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Issue 304 – EXCLUSIVE! Racing hero Jenson talks to the Frome Times on eve of British Grand Prix

frome Times has caught up with Frome’s Formula 1 racing driving hero, Jenson Button, as he prepares for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend.

And we’ve teamed up with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to offer readers a chance to win a selection of exclusive Jenson goodies including a 2010 team cap, a team drawstring bag, multimedia sock, team flag, MP4-23 keyring, a teddy bear, and a steel team water bottle. We’ve got five sets to give away, worth £99 each.
Currently in second place in the 2010 F1 drivers’ challenge behind McLaren-Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson has finished in top three positions in six Grand Prix races out of nine held already this season.

Here, he pauses to reflect on the season so far and answers our questions…

Changing teams over the winter was seen by some as a brave move, but it’s been vindicated. What’s struck you most since you joined Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in January?
“As you say, it was a big decision, yeah. But one that I was convinced was the right decision – it was a new challenge for me, and the people around me. And it was exactly what I needed after becoming world champion last year.
“And ever since I arrived at the team, I’ve been overwhelmed by the way I’ve been received, and by the passion and enthusiasm that everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has for racing.
“It’s such a friendly place – everybody has been incredibly warm, and I’ve been made to feel so welcome. The team spirit is fantastic – and, make no mistake, this has been a genuine team effort – we’ve all pulled together incredibly well. I’ve already scored two race wins [in Australia and China] – hopefully, that’ll be just the start; we have some great momentum behind us now, and I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to continue to challenge for race wins and, hopefully, the world championship.”
Is the team what you expected?
“I’d been with my previous team – through its various incarnations – for seven seasons, so, naturally, you become very comfortable in that same environment. But that was one of the main reasons why I chose to sign with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes; I didn’t want to fall into a comfort zone, and I wanted a new challenge after winning the world championship. I wanted fresh motivation.
“And I have to say that joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has exceeded my expectations. It’s a fantastic environment – it’s great to be working with people with a huge passion for winning. And the friendly welcome I’ve been given by everyone in the team has been overwhelming. It’s all been very positive so far, yes.
What’s it been like working with Lewis?
“I think it helps that we’re both British – that’s not essential in a team-mate, of course – but we share the same background, we have moved through the same junior series and we’ve watched each other come through the ranks, so there’s a natural mutual respect there. Also, my dad used to prepare his kart engines when he was younger, so there’s been a strong link from way back.
“And, as team-mates, we fully understand the need to work together in order to develop the car. And we have a very good working relationship. We didn’t start the year with the fastest car, but we worked very hard together during the winter testing, exchanging notes and swapping feedback to make things better. And, at the races too, we’ve continued to work together, even though there’s obviously a natural rivalry that needs to exist between team-mates. So it’s all very positive.”
Do your two victories in 2010 go some way toward refuting the allegations that your world championship was largely achieved due to the quality of your car?
“I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying; every world champion needs a good car to win the title – there are no exceptions. But I’d always said that if I were given a car good enough to fight for the title, I would be able to win it. And I proved that in 2009 with Brawn GP.
“Every world championship is hard. You fight with your body and soul to win – and the season lasts for nine months, so you need to stay focused, sometimes under incredible pressure, in order to come through successfully.
“And I think I’ve shown this year that I can race well and I can win races. In fact, I think this season is more competitive than ever – not only am I in the hunt with Lewis, but the Red Bulls, the Ferraris and the Mercedes are all extremely quick. It’s incredibly tough to win races – and, if you make a single mistake, you’ll be out of luck. It’s that tight.”
What does it mean to be heading back to Great Britain for the Santander British Grand Prix?
“It’s been a long, tough and challenging season so far. We’ve only had nine races, but they’ve all been incredibly tough race weekends, and so much has gone on, that it feels like we’re much further into the season than we really are.
“For me, coming back to Britain for the Grand Prix gives you that extra time and ability to relax; you’re on home turf, everything’s familiar to you and you can just get on with the weekend. There are thousands of fans cheering you on too, which is both daunting but also very motivating, because you don’t want to let a single one of them down.
“It’s one of the best race weekends of the year, and I’m really looking forward to trying out the brand new Silverstone layout – it looks fantastic, and I hope it will produce some great racing.”
Finally, do you have any words for your home fans in Frome?
“As always, I want to say a big thank-you for always being by my side, and for cheering me on – particularly when times were hard and it was difficult. Being world champion, and being in such a competitive position this season is the perfect way to repay you for all your belief and persistence.
“I really enjoyed my visit to Frome back in May, and it was fantastic to be able to show people that I’m still a Frome boy and I still get a buzz from their support.
“Racing on home soil this weekend will make me feel particularly proud to be British, and I hope I can count on all of your support to get me through the weekend with the best possible result.”

Competition

Frome Times has teamed up with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to offer five readers a selection of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team goods, with each set worth £99 – all courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
Each winner will receive a 2010 team cap, a team drawstring bag, multimedia sock, team flag, MP4-23 keyring, a teddy bear, and a steel team water bottle.
All you have to do is answer the following question: Where did Jenson Button win his first Grand Prix? Answers should be emailed to frometimes@btconnect.com with a full name and address and contact telephone number before 5pm on Thursday 15th July. All correct answers will be put into a hat and winners will be selected at random.

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