Button ready to enjoy what could be his final grand prix


ABU DHABI – Jenson Button says that he has enjoyed his race weekend in Abu Dhabi so far despite knowing that it could prove to be his final appearance as a Formula 1 driver after 14 years in the sport.

McLaren is yet to confirm its line up for the 2015 season, but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is likely to return to Woking after seven years away, leaving either Button or teammate Kevin Magnussen on the sidelines.

Although Button has more experience, Magnussen only made his debut at the beginning of the season, and is yet to truly prove what he can do in Formula 1 thanks to the troublesome MP4-29 car. Should the Dane get the nod for 2015, it could be Button that is left out in the cold.

McLaren has confirmed that it will be making its driver announcement after December 1st, meaning that Button will not be given a send off if this weekend’s race does prove to be his final race.

However, this does not faze Button. Although the prospect is playing on his mind, he is simply enjoying his racing surrounded by his closest family and friends in Abu Dhabi.

“A lot goes through your head, and it has been for the last few months,” Button said. “When you’re out of the car, you’re unsure how to feel really, but when I drive the car, nothing’s different.

“Of course, in the car compared to out of the car is very different to normal, so I probably enjoy my driving a little bit more because I’m away from all the questions and away from people in the pit lane smiling at me more than normal, or sort of a little unhappy face. It’s a weird situation to be in, it really is, but there you go.

“For me, the important thing is that I enjoy today. Yesterday was a very difficult day for us as a team, but I feel we brought it back. I was little bit disappointed in Q3 because of the traffic issues that we had. Qualified eighth, and hopefully that’s a position we can build on for the race tomorrow. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“My whole family will be here to enjoy tomorrow with them whatever happens. That’s the most important thing right now.”

Button has recently been tweeting some memories from his career, and posted a picture of his driver room for the weekend that contained pictures of his finest moments in Formula 1. However, he said that this should not be read into too much.

“The pictures that are in my room, that’s a lovely gift from the BBC, stuck on the wall by my lovely physio – nothing to do with me whatsoever,” Button said. “I hope this isn’t my last grand prix, I really do, because I feel I have a lot to give.

“But, of course, there’s something in the back of your mind thinking it possibly could be, so you have to enjoy it as much as you can.

“I’m going to do the best job I can, but off-circuit with family and friends, obviously we talk about things probably more than we would normally. So far I’ve enjoyed this weekend, and it’s great having my family here.”

After New York whirlwind, Josef Newgarden makes special trip to simulator before Detroit


DETROIT – There’s no rest for the weary as an Indy 500 winner, but Josef Newgarden discovered there are plenty of extra laps.

The reigning Indy 500 champion added an extra trip Wednesday night back to Concord, N.C., for one last session on the GM Racing simulator before Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

After a 30-year run on the Belle Isle course, the race has been moved to a nine-turn, 1.7-mile layout downtown, so two extra hours on the simulator were worth it for Newgarden.

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“I really wanted to do it,” he told NBC Sports at a Thursday media luncheon. “If there’s any time that the sim is most useful, it’s in this situation when no one has ever been on a track, and we’re able to simulate it as best as we can. We want to get some seat time.

“It’s extra important coming off the Indy 500 because you’ve been out of rhythm for a road or street course-type environment, so I really wanted some laps. I was really appreciative to Chevy. There was a few guys that just came in and stayed late for me so I could get those laps before coming up here. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference, but I feel like it’s going to help for me.”

After a whirlwind tour of New York for two days, Newgarden arrived at the simulator (which is at the GM Racing Technical Center adjacent to Hendrick Motorsports) in time for a two hour session that started at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He stayed overnight in Charlotte and then was up for an early commercial flight to Detroit, where he had more media obligations.

Newgarden joked that if he had a jet, he would have made a quick stop in Nashville, Tennessee, but a few more days away from home (where he has yet to return in weeks) is a worthy tradeoff for winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – though the nonstop interviews can take a toll.

“It’s the hardest part of the gig for me is all this fanfare and celebration,” Newgarden said. “I love doing it because I’m so passionate about the Indy 500 and that racetrack and what that race represents. I feel honored to be able to speak about it. It’s been really natural and easy for me to enjoy it because I’ve been there for so many years.

“Speaking about this win has been almost the easiest job I’ve ever had for postrace celebrations. But it’s still for me a lot of work. I get worn out pretty easily. I’m very introverted. So to do this for three days straight, it’s been a lot.”

Though he is terrified of heights, touring the top of the Empire State Building for the first time was a major highlight (and produced the tour’s most viral moment).

“I was scared to get to the very top level,” Newgarden said. “That thing was swaying. No one else thought it was swaying. I’m pretty sure it was. I really impressed by the facility. I’d never seen it before. It’s one of those bucket list things. If you go to New York, it’s really special to do that. So to be there with the wreath and the whole setup, it just felt like an honor to be in that moment.”

Now the attention shifts to Detroit and an inaugural circuit that’s expected to be challenging. Along with a Jefferson Avenue straightaway that’s 0.9 miles long, the track has several low-speed corners and a “split” pit lane (teams will stop on both sides of a rectangular area) with a narrow exit that blends just before a 90-degree lefthand turn into Turn 1.

Newgarden thinks the track is most similar to the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

“It’s really hard to predict with this stuff until we actually run,” he said. “Maybe we go super smooth and have no issues. Typically when you have a new event, you’re going to have some teething issues. That’s understandable. We’ve always got to massage the event to get it where we want it, but this team has worked pretty hard. They’ve tried to get feedback constantly on what are we doing right, what do we need to look out for. They’ve done a ton of grinding to make sure this surface is in as good of shape as possible.

“There’s been no expense spared, but you can’t foresee everything. I have no idea how it’s going to race. I think typically when you look at a circuit that seems simple on paper, people tend to think it’s not going to be an exciting race, or challenging. I find the opposite always happens when we think that way. Watch it be the most exciting, chaotic, entertaining race.

Newgarden won the last two pole positions at Belle Isle’s 2.35-mile layout and hopes to continue the momentum while avoiding any post-Brickyard letdown.

“I love this is an opportunity for us to get something right quicker than anyone else,” he said. “A new track is always exciting from that standpoint. I feel I’m in a different spot. I’m pretty run down. I’m really trying to refocus and gain some energy back for tomorrow. Which I’ll have time to today, which is great.

“I don’t want that Indy 500 hangover. People always talk about it. They’ve always observed it. That doesn’t mean we have to win this weekend, but I’d like to leave here feeling like we had a really complete event, did a good job and had a solid finish leading into the summer. I want to win everywhere I go, but if we come out of here with a solid result and no mistakes, then probably everyone will be happy with it.”