Button reflects on his career ahead of 250th GP

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Jenson Button has been in a reflective mood ahead of his 250th Formula 1 grand prix this weekend in Bahrain, which is live on NBCSN from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

The British driver made his debut back in 2000 with Williams, and has enjoyed a career full of ups and downs. After being the breakthrough rookie of his first year, he had three mediocre years with Benetton and BAR before finally becoming a regular podium finisher in 2004. He claimed his first win in 2006 for Honda, but the team then entered a sharp decline and pulled out of F1 at the end of 2008, appearing to leave Button’s career in ruins.

Out of Honda’s ashes, Brawn GP emerged and pulled off the greatest fairytale in F1 history to win both championships, with Button becoming the 2009 world champion. Since then, he has raced for McLaren and enjoyed considerable success, but ahead of race number 250, he was in a reflective mood.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way, as you can imagine, racing for 14 years in Formula 1,” Button explained. “The thing that surprises me is how quickly it goes by. Fifty races ago I was in Hungary, celebrating my 200th Grand Prix, which I won by the way! So, it’s amazing how time flies.

“You really do have to enjoy every moment of it as much as you can. For me, being 14 years in the sport, I still feel like I have more to learn. I’m definitely not the perfect driver yet, and I never will be, but there is always still more to learn. That’s something, for me, that’s exciting about the sport.”

For Button, the seismic changes to the technical regulations in 2014 have posed a new challenge that he relishes, even at the ripe old age of 34.

“New regulations obviously are changing the sport quite a lot, especially with these new regulations, and again, you always have more to learn,” he said. “For me that’s what keeps the sport exciting and that’s what has kept me on my toes for the last 14 years and hopefully for many more.”

The British driver will be keen on adding to his tally of 15 wins in Formula 1, and with McLaren enjoying a mini-revival following a disastrous 2013 campaign, this could be a successful year for him.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III