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Button to Make LMP1 Debut with SMP

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button to make WEC debut in LMP1…

Photo: Courtesy of Jenson Button

SMP Racing has added 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button to its LMP1 driver lineup for the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Button, 38, will co-drive one of the Russian outfit’s BR Engineering BR1 AER prototypes with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, with the Briton’s debut coming in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It will mark Button’s first appearance at the French endurance classic.

The trio will then contest the remainder of the ‘Super Season’, including the next two editions of Le Mans and the 1000-mile race at Sebring in 2019.

“I am pleased to welcome Jenson Button as part of our team,” said SMP Racing founder Boris Rotenberg. “This is an outstanding world-class pilot, world champion of Formula 1. He will perform in the crew with our strongest drivers, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, in the highest category.

“This machine is built by the best specialists from Russian company BR Engineering and the Dallara concern, using the latest technology in world motorsport.

“We are all confident that the crew will be very strong and will be worthy of competition to rivals from around the world.”

Button claimed his F1 title with the flash-in-the-pan Brawn GP squad, as part of a 17-season career at the single-seater pinnacle that included 15 victories.

After clinching his only championship, Button raced with McLaren until his retirement from full-time F1 at the end of 2016.

He has since turned his attention to sports cars, first securing a drive in Super GT and now the WEC.

“I’m happy to be part of the SMP Racing team at the World Endurance Championship,” said Button. “I know Vitaly well on his performance in Formula 1, and Mikhail from his success in IndyCar.

“I think that with them two and the experience that we have accumulated in different racing series – as well as with the fantastic experience of the team in the endurance race – will give us a wonderful chance to fight in the front ranks and claim victory.”

Aleshin and Petrov will drive as a pairing in next weekend’s season-opening Six Hours of Spa, due to Button’s Super GT commitments.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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