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Jenson Button lifted by SMP pace on WEC debut amid Le Mans setbacks

Ex-Formula 1 driver Jenson Button believes SMP Racing's performance at last weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours is encouraging for this rest of his World Endurance Championship campaign

Button missed the 2018/19 opener at Spa-Francorchamps but linked up with SMP Racing for Le Mans and will remain with the outfit for the remainder of the season.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion explained that he was content with the pace of the Russian entrant's BR Engineering BR1 in between electronic problems early on and its late retirement with engine failure.

"When the car was running, it was running well," he told Autosport after his race debut in the WEC.

"I was really happy with the stints that I did and the times we did, even though we spent three hours in the garage at the start of the race and had the disappointment of retiring at the end.

"The project is still very young and Le Mans probably came six months too early for us, but the performance we showed bodes well for the future."

A sensor issue on the AER-powered BRE Button is sharing with Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin resulted in an extended three-hour pitstop, interspersed with one slow lap.

The sister car driven by Stephane Sarrazin, Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev battled with the third-placed Rebellion-Gibson R-13 for more than seven hours before Isaakyan crashed out.

The Dallara-built BREs both lapped within a second of Rebellion Neel Jani's privateer LMP1 best during the race.

"It was such a lovely experience; I really enjoyed doing Le Mans for the first time," added Button.

"I was lucky that I got to drive at sunset and sunrise."

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