Russian Team SMP Racing has today announced Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion, as the third driver in the #11 BR Engineering BR1. Button will join Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov for the 2018/2019 Super season.
The British ace will start his campaign at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans. He won’t race in Spa next week due to the date clashing with the second round of the Japanese Super GT Series. Next to Fernando Alonso, Button is the second F1 World Champion to compete in the FIA WEC this season, and the 12th (ex-) F1 driver on this year’s grid.
Boris Rotenberg, SMP Racing founder and leader said: “I’m happy to welcome Jenson Button as a part of our team. He is a top-level driver and Formula 1 Champion. He will race with the Russian BR1 prototype, a car of the top LMP1 category. His teammates will be our strongest drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov. This car was designed with the most advanced motorsport 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.”
Jenson Button added: “I’m delighted to be a part of the SMP Racing team in the FIA World Endurance Championship. My teammates 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. 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.”
The Russian team SMP Racing will take part in the FIA WEC Super Season with two cars of the top LMP1 category, the Russian BR1 prototypes. The team will be represented by six drivers: Egor Orudzev, Matevos Isaakyan, Stephane Sarrazin (car number 17) and Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and Jenson Button (car number 11).
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “As has been demonstrated over many decades, the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains one of the great motorsport 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.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the WEC said: “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.”
Parts of this report were first published by our friends at Club Arnage.