Jenson Button to follow in father's footsteps with 2022 rallycross campaign

Rallycross News

Jenson Button is taking his racing career off-road, emulating his father by competing in the Nitro Rallycross championship this season

Jenson Button

Button has been announced for the Xite rallycross for 2022-23

Xite Energy Racing

Jenson Button has announced a full-time rallycross campaign for 2022-23, as the 2009 Formula 1 world champion returns to racing in an all-electric off-road series.

Button, who has long expressed admiration for his father John’s rallycross achievements, will compete for Xite Energy Racing in the Nitro Rallycross championship.

The 15-time grand prix winner said competing in the same off-road discipline as his dad would be “pretty special”.

The elder Button was a familiar face to F1 fans, ever-present by his son’s side during his world championship year. But John Button first made his name in rallycross, finishing runner-up in the 1976 British Rallycross Championship. The Frome Flyer is now looking to follow in his father’s wheel tracks.

“There’s a real family connection with rallycross,” explained Button. “Dad used to race in the late ’70s and ’80s in a Volkswagen Beetle and then a Volkswagen Golf. If you go on YouTube you’ll actually find some videos of my Dad racing at Lydden Hill with Murray Walker commentating.

Jenson Button testing testing rallycross car

Button and team have already undertaken significant testing

Xite Energy Racing

“I’d like to emulate what he did – that would be pretty special. I used to love going along and watching him race. I remember it was so loud. That won’t be a problem this time – the FC1 is not loud; it’s awesome that the kids can come and watch and don’t need to wear headsets!”

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After setting up his own boutique car manufacturer in Radford, his own Extreme E team and British GT squad, Button is now keen to get back to full-time competition. He will do so for Xite behind the wheel of the FCX-1: a 1,000bhp, 4WD all-electric rallycross machine that makes up the grid in Nitro’s new ‘E-class’.

Nitro RX, which has been set up by rallycross, motocross and stunt driver Travis Pastrana, comprises of 12 rounds and kicks off at the UK’s home of rallycross, Lydden Hill, on June 18. It will then take in the Nordic region, the US as well as the Middle East. Button is eager to get going.

“I want to go racing,” he said. “I love racing, I love competing and I want to have fun. Xite Energy has great experience of not just rallycross but also racing electric vehicles.

“It looks awesome. There’s so much action. There are some fantastic drivers driving some absolute beasts. Some of the jumps I’ll be flying over are extremely big and kind of scary, but that’s why it’s exciting to me as it’s a new challenge.”

Jenson Button with Olie Bennett's, Xite Energy Racing rallycross team

Button’s new team-mate Bennett says the world champion’s F1 experience has already shone through

Xite Energy Racing

Button has driven for his eponymous Extreme E and British GT squads, as well racing in WEC for SMP, but this new experience might just be the biggest departure yet for the former McLaren, Brawn and Honda driver.

“Rallycross is night and day different to F1 and that’s why I love it,” he said. “I left that after 17 years because I wanted to try something new. I’m all about new challenges. I’m a racing driver, not an F1 driver, so new challenges is what I’m all about. I felt I achieved what I needed to in F1 so it’s nice to try different things.”

Button’s new team-mate and boss Oli Bennett said the benefit of Button’s F1 experience was already showing.

“We’ve already completed a lot of testing and we’ve learned a fair bit from each other,” he said. “As you can imagine, he took to it really quickly, adapted his driving style and was very, very fast. It’s been really interesting and useful to compare the data – but I don’t think there’s any doubt which one of us is quicker in a go-kart…

“It’s great to work with Jenson. We competed against each other in Extreme E last season and immediately got on. He’s a great guy and somebody who’s going to be a great addition.

“As well as the circuit experience he brings, one of the things you notice immediately is the level of professionalism. You don’t become a F1 world champion without knowing how to get the best out of the car, the engineers, the team and everybody around you. I feel, as an organisation, we’ve already benefitted hugely from having him with us.”