Jenson Button’s second farewell to Formula 1 ended in the same fashion as his first when he was forced to retire from Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix following a bizarre clash with Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein.
Button started from the pit lane in Monaco after an engine penalty, and spent the majority of his race staring at Wehrlein’s diffuser after both opted to pit on the opening lap.
Growing increasingly frustrated with his “painful” race, Button tried to lunge down the inside of Wehrlein at Portier, one of the tighest points on the circuit, on Lap 57.
The contact tipped Wehrlein’s car into the air before coming to rest on its side up against the wall at Portier. While the German driver escaped from the car unharmed, he was not able to get out until the marshals had righted the car.
“The most important thing is that Pascal is OK. It’s unusual to see a car go on its side,” Button told NBCSN after the race.
“I thought I was well alongside him when we got to the corner and then I noticed he hadn’t seen me. I tried to back out but it was too late.
“The important thing is that he got out OK. I saw him a minute ago and he’s obviously a little bit shaken, but he’s fine. It was a slow speed accident but you never know with tire barriers when a car tips.
“Up to that point it was pretty tough. The pace was good when I had clear air, but none of it really matters.
“Yesterday was a great day, and I’ll remember yesterday, that’s the main thing.”
Despite being cleared by the medical crew in Monaco, Wehrlein confirmed after the clash that he will require another check in the coming days for fear of aggravating his pre-season injury.
“I am feeling OK after the accident. I could get out of the car by myself and went for the usual medical examination,” Wehrlein said.
“As my head touched the barriers, it will be decided within the coming days if I need another medical investigation, also because of the previous thoracic vertebra injury.
“I am very upset as this is a result of an unnecessary overtaking maneuver, bearing in mind that Jenson and I were both on a similar strategy with the pit stop in the first lap, far off from points.
“An annoying incident which should not have happened.”
The stewards sided with Wehrlein and deemed Button to be at fault, handing the Briton a three-place grid penalty for his next F1 race – a sanction he is highly unlikely to ever serve.