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Button wants WEC Hypercar drive for Le Mans 2024

Jenson Button still has aspirations to compete for overall honours at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and would consider a full season of sportscar racing to make it happen.

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing, Mobil 1 Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion is returning to the double-points round of the World Endurance Championship this year in the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 based on the Next Gen NASCAR Cup car together with Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

But while he is excited about this year's opportunity, the Briton stressed that he has hopes of returning in the Hypercar class in 2024.

“This is a great way to get back to Le Mans,” said Button, who made his debut at the French enduro aboard one of SMP Racing’s AER-powered BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 cars in 2018.

“I would like to race there in a Hypercar: I still have the hunger, I still have the fitness and the reactions. And when you have that, why not?”

“I would like to do some more endurance racing: endurance racing for me is fun because you get to work with great drivers and great teams - it is such an emotional rollercoaster.”

The 43-year-old answered in the affirmative when asked whether he would consider a full season in either the WEC or in the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s GTP class in order for him to help fulfil his Le Mans ambitions.

“If it was with the right team, yes, I would definitely contemplate eight races, whether it is WEC or IMSA,” he said.

“I’ve done a few WEC races when I raced in LMP1 and I really enjoyed it: I thought it was great racing and it was also quite a fun car to drive.”

“I’ve not raced in IMSA, but when I look at the tracks, they are very different. The racing is extraordinarily good; I love the racing in IMSA - I would be open to that.”

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Jenson Button

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Jenson Button

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

He pointed out that competing in the North American series rather than WEC would make scheduling a full programme around his other commitments easier because “most of the races are three or four hours from home” on the west coast of the USA.

A full-time drive in the NASCAR Cup is not a possibility, stressed Button who is contesting three events with the Rick Ware Racing Ford squad this year.

“I’d like to do some more racing in the Cup series, [but] 38 races is too much,” he said.

Button only contested four of the eight WEC races of the 2018/19 superseason when he was signed with the ART-run SMP squad.

He missed the Spa season-opener in 2018 due to a clashing SUPER GT commitment with the Kunimitsu Honda team and then opted to miss Sebring and Spa rounds at the start of the following year to focus on the defence of the title he won alongside Naoki Yamamoto in the Japanese series.

Button subsequently dropped out of the second edition of Le Mans on the superseason schedule, citing family reasons and Toyota’s dominance in LMP1.

He described the SMP deal as “about learning so I could race in the years after”.

The lack of opportunities in the top class of the WEC and then COVID scuppered his plans, he explained.

Button has been linked with a IMSA drive in the past.

The Briton had talks with Acura and Penske about joining their assault on the DPi class in 2018 as he looked to return to racing full time after one-offs in F1 and SUPER GT in ’17.

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