Button: Ballsy drivers still need run-off areas

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McLaren-Honda star Jenson Button says run-off areas are ‘necessary’ at Formula One tracks, no matter how brave drivers are.

Modern F1 venues are sometimes criticised for being too forgiving, as wide tarmac run-off areas allow pilots to rejoin the action fairly easily after running wide or making a mistake.

Button was outspoken in his criticism of F1’s latest addition to the calendar - Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit - saying it was “like we have gone backwards” in terms of safety standards.

This prompted a strong reply from triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, who claimed fellow racers “moan so much” and “want to take all the character and life out of these tracks”.

“As drivers, however strong, or as big we think our balls are, we need run-offs areas because it is necessary,” Button is quoted as saying by Crash.net. “This is a dangerous sport and we all understand it is a dangerous sport, but there are unnecessary risks in certain places.

“It is all down to us doing a better job, getting close to the front and making the racing better because the sport is not in a bad place. But there is still a lot of room for improvement.”

Button, who serves as one of the directors in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), admits F1 has to walk a fine line between providing drivers with exciting venues all the while ensuring their safety.

“We need circuits that are good for racing,” the 2009 world champion added, “We need people challenging, not just one team, but many teams, challenging for wins. We need circuits that really show the strengths of F1 cars, high-speed corners….

“We need circuits that suit an F1 car, [circuits] that you can race on, that you can fight on, that you can overtake on, that you can come back on... That is what people love.

“People love seeing fighting - when you look at Barcelona, you had four cars from two different teams [Red Bull and Ferrari] fighting for the win, and people probably turned on to watch that race more than any other this year because of that.”

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