Full grandstands are more important than a challenging racetrack for the drivers — that’s the view of 2009 World Champion Jenson Button, who hopes tomorrow’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix will be a hit with the locals.
“A Formula One race isn’t just a television event,” says Button. “It’s got to be an event in itself and that means having full grandstands. That’s more important than having a great circuit layout.
“You want people to get behind a new race and for there to be a great atmosphere. You want there to be cheering. I have no doubt that the Indian people will love F1 when they start to understand the sport.”
Button has never previously been to the Indian subcontinent and he’s looking forward to his visit. Prior to the race he took time out for a bit of sightseeing around New Delhi.
“I love experiencing new cultures,” he says, “and India is definitely interesting. Everyone involved in F1 is very lucky to do a job that allows them to visit so many different countries. We might like some places more than others, but every race is an experience.”
As for the brand new Buddh International Circuit, Button will reserve judgement until he’s driven it this weekend.
“I’ve done a bit of set-up work on the simulator in Woking,” said Button, “and the track seems pretty interesting. It’s a bit up and down, and quite slow, to begin with and then fast for the rest of the lap.
“There’s a very challenging double-apex right-hander at the back of the circuit, which I’m looking forward to experiencing. I love seeing the scenery go past quickly and I like high-speed corners. There’s so much lateral G-force through them that it’s hard to find the limit of the car, but that’s a challenge all of the drivers enjoy.”
Meanwhile, Button’s McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, along with Sauber's Sergio Perez, was given a three-place grid penalty following yesterday's first practice session at the Buddh International Circuit as the long arm of the stewards again hit the 26-year-old hard.
Hamilton willingly took full responsibility for ignoring double waved yellow flags at a time when Pastor Maldonado's Williams was being recovered following a spin.