The 38-year-old 2009 F1 world champion is getting ready to compete in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans, a legendary race and unique atmosphere he is truly discovering for the first time.
In Paris and dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, right now Jenson Button would prefer to remain standing for interviews. "I just spent hours sitting behind the wheel. I'm good," he laughs as he points out the AOTech simulator cockpit behind him. The 2009 F1 world champion is a rookie at this year's edition of the Le Mans and must also earn his 24 Hours "driver's license" before taking the start of the big race. "This is a good warm-up before hitting the track for real."
Button is not terribly familiar with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and has never even seen the race as a spectator. He does, however, remember track time about 20 years ago at the Bugatti circuit for an F3 test. "Doing the 24 Hours is really a new experience for me!" Not only is he tackling the iconic Le Mans circuit for the first time, but also race of 24 hours. In 1999, entered in the 24 Hours of Spa with BMW, he was unable to take the wheel after his teammate David Saelens had problems with the car earlier in the race.
Button recognizes triathlons (which he does regularly) and Super GT (in which he is currently active in Japan) should help him with his training. Triathlons for physical and mental stamina, and Super GT for managing traffic on the track and sharing the car with another driver.
As far as ambition is concerned, he is already well-trained. "I love racing, and I'm going to keep an eye on the other classes because the level is high there as well. In LMP1, there's Toyota, a manufacturer with a hybrid car, but they have two, which are set to fight one another for victory. I'm looking forward to seeing where we stand on Sunday after Test Day. And then for the race, we'll see. Who knows?"