Jenson Button thinks he has a good chance of challenging for victory at next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, and singles out the night race as one that he would ‘most love to win’.
The 2009 world champion, who has comprehensively out-performed McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the last three races, points out that he has performed well on other tight and twisty circuits this season, reasoning that he should do similarly well around this next street circuit.
“This is one of the races I'd most love to win and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to show the same sort of pace that we showed at Monaco and Hungary, where I had two of my best drives of the year,” said Button.
“It's strange to have concluded the European season and still have six more races remaining. Personally, I love this end-of-year series of flyaway races – the circuits we visit are really diverse and, from a drivers' perspective, they're some of the best tracks on the calendar.
“I flew out to Singapore via Japan, so I've had the chance to spend a few days getting myself ready. Of course, for Singapore, we'll revert to the slightly unusual European timetable to ensure that we're as fit, alert and focused for the night race as we would be for any other grand prix.
“Given our current form, I'm positive that Singapore will be another strong race for us. I've been really satisfied with the pace of the car and the efforts of the team. Nevertheless, winning is what we're all about and that's what we'll definitely be aiming for this weekend.”
Hamilton, who won in Singapore in 2009, is a big fan of the track. He recognises the challenges posed by this circuit, and is optimistic of getting a good result next weekend.
“I love street circuits and I really enjoy this place – it's almost two tracks in one: there are quite a few fast corners, which require good set-up and a bit of commitment, but there are also lots of tighter 90-degree bends, which are slower and more technical,” explains Hamilton. “You've got to keep it precise through these and just be patient, waiting for the tyres to bite before getting on the throttle. If you're impatient, then you end up losing time because you over-stress the tyres and you over-drive the car.
“Still, I'll really be pushing for a good result next weekend. I think we had a car capable of winning in both Belgium and Italy, so I really want to make sure we arrive in Singapore with a good set-up, and that we're able to run with it through practice and qualifying. If it all goes to plan, we should be in good shape on Sunday.
“Even though the title is now almost out of reach I'll be pushing hard for the best possible result. I will never give up and I’ll be driving to win as always.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is expecting a very exciting race in Singapore next weekend, and heralds this unique night race as one of the ‘modern wonders’ of Formula 1.
“We go to Singapore feeling very encouraged about our performance potential,” he said. “I also think we're set to continue the trend we've witnessed so far this season, with DRS enlivening races that hitherto would have been somewhat processional.
“At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, the reality is that we're fortunate enough to have two drivers who are never satisfied to merely sit behind another car; but the addition of DRS means that we should expect some truly electrifying racing this weekend. The track is wide enough to support close and exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and I sincerely hope that's what we see this weekend.
“In just a few years, the Singapore Grand Prix has become a classic Formula 1 event – the circuit and facilities are truly world-class and the setting and atmosphere of the race make it one of the jewels of the calendar.
“If circuits like Spa, Silverstone, Monza and Monaco represent the epitome of classic Formula 1, then a circuit such as Marina Bay has, I think, quickly established itself as one of the sport's modern wonders and greatest success stories.”