Button say F1 needs to be more like NASCAR?
Reigning world driving champ Jenson Button thinks that Formula One can learn a lot from NASCAR — mostly on how to treat its fans.
Button — who was in Toronto on Tuesday to promote the Canadian Grand Prix and his sponsor Hugo Boss — said that F-1 has treated its fans poorly for too long.
The 30-year-old Briton said that coming back to North America and Montreal after a one-year absence should provide race bosses with the opportunity to connect with F-1’s fan base in a way that hadn’t done before.
That is where NASCAR has succeeded far beyond Bernie Ecclestone’s global series.
“In North America fans love getting involved with their drivers,” Button said.
NASCAR makes that happen at their events. Button said F-1 must make its drivers that accessible for the fans.
“In past in F-1 fans haven’t been able to do that,” he said. “But I think things are changing. And we need to do that. We need to get the fans involved because we wouldn’t be racing if it wasn’t for the fans.”
Button said the promoters of the Canadian GP have already started to make moves to allow that to happen.
“This weekend we are having an (autograph) session; we’ll be spending more time with the fans,” he said.
This is something that just hasn’t happened in the past and Button thinks it is the way of the future if F-1 wants to compete with NASCAR.
“We have got top pay more attention to those people who have made it possible for us to get to the position we are in,” Button said.
He said that Montreal also does a terrific job in making the whole Grand Prix experience special.
“To me, Montreal is a great race because it’s a race where the city just sort of stops for the Grand Prix weekend,” Button said.
“We need more of that in Formula 1.”
As for Button someday moving to the North American stock car series, it is something that is in the back of his mind, especially after watching Juan Pablo Montoya having some NASCAR success.
“Maybe someday I’ll try to get into that also,” he said.
But for now Button said he’s concentrating on helping his McLaren team beat rival Red Bull for the drivers and constructors championships. Going into Montreal, Button is five points back of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren is just a single point up on the Austrian team in the constructors’ battle.
He thinks Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is the perfect place for McLaren to pull further ahead.
“It’s a circuit that you need sufficient downforce,” Button said. “There aren’t any quick corners around Montreal which is where the Red Bull is very strong.
“This is a circuit where we can fight them.”
Button said that the most recent Grand Prix — at Istanbul — showed that the battle between McLaren and Red Bull appears to have energized the sport.
“The last few races have been fantastic, with the two Red Bull drivers and the two McLaren drivers fighting,” Button said. “I’m happy that (McLaren) has made the leap to be competitive with them.” TorontoSun