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Jenson Button and Mark Webber believe that safety measures around Monaco's chicane need to be improved, following Sergio Perez's heavy impact with the barrier during qualifying.
Perez was conscious and talking after the accident, but was taken to a nearby hospital after his Sauber hit the guardrail on the right side of the circuit before colliding with another barrier at the exit of the chicane. He was examined and found to have suffered only minor injuries (see separate story).
Button suffered a near-identical accident at the same corner in 2003 and was unable to race due to injury. While he admitted that safety measures have been improved since then – and especially since the accident that put Karl Wendlinger in a coma in 1994 – he believes there is still more than can be done.
"I think the cars have improved dramatically with safety since Karl Wendlinger's accident and the barrier has been moved back since my accident," said the McLaren driver. "But there are some areas – and this is the main one – where we want it to be safer so that we can come here and enjoy the racing. It is a tricky corner and it's difficult to know what it [the solution] is – but I think we need to look further on what we can do with the run-off there."
"Motor racing is dangerous and it says it on the passes, [but] there is always more we can do. We need to keep tweaking some areas, sit down and really improve for the future."
Button said that F1 cars have a tendency to veer right under braking for the chicane due to the undulations of the track, and that the problem is exacerbated by cars with exhaust-blown diffusers running on low fuel loads, such as in the latter stages of qualifying. However, he commended a decision to remove "speed humps" from the run-off area next to the chicane, and said that this move almost certainly prevented a much more serious crash.
"It is when you first hit the brakes [that you feel it], added Button. "The rear goes very light for some reason, and it seems to be more of an issue this year because of the blown diffuser systems that a lot [of the cars] have. The rear goes very light and at that point you become a passenger, it pitches you into [the] right hand side and you lose braking ability as you lose two wheels.
"I am happy [FIA technical delegate] Charlie [Whiting] made right call in taking speed humps out [of the run-off area next to the chicane] after Nico's accident, because if [they were] there, it would have been even worse."
Red Bull driver Webber echoed Button's feelings and said that Formula 1 can learn from Perez's escape.
"It has always been bumpy there under the brakes and every year the cars we have are a bit different aerodynamically," Webber said. "And in terms of safety, it's probably an area we need to look at and improve on, especially after [accidents there for] JB [Button] and also Karl Wendlinger in the mid-1990s. There is a bump there, but it is just that if you have a problem with the rear, the chance to recover is very low. We saw Vitaly [Petrov] and he went straight down [the escape road]. We were also lucky they pulled the sleeping policeman up after this morning because he [Perez] could have had a nastier accident.
"We need to keep learning and work hard with the FIA with the drivers and help out the guys – we are the ones in the cockpit, so it's nice to improve if we can."
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• All this and much more!
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