Button says “I backed off” after Massa’s crash

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Jenson Button said he backed off when Felipe Massa crashed in front of him at the end of qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver set his fastest lap of Q3 after passing the scene of Massa’s crash as the yellow flags came out.

Speaking after qualifying he said: “No he was heading into the gravel I think as I was coming up to it.

“I saw the tyre marks, I saw the smoke, and then I saw the yellow flag but I was actually in the yellow flag zone already.

“So we’ll see what happens. But I backed off and I hope it’s enough.”

Button said he was “not at all happy” with the car’s performance in qualifying and was hoping it would perform better in the race:

“This morning the car felt great. The pace was good and the car just felt good.

“And this afternoon I just couldn’t find any grip. On the hard tyre I couldn’t find any grip and on the soft tyre the same.

“I didn’t really get a clear lap on either of my soft tyre runs. The traffic’s been terrible out there. I think because the tyres aren’t working the first lap, people are trying it and then backing out of it so there’s cars everywhere.

“I think I’ll end up fourth tomorrow so we’ll see. At the moment I’ve got to work out why I can’t find a balance. And then hopefully we’ll have a better race than qualifying, it was a disaster qualifying really.

“The car felt good on high fuel yesterday and hopefully we’ll have that balance for tomorrow.”

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    79 comments on “Button says “I backed off” after Massa’s crash”

    1. Hmmm… just watch Hamilton say that and watch the Stewards slam him with a penalty still

      1. Why? First of all, Button himself admits its up to the stewards to decide about how much he backed off being enough. He might still be penalized for it.

        And Hamilton did not back of at all, insead he was on his DRS when driving past the place where Marshalls were still towing the Williams away.
        In other words, not a comparable situation at all.

        1. You have to go by stats and not what people say. Button says he backed off, but his time is still under 1.25. That is not backing off.

          1. @vishy What’s the significance of 1’25?

            I think you need to take the sector times into account here as I explained below.

            1. Yes you are correct Keith, sector time in the last sector would be the correct way to analyze it. I did not have the sector time so i made an overall assesment on the time he set.

              If we take Q2 into account button was about 2 tenths off Hamilton. In Q3 he was about 5 tenths off. So that might have saved him.

          2. His S2 time for that lap was 0.4-0.7 seconds slower than everyone around him suggesting he may indeed have backed off considering he was only under yellows for about 2 seconds. Anyway, the stewards will have the telemetry and no doubt make an IMPARTIAL decision based on it

            1. ….Everyone around him…., based on the final grid position or based on that very instance Massa had his crash?

              Button’s argument that he lifted off, doesn’t hold any water, because he set a faster time than he had set previously, which is the myopic reference the stewards base their judgements on when determining compliance with safety rules.
              If he was setting slower sector times than those who out qualified him, it till mean he probably didn’t lift off, besides how much of a lift is a lift.

              I really will be surprised if he got any penalty, especially if the incident was happening as he was getting there and no “marshals” were yet on track.
              I doubt also that Herbert will want to give him anything more than a reprimand if need be.

            2. @Oliver, but his sector time for his previous lap was really slow: that was a second warm-up lap, to bring the tyres in slowly. the only reference they need is the throttle telemetry in comparison with hamiltons throttle telemetry at that sector, and aso speed figures from both cars

            3. Oliver, its really easy. Hamilton clearly was NOT backing off, he said so himself.

              Button did back off somewhat, and its up to the stewards if that will be seen to have been enough or not. They will have to decide, based on all the data available, exactly that point, how much of a lift is considered lifing enough to be safe.

        2. I dont buy the ‘button lifted off’ excuse, he was going through a series of cornes, drivers lift off in those areas anyway. He finished the lap a few tenths behind Hamilton, where he is practically every session.

          Button took those series of corners as he normally would have (maybe very slightly more off throttle than normal), but you can see he goes full steam through the yellow lights.

          It dosnt matter that Button recognised Massa going off, those yellows could be out for something else too, you can’t just presume. Thats why they are there to be obeyed.

          1. True, and so it is good Button realised it was ultimately up to the stewards to decide.

            What race was it again where BUT,HAM, and WEB were given a reprimand for not reacting to a yellow bc. it happened in a corner where they were lifting already, and it only happened just before they got there (VET was already just past, so didn’t have that problem). Shows that it can happen.

            But since he already was near the end of the sector when it happened, a faster sector time could just mean he was a lot faster in the earlier part already, in which case telemetry will show that.

    2. I think the situation with Hamilton and Button was different (although I didn’t see FP1) as there were double waved yellows in Hamilton’s case, and Massa had just gone off in front of Button, so I won’t buy into “Hamilton got put back three places, so so has Button”.

      The only thing that can be said against Button was that he may not have slowed down for the false yellow (after he had already cleared Massa). On the other hand, it may be difficult to prove he backed off, as he probably hasn’t been quicker through those corners all through the weekend.

      1. The situations are the same in as such that both drivers passed through yellow flag zones. In both cases there was some confusion / lack of consistency (see http://vimeo.com/31262768), but nevertheless yellow flags / lights were shown to both drivers.

        Hamilton did not back off and therefore was given a penalty. How much Button backed off, remains to be seen.

        1. I hadn’t seen the incident before. It seems a little harsh- the yellow flags for Hamilton was fairly hidden, and they clearly shouldn’t have even been there, but I suppose you still need to obey the flags/rules, even if they are being implemented incorrectly.

          Button should be fine though.

        2. Thanks for that, I hadn’t seen that FP1 ending myself before. It does look confusing, and clearly something to sort out for the race tomorrow, I think: a clear green light, just meters after double (unclearly) waved yellow; but as HAM admits, he should have seen the flags, slowed a bit, and then could have taken the corner (after the light) full on again.

          The tricky part with the Button thing is that he didn’t seem to lift off with the yellow light (but of course, telemetry will (have) confirmed he did, or not).

          As you say, the most important bit remains that a driver can’t judge if a flag or sign given by the marshals is appropriate or not, he/she has to just obey it, and perhaps comment on it later if it was given in error.

    3. Good boy.

    4. When he went into that long multiple-apex turn afterwards (can’t remember which one that is?) the board were waving green. so be the time he even had time to back off for the yellows, he was past the incident and he might as well have carried on driving.

    5. all depends on whether the telemetry supports this. Im guessing he’ll be penalised

    6. Button’s sector two time on his last lap was a 22.9 (rounded off on the F1.com timing screen). The FIA lists his fastest sector two time for the entire session as a 22.931, which could count against him.

      On the other hand, that sector two time was 0.4s slower than Hamilton’s best in qualifying, which could go in Button’s favour.

      It’s a close call and the telemetry may be the clincher.

      Whether the yellow should have been shown is a non-issue as far as Button potentially getting a penalty goes. The fact is it was shown. The question is whether Button’s reaction was sufficient.

      1. I guess even if it hadn’t been shown he should have (and would have) backed off.

        But for the penalty, its right he is waiting for the stewards to decide if he backed off enough.

        The fact it was his fastest sector is not good, but then again he only set fast laps before in Q1 and Q2 and there was some track development after that, so it does not have to be desicive.

        But its clear to see how the discussion yesterday about what grid we talk about for penalties was very much to the point.

        With Petrov getting a 5 places drop, both Perez and Hamilton their 3 places drop, Karthikeyan getting his “5 place” grid drop to below Ricciardo and Glock starting last, if indeed the stewards confirm him being allowed to start the race, it will be a bit of a hassle even without Button getting one as well!

        1. Oh, and I just forgot about Ricciardo also getting one, won’t he.

          1. And he will thus not profit from Glocks’ gearbox woes, making it more of a penalty than they probably would have thought.

      2. “On the other hand, that sector two time was 0.4s slower than Hamilton’s best in qualifying, which could go in Button’s favour.”

        Button is typically 3-4 tenths slower than Hamilton anyway, we’ve seen this over the past 2 years of hot-laps between them.

        1. Button is typically 3-4 tenths slower than Hamilton anyway

          Over a lap, maybe, not a single sector.

          1. As John H said, even if he matched Hamiltons best sector, is giving up a few tenths at one apex (which translates to the very slightest of lifts in one of these cars) really sufficient? I guess the stewards think so.

            There could have been any number of things gone wrong in those series of turns besides Massa going off and Button made a presumption and practically still kept his foot right ‘on it’, finishing his lap less than the blink of an eye behind one of the quickest lappers in the sport.

            Very poor decision by the stewards.

      3. He didn’t back off sufficiently.

        Comparing to Hamilton doesn’t make sense because in the interview with the BBC after qualifying he said the unlike FP3 he had no grip.

        I’m afraid if the FIA don’t give a penalty it doesn’t look great to be honest.

        1. Just to back that point up, even if he was going to set the same sector time as Hamilton, how is giving up 0.4 seconds really ‘slowing down’?

          I know he saw the accident but as Jake Humphrey correctly stated, he wouldn’t have known if any other cars were involved or whether there was a dog loose on the track, or anything like that.

      4. I think sector time is also irrelevant (or should be)- if all the stewards are looking for is a lift, then they should look for that at the appropriate corner. Wasn’t it his first real flying lap anyway, meaning he was always going to improve that sector, almost no matter how much he slowed? Requiring somebody to set the entire sector slower than before seems like a very silly rule to me.

        1. @matt90

          if all the stewards are looking for is a lift, then they should look for that at the appropriate corner

          Absolutely, but we’ve not got corner-by-corner times.

          Wasn’t it his first real flying lap anyway, meaning he was always going to improve that sector, almost no matter how much he slowed?

          He did laps on softs in Q1 and Q2 as well. Would be useful to compare the separate sectors from each lap but I haven’t got that data.

          1. No we don’t have corner by corner times- but the stewards do if the form of telemetry. I just think that that should be the deciding factor rather than an arbitrary ‘you’re sector was faster/slower than before’ rule, and sometimes he shouldn’t look at that too closely either.

            Good point about the Q1/2 times, but again, that doesn’t tell you if perhaps on those laps he made up the majority of his time through different corners. If, for example, in Q2 and Q3 he set identical sectors, but in Q2 had been supreme through the yellow flag turns and in Q3 was slower there as a result of lifting but much faster everywhere else.

            1. @matt90 I know the stewards do, I’m not disputing that, just presenting the information that we have.

            2. @keithcollantine
              Ok, I was making more of a general comment based on other people seeming to take the sector time as the most important factor in handing out a penalty. It’s good for you to present the information-it’s nice to have it available- I just meant that I personally don’t think people should read a huge amount into it sometimes.

      5. @Keith Collantine

        That is how I see it as well, nicely summed up.

        A subjective comment from me; Button is always going to say he eased off and hope he gets away with it isn’t he? Button still set personal best sector 2 didn’t he? Can anyone confirm or dispel that?

        The only way to tell for sure is to look at the telemetry, but will they / did they?

      6. @Keith-Collantine Thanks for the info Keith. Was just going to ask about that. It doesn’t look good for him to be honest.

    7. The point was made on the other article that regardless of the fact that the flashing board being after Massa’s stationary car, there could have been danger around the next corner. Who’s to say that the nearest marshal station wasn’t there and they could have been in the run-off area heading towards Massa.

      Regardless of if the yellow board was warranted in that particular location, if there is yellow that means slow down.

    8. Rejkjavicsdottir
      29th October 2011, 12:18

      Well, how long do the stewards take to say something one way or the other? It’s been a couple hours since the quali, nothing yet.

    9. to be honest, i dont really care if he gets a penalty or not.

      my issue is how he badmouthed the car so much. jheez, grow up.

      1. @timi

        how he badmouthed the car so much. jheez, grow up.

        Bit of an over-reaction to a fairly ordinary description of the problems he had in qualifying.

        1. @keithcollantine true true I went a bit OTT! It just really grates on me when he complains.

        2. With all due respect keith….I notice that you always seem to jump to defend button (protective of him) just like the beeb f1 team – thier shameful ott lovefest with jenson today was a real “pass me the sick-bag quick and makesure its a big one” moment.

          -SO when have you ever lept to the defence of Hamilton when hes constantly accused of blaming the team when he is one driver who praises the team all the time more than many others – Hes also held up his hands plenty of times and even been more harder on himself than he shouldve been, by taking full blame even when its been 50/50 – which has even been admitted by the team on more than a few occassions.

          This is my point..when lewis gets attacked for the tiniest things…the british media groups tend to either stand back, watch and stir it – or they just jump on the bandwagon & throw a few more stones

          – The media guys never seem to show as much support Lewis as to jenson who they wrap up with cottonwool and use their media power to overhype and
          influence his career just so they can see the guy they dislike or despise get beaten even if it means resorting to low tactics.
          The media always choose to pick a victim or 2 to toy with and to heap the stick at (a villain) – and they have the power to destroy people if they dont like them.

          -You will probably call me crazy keith but you know better than any of us that this is very possible & very likely. Its the typical response of the media that they are ‘horrifed’ & ‘dumbfounded’ at the accusations of being biased, that further infuriates the fans as they feel as they are being treated like idiots.

          I understand that you as a fan also…you media folk will have your favourites & personal opinions of which little hints as to the personal feelings of the writer will inevitably trickle out here and there – but seriously….the beeb especially really dont seem to care how blatent they are in showing thier preference for jenson over Lewis.

          Anyone who pretends that there is no bias shown by the beeb f1 team towards jenson either shares the same feelings as the beeb or they are very selective and choose to conveniently block it all out.

          – Just like it seems that the FIA stewards dont always show professional impartiality in the jobs they do – a few in the british media too are very guilty of the same – BTW Im not trying to say YOU are keith – you maybe or may not be…..but I do see that your articles on jenson seems like its been written by a member of the beeb f1 team who salavates at the very mention of jenson.

          Its this openess & shameless lack of professionalism and no care that forces many viewers and fans to lose alot of respect for them.

          Also keith……you should not be so scathing if a fan or many fans believe that there is something fishy going on –
          Theres definately alot of compeling evidence to support or suspect it.
          Im sure theres been plenty of times in the past where you have questioned the same sort of thing in F1 – and theres been quite compeling evidence to support such accusations.

          BTW….one another note…the track in India looks fantastic (apart from dust – but its new) – Could even be one of the best driving tracks infact.
          Whether tilke has proved his critics wrong looks promising but we wont know until tomorrow.

          1. I call it like I see it and I try to be as fair as possible. Whereas every comment you post is a tirade against Button and “the media”, and a staunch defence of Hamilton regardless of what he’s done.

            You are in no position to accuse anyone of not being impartial.

            If you don’t think I’ve ever stuck up for Hamilton, you should read what I wrote about his 2008 Spa penalty (a travesty) and note who I picked as driver of the year last year.

            Which, of course, were followed by equally tedious complaints from some commenters that I give Hamilton too much credit.

          2. The latest news I’ve heard recently is that the Justice League of America has issued a request to the FBI to investigate these conspiracies against Lewis. And in response the FBI have put their two best agents – Mulder and Scully on the case. It’s now their top priority case in their X-files unit.

            1. Jay, that will get that sorted, and filmed, which regardless of the outcome will make his manager happy I think :)

              But I fear for the quality of the inevitable F1 movie shots ….


          3. @SupaSix-1. Where is all your evidence. You have written a huge post and provided no facts at all. It is all your own feelings. You seem overly sensitive and emotional.

            I think Keith is pretty fair and unbiased.

            Where as you mate are biased because of your support of Lewis. Just look at the way you write your posts, polar opposites to Keith. You have no facts just unsubstantiated claims of this and that.

            Lewis has had a bad year so the reporting is going to reflect that. The media can’t control Lewis on track performance. Or can they, spooky.

          4. The fact is that a lot of the time, this year, when Hamilton has complained about the car, it has been about development and how it just idn’t quick enough etc.

            Button was just saying what problems he had regarding setup. He wasn’t complaining as such; and is probably more confused as to why there was such a variation in how the car reacted from the morning to the afternoon. I didn’t see him complaining about the team or blaming anyone else.

        3. @@keithcollantine i know you own this blog but i think you too readily jump to the defense of Button and try to rationalize for him a bit too much. He was complaining about the car in long sentences while driving. we all heard it.

          1. @pking008 I don’t know where this stuff about what he said in the car is coming from – it’s not mentioned in this article and I haven’t referred to it anywhere.

      2. All successful drivers are sensitive to small details in their cars’ handling. Otherwise, they would never have made it to the top of formula one.

        As a result, they all seem to be whinging now and then. Hamilton will often complain mid-race that his car doesn’t feel right. I remember a few comments from Alonso last year along the same lines.

        But Jenson needs to think through these small details, turn them around in his head until he knows exactly what he didn’t like about the McLaren’s handling, so he can help the team address it before and during the race tomorrow. He’s just doing his best.

      3. Button does come out of a lot of qualifying sessions with the line – “the car felt great in the morning, but couldn’t find any grip in qualifying”.

        I think where this explanation can grate a bit is that it can be taken as putting the blame on the car, rather than himself. It annoys me too, from time to time.

        1. @Simon999 That’s the word grate. I love Jenson but even I notice these same comments over and again. I don’t think he realises how it comes across.

          1. Perhaps because even if it sounds annoying to us, it is actually true and that he is- as he should- making the team aware of the areas where he feels the car is lacking so a solution can be found. I think if he ‘realised how it comes across’ and stopped making those comments as a result, he would be poorer at setting up and developing cars.

            1. I think it’s the way he says it, not what he says. He does the same in post-qualifying interviews, which aren’t for the benefit of car setup.

    10. cant believe karta got a pen for HRT for blocking michael. If they were both on flying laps then its tough that michael got held up. Thats what driver trackers are for so teams can plan ahead.

      The slower drivers shouldnt have to jump out the way if they are on fast laps. They have their own tyre allocation to keep in mind to.

      1. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t on a flying lap- I know the HRT is slow, but not that slow.

        1. @matt90 Yea, Karthikeyan didn’t really look to be setting the track on fire. I don’t think he knew where to put the car to be honest.

          1. bearing in mind michael’s time was ok even with being held up the HRT cant of been going that slow

    11. He didnt back off

      1. and you know that for sure how?

        have you seen his telemetry data?

    12. I really hate how drivers only back off enough not to be penalised. When there’s a car crashing, spinning or when there are marshalls near the track, drivers shouldn’t think about losing as little time as possible – they should be worrying about safety.

      It’s the same as drivers on normal roads worrying more about the police and not getting a fine rather than worrying about safety of everyone involved.

      I don’t know if there’s anything in the rules FIA can change to make this better, but it should be looked into. Safety should always be the priority.

      1. 100% Correct.

      2. +1. Maybe if time was added for any disruptions drivers wouldn’t have to compromise safety. Qualifying is a race against the clock.

      3. lol, you’re so naive…..

    13. Huh. It’s been four hours since qualifying, and there’s been no word – even though the stewards have given others (Karthikeyan) penalties.

      1. Its on the BBC, no penalty for Button.

        1. quite right too….

    14. Have they made a decision about Timo Glock? He was outside the 107% rule wasn’t he?

    15. Oh, and i just wanted to say i am utterly disgusted at Coulthard/Brundle saying that the yellow flashing light should have actually been a green one. What are you two smoking?

      The inncodent had only JUST happend (like, 2-3 seconds before Button arrived at the Yellows), and right next to the Lights at that. Firstly there should never be green flags that close to an inncodent, and secondly it usually take sometime for the area to be considered safe for them to put out greens. Not WITHIN SECONDS of the car ploughing off the track.

      This for me just highlighted their desire to completly exonerate Button from any sort of wrong doing.

      1. It was past the incident- there should be yellows before the corner and greens after to show that it is fine to drive again.

        1. Its likely the yellow sector was also been shown at the next marshall post because thats where tractor to recover Massas car was located.

          1. That’s a good point, although with the end of the sessions seconds away I doubt it was actually the case that they intentionally put yellows there for that purpose- it would be better to wait half a minute.

            1. it’s automated

    16. The yellow light was well past the incident, the marshals did get it wrong, it should definitely have been green. It sounded from the onboard footage that there was a momentary lift from button as he exited the corner Massa went off on. I don’t think he should be penalised.

    17. I guess the yellow was been waved past the accident because maybe that was where the marshall’s were coming from that were going to recover Massa’s car.

      They don’t just put the yellow out where the car is, Its also put out where marshalls & recovery vehicles are going to be running to recover the car.

    18. New track, same old incompetent stewarding – business as usual then…

    19. @Keith Last week we had a discussion about the way you react on posts concerning certain drivers and you asked if I had examples (evidence). This is such an example where you tend to ‘defend’ driver X when someone posts something ‘negative’ about the driver, whereas you react supportive on negative reactions about driver Y. A bit cryptic, although you’ll understand my point.

    20. Funniest thread I ever read.

      Button for the win tomorrow ;)

      1. +1!!! Someone with sense at last.

    21. Well done Jens, you got away with it…. Makes a nice change for a Brit Team/Driver to get the ‘rub of the green’ for once ;)

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