F1 champion Jenson Button joins Russian squad for WEC
Jenson Button will race for Russian outfit SMP Racing in the World Endurance Championship ‘superseason’. The 2009 Formula 1 champion will race alongside Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov in the LMP1 class.
Button’s first race will be the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16-17.
“My team-mates for this year will be Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov whom I know very well from his racing in Formula 1, and Mikhail obviously from his IndyCar exploits,” said Button.
“I think with those two and the experience we all 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 and fight for the win and I can’t wait to get going.”
SMP Racing founder Boris Rotenberg added that he was “delighted,” and said that his team-mates will be SMP’s “strongest drivers.
“This car was designed with the most advanced motor sport technologies by the best specialists of the Russian company BR Engineering and Italian concern Dallara. We’re sure our line-up is one of the best and most competitive in the FIA WEC.”
Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, and WEC CEO Gérard Neveu were unsurprisingly delighted to add Button’s to the roster of former F1 drivers on the grid.
“As has been demonstrated over many decades,” said Fillon, “the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains one of the great motor sport challenges that world champions wish to conquer. We are delighted to welcome Jenson Button to the WEC and to Le Mans in particular and are sure that his presence will be extremely popular with fans across the world.”
Neveu, added: “This is very good news for all motorsport fans, especially those in the UK who will see Jenson at the 6 Hours of Silverstone in August. To welcome a champion of his standing and reputation is great for the whole WEC paddock.”
SMP will run two cars: Button, Petrov and Aleshin in no11, Egor Orudzev, Matevos Isaakyan, Stephane Sarrazin in no17.