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Button Interested in Long-Term Prototype Future

Former F1 star Jenson Button has eyes on longer-term future in prototype racing…

Photo: MPS Agency

Jenson Button says he’s interested in the new set of top-level prototype regulations and the prospects of additional manufacturers joining the FIA World Endurance Championship in the future.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion, who is gearing up for his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut this weekend with SMP Racing, told Sportscar365 that his current LMP1 role with the privateer Russian outfit would prepare him for any potential drives under the new 2020-21 regs.

The FIA will release details of the rulebook at Le Mans on Friday, but an initial release has confirmed a hypercar-styled formula that’s aimed to reduce running costs for manufacturers.

Button is currently a factory driver for Honda, which has direct links to Acura’s program in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, although the Japanese manufacturer is not understood to currently be involved in WEC discussions.

However, when asked by Sportscar365 if he would be interested in racing under the new regs, Button said, “Yeah, I would like to.”

His current contract with SMP is through the duration of the WEC’s ‘Super Season’.

“I think working with a manufacturer and doing Le Mans, it doesn’t matter where you come from,” Button said.

“So it doesn’t matter if you’ve done F1 for how many years and achieved whatever, because they want you to have endurance experience.

“This is great, the next couple of years, for that. But I don’t come here thinking it’s just for experience. I come here to challenge and do the best job we can.”

Button Considered IMSA Before Joining WEC

The 38-year-old Briton confirmed that he had considered joining the WeatherTech Championship for his debut full-season in closed-wheel racing.

Multiple sources had linked him to a potential seat with Acura Team Penske, likely in an endurance-only role.

However, Button, who currently lives in California, elected to join Honda’s factory program in Super GT championship instead.

“I was thinking about it,” he said. “But my main aim was Super GT in Japan. For me, the cars are awesome, and the competition is fantastic.

“I work for Honda, I’m an ambassador for Honda, so it worked out perfectly.

“We have the Acura in IMSA, but I feel that the championship in Japan is so competitive. It’s been great, we’re leading the championship now after three races.

“And then, the possibility came up to race here. I spoke to one of my friends who was at all the tests where the BR1 was driving and he said, ‘mate, it looks great’.

“I called the team and they were interested for me to get in the car at Magny-Cours, and here we are.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.


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