Jenson Button has made it extremely clear he wanted to race full time again in 2018. This sent the speculation machine into overdrive. Some speculated a drive with a yet to be announced British LMP1 team in the WEC. Still others (myself included) speculated that he would drive a prototype in IMSA. Yet dispite all of this there was one constant rumor that stuck with Button, that was a return to the Super GT series in Japan.
Button raced in this seasons Suzuka 1000 with Team Mugen in their NSX-GT. While the race did not go his way Button was very complementary of the team and the car. Button made things official, ending speculation. He will race for Honda's NSX-GT next season full time.
"I'll be racing for Honda and have a contract to race with Honda in Super GT in 2018," Button said. "It's been a dream for the last couple of years, I love the category. I did one race in Suzuka this year, and it got me very excited. I'm very excited about the new season. There's a lot of testing to be done to feel comfortable and hopefully improve the package and go out next year and be competitive."
I wouldn't go as far as to call Button's decision shocking but I would call it an interesting decision. Button, like so many, has stated his desire to race at Le Mans. Super GT may be fairly awesome but it provides no direct path to the French endurance classic. Yes, there are other factors that went into this decision other than what Button wants. Specifically Button's partnership with Honda. There is only one team out there who will be competing for overall wins in sportscar racing who uses Honda and that is Team Penske in IMSA. Unfortunately for Button he was not included in their roster of drivers leaving only one real Honda option and that was Super GT.
That being said, Button is a Formula 1 champion, if he wanted to find an LMP1 ride for Le Mans he could find one with out much difficulty. Super GT is something a little different and the cars are plenty fast. Best of luck to Mr. Button in Japan!