McLaren driver Jenson Button’s day ended early in the Korean Grand Prix as Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi, who finished ont he podium two weeks ago in Japan, clouted Nico Rosberg and caromed into Button’s front right wheel ending the Brits race. Kobayashi was handed a drive-through penalty for his part int he incident which Buttons says was not enough. Kobayashi’s teammate, Sergio Perez, also force Button wide as the Mexican out-braked himself into turn 1 creating a dicey situation.

Button immediately radioed his race was done and called Kobayashi and “idiot” then later told the press:

“It seems both Sauber drivers think the first lap of the race is the only lap,” Button said.

“[They] have got a great car underneath them and could score such great points here if they just kept their heads together. I don’t know what they were doing.

“I got a really good start and passed Michael and was alongside Nico when Perez came from nowhere, chucked it up the inside, outbraked himself and hit the car in front.

“I had to run wide and push Nico off the circuit to stop an incident, so then Nico and I had a drag race down the back straights, Saubers all over the back of us.

“Basically I braked very, very late as I’m sure Nico did, and then suddenly got a big bang on the right hand side and Kamui came flying past. I don’t know how he hit two of us, which was pretty special.

“It’s very poor driving standards, considering this is the pinnacle of motorsport. It’s not just a slight misjudgement, its massive.

“There is so much opportunity here as well with way tyres are working and the DRS zone. It’s a great circuit for overtaking, which is why it so surprising people are driving like that.”

If Perez was trying to impress his new teammate for 2013 at McLaren, this wasn’t the way to do it. The DNF for button was a big blow for the team who struggled to get Lewis Hamilton on pace with what appears to be a dodgy set-up for the car on Sunday and this allowed Ferrari to overtake the Woking-based team in the Constructor’s Championship for 2012.

As for Kobayashi’s role in the incident, he has taken responsibility for his actions telling the press:

“This is a race to forget,” said Kobayashi. “Initially I had a good start but then we were four cars side by side approaching Turn 3. I had Nico to the right and Jenson and Sergio on my left hand side.

“Someone hit my rear tyre and then it was impossible to control the car, but I had to brake at some point. I didn’t manage to avoid the accident, and I feel very sorry for ruining someone else’s race, and certainly this was not my intention.

“It was just a very difficult moment and I had nowhere to go but I think it was my mistake.”

All eyes were on Lotus F1’s Romain Grosjean who has been labeled as the “first-lap nutcase” by Red Bull’s MArk Webber but the Frenchman made a tidy start and finished a terrific race with Kobayahsi now presenting himself as an over-eager first-lap opportunist.


An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • nofahz

    I’m going to look at this from the bright side, at least they spared me from having to watch Button and Rosberg drive to another mediocre finish

  • Tim

    Really Jenson? You never made a bone headed move in your first few years in F1? Please . . . Give me a break. If someone did hit Kobi’s rear tire and he couldn’t control his car . . . at least there as an excuse. Everyone’s gonna make a mistake every now and then.

  • steven

    Maybe he’s starting to realize that next season its up to him to make the car look good, Jenson.cracking under pressure already?

  • Patrick

    It is a bit hypocritical of Button IMHO.

    To have admirably taken the high road over HAM’s twitter rant to th extent that he did, it seems a little counter productive for him to seem to be whining (qualify: seem to be.)

    Alas, that these things happen. And to alienate himself from Perez seems a bit rough. Dude is only 22 and has massive potential. What happened in Korean GP sucked for JB but having emerged as the more mature Macca driver, I’d hope that he might see a bigger picture besides his own and maybe give Perez some support. Although I’m very removed from the sport and rather ignorant. Only offering my opinion with respect :)

  • Luigi

    I’ve been saying this for quite a while: Sauber drivers are not up to their car. They should have been performing much better… Everybody is saying a lot about Perez, but in my humble opinion both himself and Kobayashi should have been delivering more given the car they have.

    That’s my two cents regardless of today’s incident.

    • Luigi

      Anybody with me? NC?

      • Chris

        I think you are right. Sauber have a competitive car this season. Both drivers have had some excellent performances, but make mistakes under pressure and lack consistency. I think this comes down to experience. Its the same in MotoGP, but a lot more obvious as the consequences are higher both in terms of recovering to finish the race, and with injury potential. Unfortunately they need to drive to get experience. Chicken & Egg.

  • Chris

    Kobi made some comment on the UK BBC coverage about wanting to brake earlier but holding out waiting for the car in front to brake first, and being surprised the cars in front were braking so deep. He really ought to be picking his own braking points. Not an impressive display from him this week, and in complete contrast to last weeks race.

  • Chris

    At 01:49.10 on BBC iPlayer coverage, talking to Lee McKenzie –
    “We were fighting for positioning. It was pretty difficult not to hit the brake. And I was waiting for someone to brake, but someone I think braked really hard.” – Seems Kobi knew he should have started braking sooner yet didn’t follow his instinct on this occasion.

  • Zoran

    Maybe Kobayashi crashing into Button is karma getting back to Button for stealing Sato’s seat at Honda 2006. Button, has always been a mediocre driver who can only do well in the best equipment. He languished for years at teams that were solid midfield to front runners and never put together anything close to as exciting as Kobayashi’s debut drives at Toyota in 2009. Kobayashi deserves to be in a top three team and he will probably have to fight to stay at Sauber. Button should have been drumed out of F1 for not honering his Williams contract, years ago.