One of the highest-profile debuts in the history of the Autobacs Super GT Series has finally been made official: 2009 Formula One World Champion, Jenson Button, will make his Super GT race debut at this year’s 46th International Suzuka 1000km: The Final.
Button, a veteran of over seventeen seasons in Formula 1, will drive for Team Mugen in the #16 Motul Mugen Honda NSX-GT, alongside 2016 Suzuka 1000km pole winner Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima.
Button’s Super GT journey will begin with a mid-week tyre test at Suzuka Circuit on June 6-7, but the excitement of this announcement – a deal that is nine months in the making – will carry on through the 46th and final running of the Suzuka 1000km on August 27th.
The native of Frome, England first brought up the possibility of racing in Super GT shortly after the announcement of his Formula 1 sabbatical in September 2016. On Friday, Button and Team Mugen made the announcement official.
“After driving an NSX Concept-GT at Honda Racing Thanks Day last December, I became interested in racing in Super GT,” said the former World Champion.
“I spoke with Honda and they have given me a chance to race at the Suzuka 1000km. As a F1 driver and a member of Team Mugen, I will push to win. I am very much looking forward to racing in front of my Japanese fans again.”
“We are delighted to confirm that Jenson will be driving for Team Mugen in the Suzuka 1000km,” said team director Nagataka Tezuka. “He is an extremely talented and experienced driver, and we hope he will have a great race. Hideki Mutoh, Daisuke Nakajima, and Jenson Button is an exciting and formidable driver line-up and we are confident Team Mugen will be able to show our best performance at the final ever Suzuka 1000km.”
With 15 Grand Prix victories and 50 podium finishes over 309 career Grands Prix to supplement his World Drivers’ Championship title in 2009 for Brawn GP, Jenson Button’s place as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of his generation is secure. Button will be the first former Formula 1 World Champion that has ever competed in Super GT.
With Team Mugen, Button joins a team with a rich Formula 1 lineage, as Mugen Power enjoyed a healthy amount success as a Formula 1 engine supplier in the 1990s with the likes of Jordan Grand Prix and Equipe Ligier.
At this year’s Suzuka 1000km, Button will have a chance to race once again alongside the likes of fellow F1 alumni Heikki Kovalainen (Lexus Team SARD) and Kazuki Nakajima (Lexus Team au TOM’s) – as well as Kamui Kobayashi, who will also race at Suzuka as a third driver for Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh.