Button gets the bird

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jenson Button was lucky to escape unhurt after he almost collided with a bird in a 160mph incident in South Africa.

Jenson Button was lucky to escape unhurt after he almost collided with a bird in a 160mph incident in South Africa.

The bird was killed after smashing into the air-box on the Williams BMW just above Button's head during testing yesterday at the Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg.

"Jenson can laugh about it now, but at the time it was frightening," said Button's father, John, today. "It could have been a lot more serious."

"Jenson's helmet looked as though someone had thrown a bottle of tomato sauce over it.

"All that was left of the bird was its legs, but they were about seven inches long so it must have been a fair size.

"It's lucky for Jenson that he sits so low down in the car. He is okay and was quite cool about it.

"I was listening on the radio and he just said 'I've just hit a bird' and asked whether he should bring the car back in for it to be checked."

Button could have suffered serious injury had he taken the full impact of the collision with the bird.

The Williams team, meanwhile, are confident the 20-year-old will be granted a super licence to make his debut in Australia on March 12.

Max Mosley, president of the world's governing body, FIA, said yesterday that Button had to complete 300km at race speed over two consecutive days and prove to a Formula One commission he was not a danger to others.

The Frome-born driver, who will earn £350,000 this season, completed the required distance in the last two days of the test and the granting of a licence looks a formality.

"The last two days at Kyalami offered us considerable track time which allowed Jenson to complete over 91 laps," said Williams' media manager Nav Sidhu. "We now look forward to pursuing his application for a super licence."

Button has another test session in Jerez, Spain, next week before partnering Ralf Schumacher in Australia when he will become Britain's youngest ever Formula One driver.

"I am beginning to feel more at ease with the FW22," said Button after the test in South Africa which was dogged by the worst weather seen in the Republic in over a decade.

"Apart from the incident with the stray bird, yesterday's progress certainly helped end a difficult week on a high."

Comments