a long way ahead of me when I came out. We still have work to do to be where we want to be and fight for the first place. But many small things changed this weekend as yesterday being first place probably would have given us a better chance. We need to be happy after a very difficult start to the season. The people have been working very hard at the factory and here at the circuit, so we improved the car very quickly once we realised we can do something different with the rules. We need to be very happy with what we achieved today. Third and fourth is not bad. We should get some new package again for next race and it should help. I am disappointed, definitely, but in this situation we need to be a bit happier. I am not happy with third place but for the team it is still a good result.
Q: Jenson, some final thoughts on winning the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the Blue Riband race event of the FIA Formula One World Championship and it must have been a long held ambition of yours. Talk us through that and your immediate thoughts as you crossed the line and the emotions you felt.
Button: Well, before the weekend I said that this grand prix doesn't mean anything different to any other grand prix. I think that was more to stop the pressure on myself but we all know the truth. To win here was fantastic. This circuit is very different to anything else. I struggled at the start of the week and for me that makes it even better to come away with the victory. As I crossed the line I shouted on the radio to my engineers, 'we have got Monaco, baby.' We have got the victory in Monaco and that means a lot and a one-two finish for Brawn is exceptional. It is definitely going to go down in history, the performance of the team this year. It has been staggering. It is a great moment and I can't wait to see all the boys. It is nice to get off the podium and see them but both of us, I am sure Rubens feels the same, to go and see the boys they are all going to be very emotional at the moment, so well done to them.
Q: Jenson, where does Monaco rate in your all-time wins?
Button: As I said before, I said this weekend that this win doesn't mean anything else to me than any other. It wouldn't if it happened. Bit of a lie really but I was just trying to take a bit of pressure off myself. It is very special winning here. It is a completely different circuit to any that we race on. If you are quick in Barcelona you are quick on many circuits. This is just different and to win here is a great feeling. The last 15 laps were tough as when you lose a little bit of concentration anything can happen. But the last two laps were the most enjoyable laps of my career, I would say. I could just enjoy the moment. I had a big enough lead and I could just enjoy winning Monaco. It is something you always dream about as a kid. You watch it on television and you think it is an amazing spectacle. But actually driving in it and winning it is just fantastic. I am very happy.
Q: The car seemed to be perfect and the tyres perfect as well.
Button: As perfect as a car can be around Monaco for sure. The problem with this circuit is the further you go into the race, as it is mentally very tough and you are focusing so much, the barriers seem to get narrower and narrower. The car was great. We started off with a car this weekend that I was not happy in. I actually did not want to drive here at one point. I was just not happy at all but we have worked with it. The engineers have done a great job and the car has performed very well in qualifying and the race. It was an exceptional weekend, I think, for myself and also for Brawn and Rubens. This will definitely go down in history, for sure, a new team winning in Monaco.
Q: We are a third of the way through the championship and people are saying you cannot lose this championship.
Button: Yeah, I don't know how you can say that after six races; I have won five. You are sort of putting a bit of negative energy in there and saying it is mine to lose. I wouldn't put it like that. I am 16 points in the lead and I have more of an advantage than others to win the championship. But it is all to play for. It is not mine to lose for sure. I am doing the best I can and at the moment that is good enough. We will see what happens over the next few races. I am just enjoying this moment as the whole team should be. Every win is great but I think for the whole team, and I think everyone in Formula One, you want to win in Monaco and you want to win your home grand prix. In a way this is both for me.
Q: Rubens, you mentioned the problem with your rear tyres, what was that?
Barrichello: Well, I was just mentioning it to Jenson. We had a different reading from many of the others. We had the option tyre and we thought the option was going to be the tyre to use for three quarters of the race really. Then, all of a sudden, we saw some of the others using the other tyre. As you could see it was the tyre to have to begin with; we pulled away, it was great. I was comfortably running behind Jenson but probably by running that close it just affected my tyre a little bit more because you lose a bit of aerodynamics and you start to slide. I had the graining on the rear, but graining badly, because I started saying that the pressure must have gone up and I couldn't keep up the pace. They said we can see on the TV that the graining has started. With the graining I lost four seconds myself, so it was great strategy to recover from that when Kimi stopped. I came in a lap later, much earlier than I was expected and after that it was fine but by then Jenson was 16s ahead. We had very similar pace; sometimes I was better, sometimes he was but basically the race was lost during that graining phase.
Q: How close did Kimi get to you?
Barrichello: Well, I was very lucky that it is just impossible to overtake at this place, even though he had the KERS. If you brake in the middle of the line, Monaco is really impossible. There's 101 percent of a chance of not overtaking, so it was lucky that it was this place where I had the graining.
Q: Your fourth second place here; is that a little frustrating?
Barrichello: I think it's something like that, yeah. I wish I had won some races here but I'm looking at it differently this time. Of course Jenson is 16 points ahead but I have to cover as many points as possible while I'm not winning, so if I do start winning then it's a different matter. It's the championship that matters right now and as I said, Jenson is on a flier. He's not making any mistakes which is really good for him, it's really good for the team. I'm pushing him as hard as I can. I wanted to win for myself and for the team and this couldn't be any better for the team, to be honest, because we're pushing each other, we're fair to each other and we're having a wonderful time. He's having a bit more fun than I am because he takes the trophy home but I am pushing hard, I won't stop until the very final race.
Q: Kimi, you spoke about the start to Peter Windsor; did you use KERS at the start?
Raikkonen: Yeah, but there's not much use for it if you start spinning your wheels straight away, so that's where we lost the start. At any other place I could have kept second place. You gain a lot with KERS on long straights but it doesn't really make much difference here. It's more the first jump off the line. They had soft tyres, we had harder ones. The right hand side is probably a little bit better for the start anyhow. We just lost it there. It was all fighting after that. We were faster when Rubens had his problems with the tyres at the beginning but then after that, it all played out with very similar pace. We went a little bit longer in the second stint but they seem to be faster in the pit stops. I don't know what they did but we were still a long way behind when I came out of the pits. That's how it went. Without being third at the start, we could probably have taken second place but it's still not what we wanted really. I think, overall, we're not fast enough really yet to fight for first place. We need to be happy; we've still got good results for the team compared to what we had in previous races this year. It's disappointing to finish third but good for the team and for sure we're happier now as a team and we're scoring points. We'll probably get a little more peace now from everyone as a team. We're coming back but it will take a while before we're exactly where we want to be but we definitely made big steps in recent months. We need to be positive. People have done a really good job at the factory and at the circuit to push hard, so we're starting to get results and that always helps people to push harder.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Well done Jenson, the run at the end, what inspired that, where did you get the energy, and can you explain what it was like on those two last laps when you were able to cruise? What could you see, what could you hear, could you appreciate the crowds?
Button: Yes, it was the first time I've actually looked around Monaco during a race, even though somebody said I was doing that back in 2001. This was the first time I had a couple of laps to let it soak in. I was doing a pace during the last two laps when it was pretty impossible to make a mistake. It was such a nice feeling, especially going past the pits and seeing the boys and seeing my pit board being shaken by Mikey Muscles, my physio. So it was a very emotional couple of laps. The run at the end was... it's been a long time since I've been on the podium in Monaco. I thought they were directing me in (to parc ferme), so I went in with all the other cars, got out and had to make a spectacle of it, so I ran around and ran down the circuit. There was no other way to go, all the other ways were full of people, so I ran round the circuit. It's amazing how much energy you've got when you cross the line first but it was a bit embarrassing.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Jenson, I don't know how you are on your Formula One history but only six drivers have ever won five of the first six races and they are some of the greats: Ascari, Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Mansell and Schumacher. I just wondered what you thought about that, whether you've got any feelings being listed in that kind of company?
Button: It's a great feeling, for sure. Facts obviously don't excite me too much, especially after the last couple of years that I've had but winning does and winning here is very special. I'm not thinking about the last few races, it's this race I'm feeling at the moment, and I'm sure tomorrow I will start thinking about the next race in Turkey but at the moment I'm thinking that I won in Monaco. That's a special feeling that will last for quite a while, I think.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, did Felipe make it difficult to keep third place?
Raikkonen: It wasn't easy for me. I needed to push all the time. We tried to push anyhow, to jump Rubens in the pit stops but we couldn't. I didn't know how many more laps Felipe had than me but I knew that it was going to be close but in the end it was not very close. I was pushing all the time anyhow. We knew it was going to be pretty tight but in the end it turned out to be pretty easy. After that we could slow down and just save the brakes and tyres and speed up a little bit at the end because there was one of the Red Bulls catching us up, so we just had to pick up the pace a bit. But apart from that, after the last pit stop it was great.
Q: (Tom Cary - The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, you're now guaranteed to be leading the championship when we get to Silverstone. What's that going to feel like?
Button: Is Silverstone after Turkey? OK. Yeah, that's a great feeling. I always love the British Grand Prix. It is obviously my proper home Grand Prix. Even when you're not competitive and things are going tough you still get a lot of support there, being British, which is a great feeling. But also going there having won five races will be a nice feeling and hopefully there will be lots of Brawn caps out there. I think they've only just gone on sale but it would be nice to see a couple out there. It's a special race, whether you're in a good car or a not so good car. But turning up there winning the championship, yeah, it's going to be a nice feeling and hopefully I'll put on a good show in front of the home crowd. This guy (Barrichello) is going to be tough to beat there. I think he's beaten me every year he's been my team-mate but I will give it a good go.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Jenson, how was your graining on the option tyre at the beginning?
Button: I got a tiny bit, I think, but it didn't cost me a lot of lap time. We stopped earlier than expected but in the first couple of laps I wasn't pushing the tyre too hard because I thought it might grain and that might have been reason for it, it might also be because Rubens... I didn't grain and Rubens did because he was the following car and obviously you lose downforce but I was able to pull out a big enough gap. And I thought Rubens was maybe saving fuel initially but then the team said he was graining. It was a nice gap to have, very nice gap, when you're leading Monaco and you've got a 16s lead before the first stop. And then I really had to try and control the pace. Rubens seemed quicker at the start of the stints and I was quicker at the end which was more important for me to be quicker at the end, especially if he was stopping a lap or two later. In a way, you'd say that out of my wins this year, you could say that this one is the easiest but I also had a good gap but mentally this circuit is very tough. Every lap you have a chance of hitting a wall and that's game over and with the new big front wings, I'm sitting lower in the car as well. It's so easy to scrape a barrier with your front wing and that's game over, so you've got to be very precise. The thing is if you try and back off around here you lose a second and a half, so you've got to be pushing.
Q: (Peter Nugent - Riviera Radio) Jenson, you were very focused all weekend. How difficult was it to shut out all the distractions that Monaco always brings? And the second part of the question: you live here, your father John lives here, a family celebration tonight? What have you got planned?
Button: Well, I will be going to see Prince Albert later. I've got a suit and I'm looking forward to that. My mum's here, my dad's here and one of my sisters is here plus my girlfriend, so I've brought the full clan along and yeah, I'm sure we will have a good night as I'm sure most of us will. Monaco is a special race and Sunday night is a special night. Monaco puts on a good show.
Q: (Laurentzi Garmendia - Berria) Rubens, do you think the car suits Jenson more than you and is there a particular track where you think you can have the edge over him?
Barrichello: At the beginning of the season I think the car suited him a little bit more, especially given the problems that I've been having with the rear brakes being too hot. I had to run without the wheel covers and he could run with them. But since the upgrade in Barcelona, it came a little bit my way and it has helped me very much. I'm in the game pretty much. I think the car will suit me in Turkey, Silverstone... no, it can suit me anywhere. I don't think that a good driver can say I'm not doing well because the car is not suitable for me. If you're good enough, you just have to adapt to the car and that's it. It could come your way a little bit and could go away from you a little bit but at the end of the day you have to adapt to it and that's it.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, you made your second pit stop before Massa like the first one. Do think that if Jenson Button left the pits after the second pit stop behind Massa, do you think your place would have been at risk?
Raikkonen: I'm not interested in even thinking about it. Why should I? I was third in the end, that's the end result. I came in early because at the first stop we tried to jump Rubens because he was so slow with the tyres. We were forced to stop a bit because the people behind us were catching us quickly, so that's why we were earlier than him but in the end we were third and it doesn't matter what they did, that's where we ended up.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Jenson, you talked about maintaining your concentration around here for the last few laps. What's it like maintaining your concentration going forward now, not allowing yourself to get too far ahead of yourself and think of the bigger picture?
Button: Well, if you stop asking me the same questions over and over again about winning the World Championship I might be able to concentrate on the next race. I'm taking it as it comes. Nothing's changed. I don't know what would change if I did think about the World Championship to be fair. But I'm enjoying myself, as you can imagine and I'm just looking forward to the next weekend in Turkey but before that we've got a bit of enjoyment to do this evening.