Defending World Champion Jenson Button will urge the FIA Stewards – who include 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell on its panel – to take a firm stance on any drivers trying to gain an advantage by running off-circuit at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The daunting Eau Rouge corner is expected to pose a stern test for drivers running on full tanks, and with an asphalt run-off now built at the bend, he fears that drivers may try to gain an advantage by running off the circuit.
Last year’s race featured Kimi Räikkönen gaining a handful of places on the opening lap during the run down to Eau Rouge by deliberately running wide at the La Source hairpin and using the run-off at its exit to gain track positions. This no doubt helped the Finn gain the necessary places to overtake race leader Giancarlo Fisichella after the Safety Car restart and to take his final race win of his F1 career.
”I think we need to make sure that people know where the edge of the circuit is,” Button told reporters on Thursday. “You’re going to get a lot of people trying to go round the circuit, and a lot of people going straight, thinking they’re not going to get noticed – and it’s a massive difference and a massive benefit.
“I think we need to make that clear with [FIA race director] Charlie [Whiting] beforehand – which I will do.”
The Briton added that tackling the daunting sweeps and elevation changes of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on a full tank of fuel would pose a tough challenge for the 24-car grid.
“It’s pretty manic here on the first lap anyway. It starts wide and it really narrows up for [La Source]. Then Eau Rouge, side by side through there on 150 kilos, hitting the floor… it’s going to be pretty crazy. It will be a buzz. You’ll have to have big balls.
“At least there’s a big run-off on the exit if you’re side by side and have to take avoiding action.”