Button given SMP safety assurances after Isaakyan flip

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Button given SMP safety assurances after Isaakyan flip
Jamie Klein
By: Jamie Klein
Co-author: Oleg Karpov
May 25, 2018, 1:36 PM

Ex-Formula 1 champion Jenson Button has revealed he received assurances from SMP Racing about the safety of its LMP1 car prior to testing it at Magny-Cours.

Button's first run in the BR Engineering BR1-AER at the former French Grand Prix venue followed the FIA World Endurance Championship season opener at Spa, where Matevos Isaakyan suffered a major airborne crash.

Video footage of the incident showed Isaakyan's #17 BR1 lifted off the ground following another car over the top of Eau Rouge, flipping end-over-end multiple times before hitting the barriers and coming to rest.

Button, who will make his WEC debut in next month's Le Mans 24 Hours sharing SMP's #11 car with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, said a meeting beforehand reassured him of the car's safety.

He added that changes will be made to the car for Le Mans, although he tested the car in the exact same specification in which it raced at Spa.

"I don't think any experienced driver would get in the car if he wasn't happy with its safety," Button told Motorsport.com.

"I had a good meeting with the team to discuss what happened and what are the chances of it happening again. I believe in the team, and I trust in the team's comments and also in Dallara's.

"They've changed the car for Le Mans, which is great. I don't think you have the same situation at Le Mans as you have at Eau Rouge, but still there are some brows, some hills, but they've changed the car to help that.

"And when I drove in Magny-Cours, you're driving on your own, you never going to have the issues of the car taking off, you're not following a car, you don't have the brow of the hill, so I was not worried at all.

"I am not worried going into Le Mans as well, I completely trust in the work they've done in the wind tunnel and the safety precautions that they've taken."

High-speed grip a "shock"

Button, who is combining his WEC campaign with his Honda Super GT commitments, said the thing that surprised him most about the BR1 during his initial test was its grip in high-speed corners, describing it as the "opposite" to what he expected.

"The biggest shock was the grip in high speed corners," added Button. "I drive in Super GT, which has a lot of downforce and a lot of mechanical grip, because you have the tyre war there.

"I expected the LMP1 to be quicker in a straight line, but slow in high-speed corners, but it was the opposite.

"Straight line [speed] was very similar to Super GT, but the high-speed corners surprised me, because there was so much grip there.

"And that was the Le Mans [aero] package that we were running around Magny-Cours, so it shouldn't be a lot of grip, but the car felt great.

"A few tweaks are needed, but not high-speed; it is more braking and traction. But I think that we can solve those issues very quickly at Le Mans."

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About this article

Series WEC
Drivers Jenson Button Shop Now
Teams SMP Racing
Author Jamie Klein
Article type Interview