Button will "definitely" return to Le Mans, eyes LMP2

Jenson Button says he'll "definitely" race in the Le Mans 24 Hours again in future, and could contest the LMP2 class to help prepare him for the FIA World Endurance Championship's hypercar rules.

Button will "definitely" return to Le Mans, eyes LMP2

Button made his final SUPER GT outing at Motegi last weekend, calling time on a two-year stint in the series that included winning the GT500 title in his rookie season with Naoki Yamamoto.

The 2009 Formula 1 champion says he has yet to finalise any racing plans for 2020, but says a second Le Mans outing is “definitely” on his radar as he sets his sights on WEC’s new flagship class, which will come into force in the 2020/21 season.

In a press conference to mark his SUPER GT farewell at Motegi, Button was asked which other disciplines and events he would like to try in the future.

“There are many [races I’d like to do]," he said. "I like off-roading as well, but the off-roading I’ve been doing is very different to the Dakar, a lot more aggressive with jumps and things.

“I’ll race the Baja 1000 with some friends at the end of this year, on the same weekend as DTM and SUPER GT in Fuji, which I’m very excited about. 

“In the future, I will definitely race in Le Mans again. I’m very excited about the new regulations and in the future it will be a great series, WEC."

Read Also:

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Button elaborated on his sportscar racing plans, and revealed that a return to La Sarthe could come as early as next year.

“If I did it next year, it would be to get used to Le Mans again and just gain more experience," he said. "Probably in LMP2, because that’s the pace the hypercar is supposed to be.

"And at least you’re racing in competition. Unless you’re in a Toyota, you can't win [outright]. It’s really going to be boring for Toyota really, no competition. So LMP2 is great category and maybe that’s an option. Apart from that I’ve got no plans at all. 

“For me the direction I’d like to go is WEC in 2020/21, that season.”

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Jenson Button

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Jenson Button

Photo by: Marc Fleury

After quitting Formula 1 at the end of 2016 and spending another year largely on the sidelines, Button took on a dual racing programme in 2018 as he paired his SUPER GT campaign with a drive in the WEC with the SMP Racing LMP1 squad.

However, Button didn’t see out the 2018/19 superseason, pulling out of the final three races of the campaign, including what should have been his second Le Mans outing as he said he was finding it impossible to juggle that and his SUPER GT commitments.

SMP hired another ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne as his replacement for La Sarthe and the Belgian went on to finish third overall in the #11 BR Engineering BR1.

However, Button has no regrets on missing out on a potential podium at Le Mans, saying Toyota’s dominance meant a victory was never on the cards.

“You don’t go to Le Mans to finish third,” he said. “Fair play to [Vandoorne], he did a great job. But I wouldn’t have stood on the podium and been happy with third. 

“You know you’ve got no chance of winning, and third is kind of a win for you, but it’s not, so it’s a bit weird. Finishing Le Mans is good in itself. But when I get to Le Mans, I want to be in a car that can actually win Le Mans."

NASCAR outings would be 'just for fun'

Button triggered speculation he could be part of a potential future entry into NASCAR with Honda when he tweeted 'Sign me up!' in reply to a story published by Motorsport.com last month, prompting Tony Stewart to declare the Briton would be "huge" for the series.

Asked how serious was the possibility of racing in the American series, especially given he is now based in the US, Button said: “I’m open to every challenge, NASCAR would be a big challenge because it’s very difficult and many F1 drivers have struggled in NASCAR. 

“Who knows, but maybe the lower categories just for fun, the Truck series or something.

"I don’t know, I still don’t have any plans for next year yet. I plan on spending a lot more time at home, especially in the first part of the year, and then we’ll see later in the year.”

On Friday, he tweeted...

 

shares
comments
Buemi: Toyota has "no real hope" of Shanghai victory

Previous article

Buemi: Toyota has "no real hope" of Shanghai victory

Next article

Shanghai WEC: Toyota back on top in final practice

Shanghai WEC: Toyota back on top in final practice
Load comments
How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans Prime

How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans

It's one of the great what-if stories in Le Mans history. Paul Newman finished second in the 24 Hours in 1979, but it could easily have been a famous victory were it not for the resourcefulness of the late Manfred Kremer.

Le Mans
Apr 13, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home Prime

The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home

Keeping trophies and momentos of key triumphs is par for the course for motorsport professionals, but what are the most cherished souvenirs picked up by the drivers and engineers who have seen and done it all?

General
Dec 26, 2020
The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era Prime

The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era

Porsche is returning to the top class of Le Mans with an LMDh prototype that it hopes will write its next successful chapter in sportscar racing. But it will have to go some to emulate its 956/962, a car which defines the Group C age more than any other.

Le Mans
Dec 16, 2020
How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend Prime

How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend

He is synonymous with success at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but Tom Kristensen's sportscar legacy amounts to much more than his record-breaking nine Le Mans wins, as the most successful driver ever at Sebring and a world champion to boot…

Le Mans
Dec 7, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020