Jenson Button will miss the next two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship because of clashing Super GT commitments.
SMP Racing confirmed that the 2009 Formula 1 world champion will be absent from its LMP1 lineup for the 1,000-mile race at Sebring in March and the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May.
Button appeared on the provisional entry list for Sebring and recently suggested to Sportscar365 that he would only miss Spa, but SMP confirmed his absence from both.
It’s understood that Button’s Sebring unavailability is caused by a clash with a Super GT pre-season test, while the Spa round clashes with the Fuji 500km.
This mirrors the scheduling conflict Button faced earlier in the 2018-19 WEC ‘Super Season’, when he was forced to miss the Spa opener to race at Fuji.
“It was clear that my participation in the FIA WEC and Super GT seasons would not be easy to combine,” said Button, who scored his first LMP1 podium with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov in Shanghai last month.
“At the same time, performing in the SMP Racing team, even if you have to skip some races, is a great chance that should not be missed.
“The podium in Shanghai was an incredible achievement for our team, and we will try and continue to work to get even higher results.”
The news effectively confirms that Button, who has openly expressed a desire to return to Japanese racing, will defend his Super GT title next year, although a program has not yet been formally announced by Honda.