Jenson Button open to Le Mans, rallycross after Formula 1

© Getty Images

Jenson Button is open to racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and following in his father’s footsteps by entering rallycross once his Formula 1 career has ended.

Having made his F1 debut back in 2000, Button is now the most experienced driver on the grid, leading to yearly questions about his future in the sport.

The Briton’s career came close to ending in 2014 before McLaren opted to retain him alongside Fernando Alonso, while he was rumored to be set to announce his retirement last autumn, only to extend his contract by another year.

Button conceded that his future will now be a yearly debate, but said that he is still enjoying racing and that he has no fixed idea of when his time in F1 will end.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do in the future. The thing is, when I am working, when I am driving, I am more focused than ever,” Button told NBC Sports.

“That’s never an issue for me, because I want to do the best job for myself – forgetting anyone else, I want to do the best job for myself. And that’s never going to go away. I’ll never just drive around in a racing car. I will only ever race if I love pushing something to the limit and getting something out of it.

“But the future, yeah, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t really thought about. I’ve got some ideas of what I want to do in the future, but I don’t know when that’s going to be, whether that’s 2017 or 2020. Who knows?”

When asked if he would be interested in racing at Le Mans, Button was open to the idea, but spoke more widely about racing in rallycross like his father, John, did in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I’d like to do Le Mans, I would. If it fits in, if it works, if Le Mans is in the right place and if there’s possibilities for me, yeah of course,” Button said.

“I’m a big fan of rallycross, I think it’s a fantastic sport. It’s a sport my Dad used to race in, and I’ve got great memories of hearing his VW Beetle and VW Golf back in the eighties.

“Big fan of it just being outright racing, very mechanical, old school racing. 600 horsepower, madness, you can hit each other, regulations aren’t that strict. I like that.

“I think a lot of people that finish their career in motorsport decide to go down that direction because it’s a bit more relaxed and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Sebastien Loeb has just signed up for FIA Rallycross. It’s an interesting direction for a lot of sportsmen I think in motorsport.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.