SHANGHAI (Reuters) - McLaren’s Jenson Button has questioned why Chinese Grand Prix qualifying was not halted when a circuit car was parked in what he considered to be a dangerous position near the pitlane entrance.
“There’s a car parked at the entrance to the pits, if we go off we’re going to hit it,” the Briton told his team over the radio during Saturday’s session.
Button, the 2009 world champion and Formula One’s most experienced active driver with 286 starts under his belt, called it the “most dangerous part” of the opening 18-minute phase of qualifying.
It came shortly after the session had resumed following a halt prompted by a crash for Manor’s German rookie Pascal Wehrlein.
The parked vehicle was soon moved but Button contrasted that incident with the red flag waved to halt the session for the second time when Nico Hulkenberg parked his Force India at the side of the track after its front-left wheel came off.
“I was surprised when we had a red flag at the end of the session for the Force India,” Button said.
“It pulled off and there was an opening for the car to be pulled back into. But then we had the car parked in the pit entry which was directly in the way of us and there was no red flag for that.”
“Wouldn’t have been my call,” added the driver, who also serves as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
Button set the 13th-fastest time in qualifying but will start 12th in Sunday’s race behind team-mate Fernando Alonso after Hulkenberg was handed a three-place grid drop for the unsecured wheel.
Editing by Alan Baldwin