Jenson Button to make Le Mans debut

Former F1 world champion secures LMP1 drive for Le Mans with privateer team SMP Racing

Jenson Button will go up against his ex-McLaren Formula One team-mate Fernando Alonso at Le Mans next month, after securing a drive with the Russian privateer squad SMP Racing.

Button will share the outfit’s BR1 prototype with fellow ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov and former IndyCar man Mikhail Aleshin at the Le Mans 24 Hours and the subsequent rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) ‘Super Season’, which includes Silverstone in August and runs to Le Mans in 2019.

Formula One 2018: teams and drivers

The 2009 F1 champion said: “I’m delighted to be a part of the SMP Racing team. I think with the experience we have from different types of racing and the team’s fantastic experience in endurance racing, we have a great chance to fight at the front for the win and I can’t wait to get going.”

SMP Racing owner Boris Rotenberg added: “I’m happy to welcome Jenson as a part of our team. We’re sure that our line-up is one of the best and most competitive in the FIA WEC.”

The championship gets going this weekend in Spa, Belgium, with Aleshin and Petrov racing as a duo due to a clashing commitment for Button in Japan, driving a Honda NSX GT at the second round of the Super GT season.

SMP’s other entry is being driven by Russians Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan, plus ex-Peugeot and Toyota factory driver Stephane Sarrazin. Their rivals in the LMP1 class include the works Toyotas, with Alonso among the drivers, as well as Rebellion Racing, ByKolles, Dragonspeed and a pair of Ginettas from British team Manor.

The addition of Button’s name to the grid means that a total of 22 drivers with some F1 experience will be taking part in Le Mans this year, including Alonso, Bruno Senna, Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi in the LMP1 class; Juan-Pablo Montoya, Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne, Giedo van der Garde and Pastor Maldonado in the LMP2 ranks; plus Porsche’s Gianmaria Bruni and Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella in GT.

Now check out the Le Mans inspired Toyota GR Super Sport Concept

Most Popular

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector
SsangYong J100 electric SUV
SsangYong

SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector

The tough looking electric mid-size SUV is slated for production next year and will be joined by a pick-up model
15 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021