Jenson Button new SMP Racing driver, misses Spa

Jenson Button has just been announced as the new driver at SMP Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Button will do the full 2018/19 season, except for the race at Spa Francorchamps next weekend, since he has Super GT commitments for Honda in Japan.

The 38 year-old English racing driver will share the car with his former Formula 1 colleague Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin in the new BR1 Engineering AER #11.

Jenson Button has only done one endurance race before, when he participated in the 24 Hours of Spa back in 1999. His sportscar debut will happen at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in just over one month time.

SMP Racing #11
Photo: JJ Media

That makes it 20 former Formula 1 drivers confirmed on the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid so far, and 15 present at Spa Francorchamps.

SMP Racing appeared to be the main contender to Toyota Gazoo Racing at the Prologue, which was run at Paul Ricard earlier this month. The Russian team had both cars in top 5, but was also the non-hybrid car that turned the most lap of all. SMP Racing has tested the car through the latter stages of 2017, and managed to do 515 laps at the Prologue. Only Petrov and Aleshin were driving car 11 during that test.

The team thereby has former Formula 1 drivers in 50% of their seats this year, since Button, Petrov and Stephane Sarrazin in #17 all have Formula 1 experience. Only Button and Petrov have had the pleasure of being on a Formula 1 podium – and Button even won the World Championship in 2009, when he drove for Brawn GP.

The FIA World Endurance Championship will have their first race of 2018/19 season on Saturday 5 May, with being present on location during the whole event.

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