Formula 1 champion signs on to drive electric racer for Xite Energy Racing in Nitro Rallycross series
Jenson Button’s post-Formula 1 adventures will continue this season as he follows his late father John into the world of rallycross.
The 2009 F1 champion has signed to join Xite Energy Racing in the Nitro Rallycross series, which races in the US, Canada, Scandinavia and Saudi Arabia, following an opener at Lydden Hill in Kent on June 18/19.
Button, 42, will race an electric-powered FC1-X alongside fellow Brit Oli Bennett in a form of motorsport that his father starred in during the 1970s and 1980s.
“I want to go racing,” said Button, who has stepped down from driving duties this year in the Extreme E off-road team he owns. “I love racing, I love competing and I want to have fun.
“I’m looking forward to racing Nitro RX with Xite Energy – a team which has great experience of not just rallycross but also racing electric vehicles.”
Button retired from F1 at the end of 2016, although he made a final one-off appearance for McLaren at the 2017 Monaco GP. Since then, he has won the Japanese Super GT championship in a Honda NSX in 2018, made his debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours, sampled the Baja 1000, raced at Silverstone in a one-off British GT appearance in a McLaren GT3, launched his JBXE Extreme E team and made his historic racing debut at Goodwood.
He has always expressed a love for rallycross because of his family connection to the sport.
“Dad used to race in a Volkswagen Beetle and then a Volkswagen Golf,” he said. “I’d like to emulate what he did – that would be pretty special. I used to love going along and watching him race. I remember it was so loud. That won’t be a problem this time: the FC1 is not loud. It’s awesome that the kids can come and watch and don’t need to wear headsets.
“It looks awesome. There’s so much action. There are some fantastic drivers in some absolute beasts. The car I’ll be racing, the FC1-X, has 1000bhp and is a four-wheel drive EV with 12in of suspension travel – which it needs. Some of the jumps I’ll be flying over are extremely big and kind of scary, but that’s why it’s exciting to me.
“Rallycross is night-and-day different to F1, and that’s why I love it. I left F1 after 17 years because I wanted to try something new. I’m all about new challenges. I’m a racing driver, not an F1 driver, so new challenges is what I’m all about. I felt I achieved what I needed to in F1, so it’s nice to try different things.”
Button and Bennett, who met as competitors in Extreme E last year, have already begun preparations for their season, driving Xite Energy’s Mini RX Supercar and Fiesta Supercar at Pembrey in Wales this month.