Former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button will contest his first X-Prix in Extreme E this weekend.
The Briton, who ended his F1 career in 2017, will compete with his own team (JBXE Racing) and contest the season alongside Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky.
Button knows he is “not very good” at rally driving, but he “definitely wants to get better.” And Extreme E offers him the perfect platform.
The son of British and Lydden Hill rallycross racer John Button initially wanted to start in World Rallycross team, but was put off by the cost:
“I had a couple of goes in a rallycross car, wanted to do that but the cost was just through the roof. It was around the time when all the manufacturers were getting involved in World Rallycross and it was £12-15 million to run a team.”
Jenson Button did not know if he could find a similar event in this category:
“It was like ‘pfft, I’m not going to be able to find that amount’ for a category that’s not Formula 1, not the World Rally Championship. I thought it would be very difficult to bring in the sponsors and the partners. Whereas in Extreme, I think to bring sponsors onboard, it’s probably the best category there is in motorsport right now. One, because it’s electric, it’s new technology and it’s something we’re all going to be using in our road cars in 10-15 years, everyone is going to be driving electric cars, or possibly hydrogen.”
He says he is even more motivated to do so because he is competing against teams owned by Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton, for example. As a result, he also wants to improve his skills in off-road races:
“I’m really looking forward to it; it’s a very different experience to anything that I have driven and raced really on track. […] The amount of dust you get with it, the visibility is not there that I was used to in a race car, and the consistency, lap after lap having the same kind of circuit. Every lap it changes a little bit but not much. It’s very unusual and I think that’s why I love it so much and want to keep doing it, is because I’m not very good at it yet, and I really want to be.”