At the recent British Grand Prix, I read a newspaper story that made me do a double take. Jenson Button was suggesting that if it was raining it would be too dangerous to race. He complained that there was a river running across the track at one of its fastest points and that if the cars hit it at speed they could spin out of control. Errr, how about slowing down?
I found it astonishing that someone who is paid multi millions to drive a racing car could be so thoughtless to the thousands of paying punters who’ve helped elevate him to that lofty position. It’s fine if Button doesn’t want to race. He can get into his private helicopter, fly to his private jet and go back to his multi-million pound Monaco existence. It’s not quite so simple for the fans in the stands, many of whom save up for their grand prix weekend.
If Button can’t take the rough with the smooth and drive in torrential conditions, then it’s his right to slow down a bit, or even abandon the race. No one thought any the less of Niki Lauda when he withdrew from the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix. Ditto Alain Prost after the rain-soaked 1988 British GP. What Button is wrong to do, in my humble opinion, is suggest that the whole race should be called off. Just because he doesn’t fancy it doesn’t mean there won’t be drivers further down the grid and even McLaren’s tester Oliver Jarvis who wouldn’t grab the opportunity with both hands.
For a story I was writing recently I had to select some clips of F1 drivers doing their thing. Check this one on board with Nigel Mansell at the start of the 1991 San Marino GP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ORkRk0J85A. Bear in mind that what we see is what the driver sees in this instance. Never heard Mansell complain about racing. Many other things, never racing.