Jenson Button has promised Sebastian Vettel he will not go gunning for the newly-crowned two-time Formula 1 world champion if there is a repeat of their Suzuka showdown.
Button was initially angered by Vettel’s aggressive tactics at the start of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix when the German swerved over to the Briton’s line, forcing him onto the grass.
Following the race Button confronted Vettel and asked him whether that was his approach to racing in the future, suggesting he would adopt similar tactics if that were the case.
Button, however, has since softened his stance, realising there would be no point in fighting fire with fire as it would only end in calamity.
“You still have to be intelligent about the way you go racing,” said Button.
“If you know he is not going to back out and he is going to push you on the grass, you are not going to do anything.
“If I hadn’t have backed off, and I had to completely lift off the throttle, then we would have both ended up in the wall.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a quarter of the way up the inside, the whole car crashes when you touch.”
Within seconds of the incident, Button jumped on the team radio and made his anger plain as he said: “He’s gotta get a penalty for that I think, he’s gotta get a penalty for that.”
Although the stewards called an investigation, they opted to impose no penalty on Vettel who went on to finish third behind Button, enough to make him the youngest back-to-back and double champion in the sport’s history.
Button appreciates now his reaction was in the heat of the moment, adding: “I was a little bit surprised at what he did, but when I said on the radio he should get a penalty, emotions were running high.
“It’s not down to me, it’s down to the stewards. They have all the angles and they didn’t think it was necessary to get a penalty, so I agree with them.”
Qualification for this weekend’s race started in the wet yesterday, with both 90-minute practice sessions rain dominated. The McLarens were blindingly quick as Hamilton edged Button by a tenth of a second, leaving Vettel 1.8 seconds adrift in third.
Given McLaren’s upturn in form, Red Bull’s run of 16 consecutive poles stretching back to the tail end of last season is under threat.
“It would be nice to knock Red Bull off pole. It has been pretty difficult all year, so we’ll give it a go,” added Button.
“Final practice is going to be a very important session because no one has a clue as to what the cars are going to be like on high or low fuel and dry tyres.
“It’s going to be a tricky one.”