Jenson Button says 'If I'm not on the Le Mans 2023 grid, there's something wrong!'

Le Mans News

A proliferation of Hyercar entrants means there should be plenty of berths at Le Mans by 2023 – Jenson Button has emphatically stated he wants to be in one of them

BUTTON Jenson (gbr), BR engineering BR1 AER team SMP racing, portrait during the 2018 Le Mans 24 hours pesage, on June 10 to 11 at Le Mans circuit, France - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Jenson Button competed for SMP at Le Mans back 2018 – now he wants more

Florent Gooden / DPPI

Jenson Button has declared there will be “something wrong” if he isn’t in the Le Mans field in 2023, laying out his clear ambition to compete in the enduro classic in the future.

Since retiring from F1 in 2017, the ’09 World Champion has taken on an eclectic itinerary. He’s competed in the Super GT championship in Japan, claiming the 2018 GT500 title for Team Kunimitsu with team-mate Naoki Yamamoto and has since raced for his own Extreme E team, JBXE racing, as well as forming a British GT squad.

Button dovetailed his Japanese driving duties with selected World Endurance Championship appearances for the SMP LMP1 outfit, almost finishing at Le Mans ’18 but for a late engine failure

Speaking to Motor Sport during our digital live event ‘A Private Audience with Jenson Button‘, the 15-time grand prix winner believes that with the incoming proliferation of Hypercar class entrants – and therefore more available seats – he sees no reason in not taking on the ‘Mount Everest’ of endurance events once more.

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“If you don’t see me on the grid for Le Mans in 2023, there’s something wrong!” he told Motor Sport. “I really want to be racing next year, and my aim is to do Le Mans 2023. I am hungry for more.”

After competing part-time in the World Endurance Championship for the Russian SMP squad in 2018, Button also spoke about the unique challenge presented by driving LMP1 cars on some of the world’s most challenging circuits.

“I raced at Le Mans in the BR1 Dallara chassis – that was cool!” he enthused.

“The car had flipped four weeks prior to that at Spa-Francorchamps through Eau Rouge at almost 200mph, so I was a little scared but the team promised me that they’d made it right and we wouldn’t flip.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get within two car lengths of a car in front, because they were worried about it taking off. Which is interesting at 200mph down the Mulsanne Straight!

11 ALESHIN Mikhail (rus), PETROV Vitaly (rus), BUTTON Jenson (gbr), BR engineering BR1 AER team SMP racing, action during the 2018 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Shanghai from november 16 to 18, at Shanghai, China - Photo Clément Marin / DPPI

Button seen here en route to his one podium in WEC with SMP, at a soaking Shanghai

Clément Marin / DPPI

“But what a feeling, driving at midnight down the Mulsanne at 230mph, in a car where the windscreen is here (motions closely around himself) in the smallest cockpit ever.”

“Such an experience and we blew up with 45 minutes to go, which was the most painful thing ever.”

As well as having his own racing ambitions to fulfill, Button also wants his son Hendrix to witness what his father has become world-renowned for doing.

“I really want my son to see me race, and he’ll be four [by Le Mans 2023]. He probably won’t remember later in life, but I want him to see Daddy race in a race car.”