Button mulls WEC for full-time return and would “love to try” NASCAR oval

World Endurance Championship

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Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion, is looking at making a full-time return to racing next year.

The 43-year-old raced in F1 between 2000 and 2017, though his final year featured just one grand prix in addition to an appearance in Japan’s Super GT sports car series.

Button competed full-time in sports cars until the Covid-19 pandemic. That, along with F1 broadcasting commitments and an advisory role with the Williams F1 team, restricted him to three race outings in three years.

This year Button moved into stock car racing, committing to a three-race programme in NASCAR’s top level Cup series. He also joining its Garage 56 project for the Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Mike Rockenfeller and Jimmie Johnson.

Button made his NASCAR debut at COTA in March
His first appearance was in March at Circuit of the Americas, where he finished 18th, then he raced a modified NASCAR car at Le Mans earlier this month. Speaking to media including RaceFans ahead of his Cup series return on the new Chicago street circuit next month, Button said his return to racing has made him hungry to scale up his efforts for 2024.

“There’s lots of emotions, positive and negative, from COTA. Does it make me want to do more? Yeah,” Button said.

“Road courses, yes. Ovals, I would love to try an oval one day, but it’s another world. These guys have driven ovals since they were five or six years old. So why would I be good at it? I don’t know.

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“It’s a possibility, but it’s a lot of work and it’s already enough getting used to driving such a big car for me. And that style of racing is a big step as well.

Jimmie Johnson/Mike Rockenfeller/Jenson Button, #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Le Mans 24 Hours, 2023
Button was also part of NASCAR’s Le Mans entry
“So maybe one day. But I’m very happy and very lucky to be doing the three races that I’m doing this year. Looking forward to Chicago and then obviously Indianapolis [road course] a few weeks’ time after that.”

Having sampled various forms of motorsport since retiring from F1, Button is now looking at committing to a series full-time again.

“I have jumped around doing lots of different things over the years. I also raced in GTs in 2020, I did one race in the UK in the GT3, and rallycross. Basically because I’ve always wanted to race in those series, so I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to jump into certain cars here and there and race.

“I didn’t think that I would want to do a full season again because of how busy the schedule always is, but I feel that I’ll be racing in something next year doing a full season. It’s great doing one-off races, but you don’t get the best out of yourself.

“That’s why for me doing three races here in the Cup has been really good, because I get to spend time with the team, I get to spend more time in the simulator and really working with my engineer crew chief to develop the skills between us and to have a good understanding.

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“So, yes, I want to do a full season next year. Time-permitting. I need to balance a few things, as I’ve been very busy this year. But it will be endurance racing, which will be either IMSA or WEC.”

However Button stressed he is open to further NASCAR outings. “Who knows what could happen in the future, whether it’s WEC, IMSA, or maybe some more NASCAR races. I don’t know. But I’ll definitely be leaning on Jim [France, NASCAR CEO] maybe a little bit for that.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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