Jenson Button admits driving on sand with a four-wheel driver ODYSSEY 21 is very different to anything he has experienced before as he prepares himself for the inaugural round of the Extreme E Championship this weekend.
The 2009 Formula 1 World Champion is competing with his own JBXE Team alongside Swede Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky this year, with both tasting the Desert X Prix course in AlUla in Saudi Arabia for the first time on Friday in preparation for the first round of the five-round championship.
“It’s exciting to be here, with so many great teams and drivers from around the world,” said Button. “It’s very special to be a part of this. It’s been great to share the dirt with those guys, although my world championship obviously came on asphalt, so it’s been a bit of a shock!
“I’ve done a bit of off-roading before in a rally car, but nothing like this in the sand and the ODYSSEY 21 is a very different vehicle – I’ve never previously driven four wheel-drive. It’s certainly extreme. You’re playing with the steering wheel the whole time and the course is insane!”
Button says he is not one hundred per cent ready for the start of the season due to the change in driving style needed for the ODYSSEY 21 cars, but he is looking to make progress across the rest of the weekend in the desert.
“I like the idea of individual qualifying, because we can really push the car to the limit and get a feel for what it can do,” said the Briton. “My team are doing a fantastic job and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they progress through this season.
“I’m definitely not ready yet – it’s going to take a bit of time and we’re constantly learning, which is what I want to do – but it’s a great experience and I’m really enjoying it. It gives me a big rush of excitement.”