Jenson Button set for Red Bull GRC switch


Jenson Button in the garage. Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Jenson Button looks set to compete in Red Bull Global Rallycross next year.

The 2009 Formula One world champion will sit out of next season after McLaren signed Stoffel Vandoorne to race alongside Fernando Alonso.

However, both Button and McLaren have left the door open for a return in 2018, although that does appear to be an unlikely scenario.

In the meantime, Button has been firming up plans to race next year, with Rallycross and GT racing in Japan on his agenda.

Button has long spoke of his desire to compete in Rallycross events when he retires from Formula One. His father, John Button was a frontrunner in British Rallycross in the 1970s.

However, while many would have expected him to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Button has in fact hinted that a move to Red Bull Global Rallycross is something he has an eye on.

“I might do some rallycross in America, and do some testing in something else in rallycross,” he told Motorsport.com. “There’s lots that I can do, and I’ve just got to choose how much I really want to do next year, or have more of a rest.”

He did, however, rule out running a full season.

“That won’t happen next year,” he said. “In the future, definitely.”

Button’s desire to compete in America could be tied to the fact that McLaren engine partner Honda currently has a factory-backed team in Red Bull GRC. But Button insists that his ties to Honda would not mean him exclusively running the Japanese marque’s machinery.

“I don’t think it has to be [the case], but obviously those are the easiest programmes for me to do, yes,” he told the Miami-based website. “Obviously if I get offered a drive, I will speak to the team about it. Nothing is set is stone, but I am sure they wouldn’t want me racing for a main competitor of Honda, which is completely understandable. I understand that.”

One comment from Button could appear to have hinted at a possible programme with Volkswagen. The German manufacturer is keen to expand their presence in Red Bull GRC, where they currently have a team run by Andretti Autosport which has won three titles in two years.

When speaking about the Volkswagen Group’s recent withdrawal from the World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship, he spoke of the possible benefits for their Rallycross efforts.

“I think it’s a massively growing sport, especially with Audi pulling out of Le Mans, and VW pulling out of rallying,” he said. “I know their main aim is not rallycross, but it will definitely help their rallycross programmes.”

Volkswagen and Honda both have factory-backed teams in Red Bull GRC – Credit: Dominik Wilde