The Brit was reacting to a question in the FIA driver press conference centered around the new tyre rulings for Free Practice One should a team use a rookie driver. Pirelli will give out a “free” set of tyres to teams fielding a rookie driver in the first 90 minute practice session of the race weekend, something Button thinks McLaren will not go ahead with.
Discussing the idea he said “I don’t think you’ll see many of the big teams having a third driver drive the car on Friday but I think it’s a good idea to have extra sets for your drivers, yes.”
He went on to discuss the difficulties faced by young drivers to get Formula 1 experience under their belts before they are promoted to the series full-time. Button himself completed a number of tests in Formula 1 machinery before he made his debut with Williams in 2000, but now teams are more restrictive on spending money and gone are the days where teams tested individually. The only real opportunity for young drivers to gain F1 experience currently is through straight line testing, FP1 sessions or the Young Driver Test at the end of the season.
The Brit said “I think it’s very difficult for young drivers to have mileage in a Formula One car. They need to bring a lot of money, it seems, to have the opportunity, but now that they have extra tyres, it could actually be useful for the middle of the grid teams and lower to have a third driver for more mileage, more information. There are quite a few test drivers who will sit around and watch Friday, Saturday, Sunday every other weekend. They don’t get to drive the car, so I think it’s good for them and for the future of the sport it’s important that youngsters are actually getting the chance to drive a F1 car and to experience a Grand Prix weekend properly rather than just watching what happens.”
Jean-Eric Vergne, who was also in the FIA drivers press conference, agreed and said “It would have been good when I remember my case a year ago. I was pretty happy to get some miles on the Friday in the Toro Rosso. I think it’s really good experience, as Jenson just said.”
The tyre ruling has yet to be certified by the FIA but the move would help to improve the rather dull Friday Practice sessions, as teams battle to save sets of tyres. Last time out in China was a good example, where even in qualifying cars were limited to one run only and fans were treated to silence out on track for over half the sessions.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic