Team orders would make me quit, says Button
Budapest: World champion Jenson Button has condemned “team orders” in Formula One and said he would walk away from the sport if it was no longer a fair fight between drivers.
The McLaren driver told reporters that he would not want to race for any team that had a recognised number one or number two.
“I wouldn’t be interested in racing in F1 if, from the first race, there is the possibility that you could be a number one driver or a number two driver. What’s the point?” the Briton said at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
His comments follow controversy at the German Grand Prix last Sunday, when Ferrari were fined by the sport’s governing body after their apparent use of banned team orders engineered a win for Fernando Alonso over team mate Felipe Massa.
Button, whose team mate is 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, added: “You’re here to win, you’re here to be the best, and you should have equal opportunity to the next guy that’s sat alongside you in the same car.
“He should also get every opportunity otherwise it’s not a drivers’ sport any more, it is a complete and utter team sport. Formula One is a team sport, but when you cross the finish line you are the person that wins the drivers’ championship.
“For me, if it wasn’t down to the individual, I wouldn’t be interested in racing any more.”
Ferrari triggered a furore at Hockenheim when Brazilian Massa, leading the race, responded to a radio message by allowing Spanish team mate Alonso to overtake him and secure the victory.
The Italian team was fined $100,000 and referred to the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) for possible further action.
Button moved to McLaren from champions Brawn GP at the end of last year because he said he wanted a new challenge and to measure himself against Hamilton.
He said he would not want to have any preference over a team mate either.
“You’ve the same equipment, and if he does a better job he comes out on top, and if you do a better job you come out on top,” said the 30-year-old, who added that he had never had to let a team mate pass or be gifted a win.
“That’s one of the biggest buzzes in F1 -- fighting your team mate -- and fighting a world champion is such a buzz for me.
“If I suddenly realised that he didn’t have the same equipment as me, or I was being favoured, then I wouldn’t be happy about that because I would think we’d all been cheated.”
Button said his former Brawn team mate Rubens Barrichello was upset at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix after losing out to the Briton but there had been no skulduggery involved.
“I remember Rubens last year getting very emotional at one point in the season, but he realised that was not the situation,” he said.
“Certain races didn’t work out for him, as they didn’t work out for me because of different strategies. It was pure luck. It wasn’t anything to do with team orders.”
Button said Massa, who had been hoping for his first win since he suffered life-threatening head injuries in Hungary exactly a year ago, had deserved better.
“He drove a really good race and I think showed he is performing very well, so I feel sorry for Felipe,” Button said.
“He is getting so many questions about last weekend, when all he wants to do is get on and race and show what he can do, and hopefully he will do that this weekend. Hopefully he won’t be too quick.”