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Button: High downforce for starters in Baku

16 Jun 2016

McLaren’s Jenson Button expects much of the grid to take a cautious approach to set-up in Friday’s opening practice for the 2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe, as drivers get to know the all-new Baku City Circuit.

“Many teams will for sure chose a high downforce level in the practice, just to get used to the circuit and get the confidence up,” said Button in Azerbaijan. “Then you will find out what is correct and maybe remove downforce over the course of the weekend.”

The Baku track - expected to be the fastest street circuit on the F1 calendar - certainly presents an engineering dilemma, with its combination of high-speed straights and tight twisty sections - and it’s not one Button expects to suit his Honda-powered machine.

“In the end it has a lot to do with where the strength of your car is,” added the former champion. “Red Bull have mentioned that they might lose 1.2 seconds [on the main straight], which I don’t think will be the case with them - but, for sure, for us it would probably be even more than them.

“There is nothing you can do about this. You have to push the throttle down as much as you can and duck down. At the end of the day it might not be as bad as people think, but for sure we will find out.

“We were as good in Canada as we were in Monaco, which we didn’t expect. It is a slightly longer straight here and we have to figure out what we can do about it. For sure the reality check will be tomorrow in the first practice session.”

Despite his caution regarding McLaren’s prospects of a tough weekend, Button insisted he was eager to sample what looks set to be among the most exciting venues of the F1 season.

“I am really looking forward to driving the circuit,” he concluded. “It’ always great to come to a new venue!”

Button heads into the Europe weekend 16th in the driver standings on five points, four places and 13 points behind team mate Fernando Alonso.