Friday 21 October 2016

Jenson Button 'lucky' after close call with flying drain cover ahead of Monaco Grand Prix

Daniel Johnson

Published 27/05/2016 | 16:23

Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Jenson Button counted himself a “lucky” man on Thursday after he narrowly avoided being struck on the head by a loose drain cover in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

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The “extremely dangerous” safety breach happened in morning practice when the drain cover came loose after Nico Rosberg drove over it coming out of Sainte Devote.

Rosberg escaped with a puncture but the cover bounced in the air, nearly hitting Button on the helmet as he accelerated out of the first corner. Instead, the flying metal hit the front wing of his McLaren, shattering it along with the front suspension.

Button, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said the issue would be raised at the drivers’ briefing on Thursday as it was an unacceptable safety issue.

The 36-year-old said: “I think we have enough risks. It’s a controlled environment it should be. I have to say that normally here it’s very good for safety in terms of what they do. That was an incident we definitely don’t want to see again. We’re lucky it just damaged the car.

“I heard it was welded down but they have to stay down. We have enough dangers. A drain cover lifting in the air for an open top car is extremely dangerous. The FIA [motorsport’s governing body] know that shouldn’t happen and it won’t happen again.

“It’s one of those things – it hits the car and you think nothing of it. It’s only when you get back to the pits and think about if it had gone a foot the other way, it could have been a lot worse. That didn’t happen, but it possibly could have happened.”

The incident will renew debate around closed cockpits to prevent drivers being injured by flying debris. Charlie Whiting, the race director, immediately visited the scene after the session before the drain cover was fixed.

It was reminiscent of 2010 grand prix here when Rubens Barrichello suffered a puncture running of a drain cover that had become loose during the race.

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