Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Button's Blind Fury as Officials Ignore Fears over Twilight Race; Champion Leads the Drivers' Protests over 'Dangerous' Start Time for This Weekend's Grand Prix in Melbourne

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Button's Blind Fury as Officials Ignore Fears over Twilight Race; Champion Leads the Drivers' Protests over 'Dangerous' Start Time for This Weekend's Grand Prix in Melbourne

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

JENSON BUTTON today led protests against the twilight start time for the Australian Grand Prix, which could result in drivers racing blind towards a setting sun.

The world champion fears it could become "dangerous" if a clear sky over Melbourne's Albert Park circuit allows the sun to shine straight into drivers' eyes on Sunday.

Drivers complained of the glare during the first twilight race there last year and both Button and Jarno Trulli, a member of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), are angered that the sport's chiefs have failed to react to warnings.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone moved the start from early afternoon to 5pm local time last year to generate bigger television audiences in Europe -- it will be 7am in the United Kingdom when the race gets under way.

Last March, Button (right) wore a tinted visor to combat the effects of a setting sun to claim a sensational debut victory for the new Brawn team but he is unhappy that the drivers face similar problems this year.

Now partnering Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, Button said: "It sounds petty but it's not. It can be dangerous if you've got the sun in your eyes and you can't see where you're going."

Renault's Robert Kubica claimed: "Last year it was extremely dangerous for the last 20 laps. Going through the last corner was like going through a blind place, it was impossible to see.

"It's not nice to go in a Formula One car through a corner where it's really very difficult to see anything.

"To be honest, I am surprised to see it was this time again."

Trulli, leading the revived Lotus team, said: "We raised our concern last year but apparently nothing has changed. There is very little you can do on the safety side apart from starting the race an hour before.

"We have given our opinion and then the FIA or whoever has decided to keep a twilight race at that time."

Red Bull's home hero Mark Webber, another leading member of the GPDA, said: "If you were picking the best time to have a high-speed sporting motorrace event, obviously it's not when the sun is at eye level with us. …

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