SMOKEY SINGAPORE: McLaren-Honda's Jenson Button is worried about the health dangers ahead of the Singapore GP, as the region battles with heavy smoke from a nearby fire. Image: AFP / Andrej Isakovic
Singapore - For Jenson Button, languishing near the bottom of the F1 championship standings, the prospect of a tropical storm during the 2015 Singapore GP would come as a rare and welcome relief.
Like nearly everyone else, the McLaren driver hopes a heavy downpour will clear the dense haze that has blanketed the tiny Southeast Asian state, a result of farmers in neighbouring Indonesia burning forests.
Worry over breathing in smoke while driving
Button does not think the smoke presents any particular safety issues, saying the visibility was good enough for drivers while medical helicopters were not needed in Singapore because the hospitals were so close to the track.
But he is worried about the health dangers of breathing in smoke while driving.
He told Reuters on Wednesday (September 16), hours after flying in from the Thai resort of Phuket where had been acclimatising: "It's very difficult walking around in the streets. You can smell the smoke but when you're pushing yourself to the maximum in the car and you're having to take big gulps of air...
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"That's a big issue but hopefully it's going to clear a little bit because it could be a health issue, from what I've read.
"My wife is actually out now buying face masks, which she wears all the time. She's Japanese so she always wears them on the flight... but I'm not sure they'll fit over my crash helmet so that might be a bit of an issue."
Rain has traditionally been unwelcome at the Singapore Grand Prix, which was first held in 2008.
Button, whose team have struggled this season, said he would welcome it because it would enhance his prospects and provide a unique spectacle.
Button said: "It's crazy driving an F1 car in the wet, it's crazy in the dry, especially at a circuit like Singapore, so the wet does make it very difficult but I think the fans (watching on TV) love it and even the people that are watching it here."
"They're going to get wet but I think they'll love the experience of watching Formula One cars at night in the rain with brake discs and calipers from the heat and also the flames out of the exhaust
"I think it'll really add something to it if you have the spray as well. I think it could be a great spectacle. It's going to happen one day here. We're going to have a wet race."