Button may quit over team orders; Williams: Bring them back; Virgin set to retain Glock and di Grassi; Red Bull downplays Korea demo
Jenson Button has publicly stated that he would rather quit than accept being given team orders in Formula One.
The reigning world champion’s comments come in the wake of speculation that Formula One’s Sporting Working Group will abolish Article 39.1 and reinstate the use of team orders.
However, Button has voiced his concerns over the recent speculation and believes it would be bad for Formula One.
“If only one driver was in with a chance of the championship then I’d still rather not have team orders but I would understand if the team came to you and said ‘you can’t win the world championship so don’t make it as difficult as you probably would otherwise’,” Button is quoted as saying by Autosport.
“But while you are still fighting for the world championship it is very strange to me that a driver is told to move over. I don’t understand that at all and I don’t understand anyone in the sport who would want to race in those circumstances. You are not racing to win are you? What is the point of finishing second?”
He added: “Unless you are here for other reasons than I am. I am here because I am passionate about the sport and I want to win. I want to beat every other driver out there.
“If you are here for other reasons maybe you don’t mind moving over for your team-mate. I have never had it in my career. I have been racing for 10 years and I have never been told to move over and never has my team-mate been told to move over for me.”
Button is also adamant that the move would shorten his career in Formula One, stating: “If team orders come in then I will consider my future. I wouldn’t stop straight away, but I think it will definitely shorten my career in F1.
“You don’t want to be the driver on the negative end of it but you also don’t want to be the driver on the other end. When I won the world championship last year at no point during the season was my team-mate told to slow down or give up a position or anything.
“For me that was such a challenge as you are fighting your team-mate for the title as well as anyone else.
“You are working as a team as you are working to improve the car to fight against all the other teams and drivers and you are fighting for the constructors’ championship so it is a team sport. But you are also fighting for yourself and trying to win the drivers’ world championship.”
However, Button’s opinion is in direct contrast to former team boss Sir Frank Williams who revealed that he supported Ferrari at this week’s FIA disciplinary hearing.
Speaking to Autosport about why he wrote a letter to the FIA in support of the Italian squad, Williams stated: “…we supported, not necessarily Ferrari’s particular move, but the principle of team orders being permitted. We wrote the letter because we were sincere; we’re no friends of Ferrari but we just thought that the restriction on team orders is not necessary.
“It’s all up for discussion. One provisional thought is that maybe they should just be applicable in the second half of the season. We’ve got to remember that drivers think of themselves – great but then we want world championships.
“There are two in every year there’s the teams’ as well and you’ve got to have two very high performing cars wherever possible. It’s most rare that you have two drivers of equal performance in the same team and we paid a heavy price for it with Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. That cost us.”
Although the 68-year-old concedes that many fans would be angered by the return of team orders, he believes that the needs of the sport’s competitors must also be considered.
“If you wanted to appease some of the more puritan fans, there should be no team orders under any circumstances whatsoever,” he said. “Putting another layer on the discussion, if you win a world championship, you can open the door because the money is going to flow in and you can easily stay in business.
“If you don’t win a championship, you win some races, you negotiate hard and you stay in business.
“But if you don’t have any good results at all it’s difficult to survive. But when you win a world championship, it’s much easier for the following year or two. To win a championship is in the team’s interest, because Ferrari doesn’t have to worry about money but most other teams do.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Racing looks set to retain its current driver line-up next season, with team principal John Booth fanning speculation that GP2 front-runner Jerome D’Ambrosio would replace Lucas di Grassi.
“Obviously Timo is here next year, his contract is tight with both of us, and both of us are very happy with what is happening,” Booth told Autosport. “So Timo is 100 percent.
When assed on D’Ambrosio, he added: “We have an option on Lucas which looks pretty good as well, so in an ideal world we will keep the same drivers next year.”
“No. I’ve heard similar rumours as well, but it’s that time of years for rumours. Jerome has been helping us out a little bit since [test driver] Andy Soucek left. All he has been doing is helping us out as a stand-by because he has a superlicence.”
Finally, Red Bull Racing has rebuked suggestions that the team’s demonstration run in Korea was of an advantage.
Earlier this week the Milton Keynes-based squad provided a car for Karun Chandhok to complete the first few laps of the new Yeongam circuit.
However, with some stating that the outfit may have gained insight knowledge ahead of October’s race, team principal Christian Horner has moved to clarify the purpose of the event.
“It was close to a six year old car with a V10 engine – especially derived for running show car projects – with a very basic telemetry system, on a track that was missing its final service and kerbs, with a driver that isn’t our regular driver,” he told Autosport.
“It was purely a demonstration run for our new partner LG and Red Bull South Korea. The car has absolutely zero relevance to what we are running here. It would have been the same if we had run a GP2 car.”