LONDON: BAR’s Jenson Button (pic) was quickest in testing at Le Castellet in southern France on Wednesday on his first day back behind the wheel after seeing an eye specialist.
Button went to London’s Moorfields eye hospital on Monday as a precaution after some carbon brake dust irritated his eye during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Briton, third in the championship after finishing every race in the points including three podiums, took over from BAR test driver Anthony Davidson and completed more than a full grand prix distance.
His best time of 1:32.954 compared to the second quickest lap set by Williams’ Brazilian test driver Antonio Pizzonia in 1:33.130.
Button will be a strong candidate for a podium finish in next week’s Monaco Grand Prix, with team boss David Richards tipping the 24-year-old as the man who could end Michael Schumacher’s winning streak.
Ferrari’s world champion has won the first five grands prix, equalling Formula One’s best start to a season, but Button was very fast in the principality last year before crashing in practice and missing the race.
Meanwhile, McLaren’s David Coulthard has called for a re-think on rules that allow F1’s bottom six teams to run a third car on Fridays at grand prix weekends.
The Scot says the system should be re-evaluated after each race to prevent teams like high-flying BAR from gaining a significant performance advantage.
“That rule shouldn’t be fixed for the entire year,” he told British weekly Motorsport News on Wednesday. “BAR has established itself as the second or third best team but it can still run a third car all year.
“We can’t do much running on Fridays any more – but we’re sitting watching guys who are really competitive doing three or four times as many laps as us.”
BAR are allowed to run a third car, driven by Davidson, after finishing last season fifth overall.
The Honda-powered team are third in the championship and have been the revelation of the season so far, with Button taking three podiums in five races and pole position at the San Marino Grand Prix.
Struggling McLaren have scored only five points – three fewer than BAR’s Takuma Sato – with last season’s championship runner-up Kimi Raikkonen having just one to his credit. – Reuters