Jenson Button: “I don’t think you should get penalised for preventing an accident”

Jenson Button - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Jenson Button has joined the chorus of drivers criticising the current radio rules in Formula 1 after receiving a drive-through penalty during the Hungarian Grand Prix after his team gave him instructions how to prevent a brake issue from having again.

The McLaren-Honda driver ultimately retired from the race with an oil leak, but felt the instructions given to him over the radio were safety related and not instructions on how to drive, and as such he should have not been penalised for it.

“It wasn’t a great afternoon for me,” said Button. “We had a brake sensor problem early on, which meant the pedal went to the floor, and it’s never nice for a driver to get that feeling.

“The brakes just weren’t there, which was a big safety concern. The team told me to make a switch change on the steering wheel to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and it duly resolved itself, but we got a penalty for the communication.

“We pitted so that they could give me the information I needed, but I guess we should have pitted earlier than we did. Having said that, it didn’t really matter as I was last anyway.”

The penalty comes two weeks after the controversy at Silverstone where Nico Rosberg was given a post-race penalty for instructions he received to overcome a gearbox penalty, but Button feels the current ruling into the radio rules needs to be readdressed to take into account safety concerns.

“I completely understand that drivers shouldn’t be fed information that helps us drive our cars – we should be able to deal with that job ourselves, and in fact I love that challenge,” said Button. “But when it’s a safety concern, I don’t think you should get penalised for preventing an accident, as we did today.

“When you have a power unit that’s so complex, a driver can’t figure out everything for himself. It’s a regulation that shouldn’t be in place at this level of a sport which is so good in so many other ways, and I think commonsense should now prevail.

“I also had a mechanical issue which meant I had massive understeer throughout the whole race; and then, in the end, we retired with an oil leak. I don’t know if it’s salvageable – I hope so – but we’re investigating.”