Jenson Button says he anticipates problems with accidents and recovery during the Grand Prix of Europe race weekend, complaining there is not enough run-off in certain areas of the Baku City Circuit.
Ahead of the first free practice sessions to be held around the Azerbaijani street circuit, Button says his recce of the course has raised concerns in his mind that there is not enough contingency for drivers if they make mistakes, with T3, T7 and T15 of particular worry.
Indeed, though Button says the venue looks fun to drive, he is concerned not enough attention to detail has been paid to safety, suggesting racing at a layout as this is in contrast to what the drivers and FIA have been achieving with other circuits.
“I think it will be fun around the castle, it's very narrow,” he said. “I think in an F1 car it is unbelievably narrow at speed. The bit I don't like is a few corners. We work so hard on safety, improving circuits all the time and we come here and we have corners like T3, T7 and T15 that don't have any run off at all. Turn 7 has 3 TECPRO barriers and then a concrete barrier at the edge of the circuit. There is not much you can do because there is a building in the way. It is a shame really
“I think as far as they know they do every test possible for safety and run-off, they always have done in the past and I hope they still do that. But the way we have gone with safety and the way we have pushed it and some of the issues we have had in the past, you would think they still do that… but maybe I am wrong.”
Dismissing the comparison that Monaco lacks run-off in certain areas by saying this venue is different given its high-speed nature in places, though Button has faith that the FIA has done the necessary checks, he reckons a crash in already notorious T8-T12 would stop a race,
“I think we all do as drivers trust the FIA and they do a fantastic job of keeping us safe, they really do, and they have improved pretty much every circuit we go to, including Monaco. But running around it just looks like there is little run off.
“If a car hits the wall it is completely blocked and they will have to red flag whatever session it is,” he continued. “We just have to make sure that doesn't happen. The most difficult bit is when you enter that section and you have an 'Opticians' right in front of you.
“If you lock up and get it wrong and hit the barrier, then you will just stop dead and make it difficult for people to get around. If you hit the wall around the hill, you can't see either.”
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