This week Jenson Button was signed up to British American Racing for 2003 and beyond; he explains the reasons behind the decision and what he hopes for the future. Q: You've been linked with half the teams on the grid recently. What swung it for...
This week Jenson Button was signed up to British American Racing for 2003 and beyond; he explains the reasons behind the decision and what he hopes for the future.
Q: You've been linked with half the teams on the grid recently. What swung it for B.A.R?
Lots of reasons. I think one of them was David Richards. He's been at the team six months already, he's already changed a lot of things round and I think for the future, that's very positive.
This is a team that isn't going to be world champions next year, it's going to take a little time to get there but they've got the right resources and the right people to be able to become world champions. That's my aim too so, long-term, this is the perfect team.
Q: You've signed what could potentially be a four-year deal. How important is that continuity?
Continuity is always very good. It's difficult to know who my team-mate is going to be but if it's Jacques, I think we will be a very good team for the long term. It's a new fresh image for the team and I think it will be perfect.
Q: Can you give us an idea of the timescale of your talks with B.A.R?
A couple of weeks. I signed the contract on Sunday. There had been a lot of talks but in a very short period. It's fantastic. I'm really looking forward to next year.
Q: How quickly did you decide that they were the team for you?
It's taken a long time because there were a lot of teams out there interested and I had to choose between them. There were positives with each team, but this one had the most positives and the most possibilities of achieving in the future.
Q: How did David Richards convince you to come here?
He's a man that I've known for quite a while. He's a man who stands by his word and he always achieves what he sets out to achieve. He's changed the team a lot in the last six months in the background and I think you'll see that on track next year.
He's very excited for the next few years. To see him excited is pretty unusual! He's a great man to work with and he can really do the job -- he has in everything else he's done.
Q: What do you feel is a realistic target for next season?
I think you've got to ask the designers more than me! I don't really know what's on the cards for next year but I know that it will be a much better car than this year and I think the Honda engine will also be better than this year. But I don't know any more than that.
Geoff Willis is the technical director, he arrived earlier this year, wasn't really able to work on the car that much and he's already made a difference so I can't see why we won't be quick next year -- it's just where we'll be compared to the other teams.
Q: You've worked with Geoff Willis before at Williams. Did that enter your thinking at all?
Yeah, it did. That was one of the plus points of the team. I've worked with him at Williams and he was a fantastic guy. He always listens and he always does a very good job. B.A.R have been able to nab him and it's good to have him in the team. It's exciting -- and I think he's excited about working here too.
Q: And presumably it makes it easier settling into a team if there are people who you've worked with before?
Yeah. But at B.A.R everyone involved seems to be very friendly and easy to work so I'm looking forward to working with all of them.
Q: You've partnered some great drivers in the past -- Ralf, Fisichella, Trulli...
Tell me about it!
...But you could be up against a world champion next year. How do you think you'll cope and will it change your approach?
No, not at all. I've been up against Ralf who obviously is a very quick driver. Fisichella was awesomely quick, a very complete driver. Jarno again is a good driver, very quick in qualifying. None of them are slow. It's Formula 1. None of them are going to be slow. But those three are three of the best in the world, I think.
Now with Jacques, it doesn't get any easier but we've got to work together. We're not going to win a world championship in the future if we're not working as a team so we need to do that.
Q: How good a driver are BAR getting? You're in your third year of F1 now - how much have you still to learn and to improve?
I think in Formula 1 you are always learning. I will get better, as every other driver will. But I've built up a lot of experience over the last three years with two very experienced and quick teams. I think I can get the best possible out of a car and relay as much information as I can about the car.
Q: You know BAR test driver Anthony Davidson from your days together in karts. Did you speak to him before signing for the team?
I haven't seen him for ages, actually! I don't know what race he was at last but I haven't spoken to him for a while. When I see him at a circuit, we'll always have a chat.
Q: Although Renault are based in Oxfordshire, you're returning to a proper British team. It will obviously be popular with your fans but is that something you're happy about?
For me, it doesn't really make any difference working for an English team or a French team. This year at Renault, it has been good working with the French. But even B.A.R isn't a fully British team because there is Honda and they are Japanese. As long as we work well together, and I'm sure we will, that's all that matters.
Q: How will you handle the rest of the season? Will you be fully focused on Renault or will you have one eye on what is going on at B.A.R?
I'll be fully focused on Renault. I'll be looking at how the B.A.R is doing but obviously next year is going to be very different to this season. It will be a completely different car so I'm not going to be able to see much this year that will show what it can do next season.
I've got to concentrate on my job this year -- I've been working with Renault for a year and a half and I'm still contracted to them so I've got to do the best job I can and get as many points as I can.
Q: You've had experience of this sort of situation before when you left Williams for Renault. Is it a difficult time?
It was then. I didn't think it would be but I was very inexperienced then. Williams didn't make many changes because it was quite a good car. Then I moved to Renault and I found it very difficult. But that was down to inexperience and now I can work more with the car, I know what it is doing and I can feel it more, so I'm not worried about moving team at all.
My next four years are here, I've got no relationships with any other teams so I'll be 100 per cent B.A.R.