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IMSA Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta

Button’s options for WEC could include joining Vettel next year

Former F1 world champion Jenson Button says he has “a couple of options” to race in the World Endurance Championship or IMSA SportsCar Championship events next year.

Jenson Button, Sky TV and Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

One of his choices is understood to be racing a second Jota Porsche 963 in WEC competition in 2024, with Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica also in the frame for drives at the Hertz-backed team.

Button is making his IMSA GTP debut this weekend in JDC Miller MotorSports’ Porsche 963, alongside Mike Rockenfeller and Tijmen van der Helm.

Insight: What F1 champion Button can expect on his IMSA debut

Although this weekend’s one-off deal came about after talks prompted by Rockenfeller and IMSA boss John Doonan, it’s also been viewed as a toe-in-the-water exercise ahead of next season. He also confirmed that this weekend is the only running he has planned with JDC.

“I honestly don’t know, I have a couple of options in IMSA to do a full season and to do enduros, I also have a couple of options to do WEC,” said Button when asked about his future on Thursday.

“First of all, I need to see if I enjoy this race weekend, and I think I will, and I’ve got a pass from the wife, so that’s another important thing!”

Button is keen to race more in 2024 after three appearances in NASCAR Cup road races and taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Hendrick-Chevrolet Garage 56 project.

“I’m in a very different part of my life now, I have two kids, and I don’t want to be away from my family too much,” he said. “But I think I’m a better dad when I’m racing, and my wife says the same thing.

“I will be racing something next year, it just depends where and how much I do.”

#5 JDC Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button

#5 JDC Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Button says his race weekend so far has been about adjusting to the LMDh car, which is the first prototype he’s driven since the SMP Racing LMP1 project in 2018.

“The problem is that all I’ve driven this year is NASCAR, the Cup car and Garage 56 at Le Mans,” he added.

“And you’re making big movements with the steering wheel, which you can’t do in a high downforce car, because as soon as you get lateral load you lose everything.

“You have to be incredibly precise in these cars, but I’d heard drivers saying positive and negative things about them, so I was a little bit sceptical, but after driving it for a day, it’s just a racing car with downforce. You’re going to not like some things but like other things.

“It locks up when you’re going slow because these cars don’t have mechanical grip, so you’re always fighting for that because you’ve got the car as low as you can to make the downforce work. If you put the car in the air, it becomes softer, and you’ll fly in the low-speed but you’ll be useless in the high-speed stuff.

“It’s the same with any racing car with downforce, which is great, so I know what I’m doing.”

Button has had no issues so far with the electrical hybrid system in the Porsche, which has added an extra dimension to IMSA’s premier class competition this season.

“I wouldn’t even know it has a hybrid, there’s not been a moment where it hasn’t worked as expected, so it’s very different from when we had a little lever when I raced one in F1,” he said.

#5 JDC Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button

#5 JDC Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“There’s never moments where I get push under braking when it’s harvesting, it’s been very consistent.

“The one thing that does take a lot of getting used to is that these cars have so many things that you can change. For me, just jumping in it, I’d say there’s too many things that I could change!

“I said to the guys, just give me the simple things that will give me the biggest benefit in terms of changing. The fine detail is never going to be necessary for me right now. I’ll find that out in the race.

“But there are so many things a driver can change, the driver manual is 58 or 60 pages. Learning that, when you’ve never driven the car, is quite difficult!

“There’s a lot to play with, and it’s exciting to put the effort in and make a difference.”

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