Jenson Button was adamant yesterday that the right decision was made in calling a halt to qualifying ahead of today’s Australian Grand Prix.
The start to the new Formula One season was yesterday shrouded in chaos as adverse weather hit Melbourne’s Albert Park, where the second and third sessions were rescheduled to be run just six hours ahead of the race.
Heavy rain forced an initial half-hour delay to the opening 20-minute Q1 in which the conditions resulted in a number of incidents, notably involving Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Esteban Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic.
Soon after the session concluded, the rain again poured and, with the light rapidly fading, the decision was eventually made to hold the remainder of qualifying over until today, although more rain was forecast.
Although the call will have disappointed fans, Button, pictured below, insisted the dangers were too high.
“When it gets too wet for these tyres it doesn’t matter what speed you drive around, you will aquaplane. The tyre cannot take a certain amount of water,” said Button. “That’s especially the case when there is a river running across the circuit. When it is that wet out there, there is no difference between the rivers and the circuit. And when you hit a river you are completely out of control. You might as well just close your eyes and take your hands off the steering wheel because the car does what it wants. That’s not what Formula One racing is all about. It’s about a guy trying to tame a 750 horsepower Formula One car and in conditions where he can possibly tame it, because in this weather you can’t.
“You could say 30 years ago they probably would have raced in these conditions but safety has come a long way since then,” added the Briton. “I’m very happy I’m racing at this moment in time because this is correct to not run today. Many times we’ve questioned the FIA’s decision when it comes to safety, that they don’t call a red flag early enough in qualifying or a race. But lately they have been great, they’ve called it well.”
Lewis Hamilton was in full agreement with his former McLaren team-mate, especially after his own incident in which he spun, damaging the rear wing of his Mercedes as he clipped a tyre wall. “It was dangerous out there. This track is incredibly dangerous,” said Hamilton. “It’s probably one of the slipperiest I’ve raced on in the rain, simply because there are a lot of white lines everywhere that are painted black. It’s like driving on ice in those parts.”