2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button is racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the very first time where is competing in the premier LMP1 category with SMP Racing where he will go up against former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso in the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his debut, Button said, “I wasn’t able to do much during Test Day since we had some electronic sensor troubles, but I did complete 20 laps and it was so much fun.”
“It’s truly a unique circuit and I continued to make progress learning the car. It was fantastic and I can’t wait for Wednesday and the free practice sessions.”
Button believes that Toyota may be out of reach but is confident that his team can do a good job, “I have to admit I was relatively worried last year when I found out Porsche was pulling out, but I think the ACO and the FIA have done a great job with the new regulations.”
“We aren’t going to be a contender against the Toyotas, but I believe we’ll be able to hold our own. I’m sure we’re going to have an outstanding 24 Hours.”
The former McLaren driver was also impressed with the prototypes, “These cars are so fast and fun to drive, like in the Porsche Curves. Our time should be close to 03:19:00 which is extremely fast, especially for a private team.”
For now, Jenson Button is just soaking in the atmosphere at Scrutineering. “Scrutineering is a really enjoyable moment, particularly the contact with the public. I’m having a wonderful time and I think it’s a great way to interest people in the race, whether they have a ticket or not. It’s simply incredible.”
After practising at the legendary venue earlier this month, Button gave his feedback on the 13.626 km venue, “I love this circuit and particularly the Mulsanne section and the Porsche Curves.”
“The first sector is quite bumpy. Tertre Rouge is quite easy to negotiate and that leads out on to the Mulsanne Straight.”
“There’s nothing untoward on that sector – you just have to be careful with braking going into the two chicanes. It’s Mulsanne Corner that really hits you!”
“You then head off to Indianapolis followed by the Porsche Curves which are difficult, extremely fast, but great fun with these cars that have tremendous grip.”
“You can really go through these sections at high speed. You have to get to know the car first of all, but once you’re comfortable with it, it’s just pure pleasure.”
“I wouldn’t say that the circuit is hard. It’s quite pleasant in fact! The Porsche Curves is the most physically demanding part of the track, but the rest is fine,” added Button.
— WEC (@FIAWEC) June 6, 2018