Brendon Hartley will make his return to the FIA World Endurance Championship, having been confirmed as part of SMP Racing’s lineup for the next two rounds.
The two-time world champion is set to fill in for Jenson Button at the wheel of the Russian squad’s No. 11 BR Engineering BR1 AER for both the 1000 Miles of Sebring and Six Hours of Spa.
Hartley will share driving duties with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, marking his first WEC start since being crowned world champion in Bahrain in 2017 with Porsche.
The 29-year-old Kiwi, who remains contracted to the German manufacturer, is coming off a one-year stint in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso and was recently confirmed as a Ferrari F1 sim driver.
“I’m very pleased to join SMP Racing for the next two WEC races at Sebring and Spa,” Hartley said.
“The team have all the tools and a great driver roster so I think we have a big opportunity to fight for podiums. It marks my return to the WEC and I’m really looking forward to being back in the paddock amongst many familiar faces.”
Button, who took part in the last four races with SMP, is unavailable for Sebring and Spa due to his Super GT commitments, although is expected to return for the season-ending 24 Hours of Le Mans.
SMP’s sister BR1 will be driven at Sebring by Egor Orudzhev, Stephane Sarrazin and Sergey Sirotkin, who has replaced Matevos Isaakyan in the lineup.
Expanded SMP Effort for Le Mans?
While Hartley is not yet confirmed for Le Mans, it’s believed he could play a part in the team’s rumored expanded LMP1 effort for the race.
Sportscar365 understands that SMP could have three BR1s on the grid in the French endurance classic, potentially operating the Gibson-powered car that’s currently entered by DragonSpeed.
Multiple sources have indicated that the American team’s participation in the top class is currently in question, with a second LMP2 entry for Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande a possibility for the final rounds of the season.
Team principal Elton Julian has yet to return messages by Sportscar365.