Jenson Button recently admitted he stayed in Formula 1 a year too long. The Britt had lost his zeal for racing which lead to his semi retirement. That all changed during a recent trip to Japan and a ride in the Suzuka 1000. Even though the race did not go Button's way it reignited his passion for motorsport. Button to race again and in a recent interview he hinted at a desire to race in IMSA which immediately sent the rumor machine into overdrive with the most popular spot being Penske, who has yet to announce their 4th full time driver.
“I love that there is a selection of tubs that they race with and then they can make it their own with the aerodynamic package and power unit," Button said. "It's a growing sport, motorsport in America. The GT category is great but I'm not sure I can be in a car being overtaken by DP cars. That's something I can't get my head around.”
Translation: Button wants to fight for overall wins. He does not want to be passed by a faster category. If he races he wants a chance to be the first across the finish line. There is one potential fly in the Button to Penske ointment. That is 2017 IMSA Prototype Champion Ricky Taylor and his link to Penske's 4th driver position. In any news surrounding Penske and his full time drivers ultimately comes back to Ricky Taylor.
Ricky Taylor (Far Right) Won the 2017 IMSA Championship along with his brother Jordan (Holding the Trophy)
Not to get off topic but I find the potential move to Penske a bit of an odd choice for Taylor. He just won a championship for his father's team with his brother Jordan as his co-driver. Things do not get more comfortable than driving with your brother for your father's team in the best car. Part of me understands a desire to branch out and do things on your own, get out from the family umbrella and when Penske calls you answer.
How does this all affect Button and his potential IMSA ride? Well if you're like me and find it difficult to believe Taylor would leave his family and championship winning squad, that opens the door for Button. What does the Captian say? Roger Penske recently told motorsport.com, “We have not made a decision on who the other drivers will be in the Acura program – the second driver with Helio and the extra drivers for the three endurance races. That’s really in the hands of Art [St. Cyr] and the people at Honda and Acura.
Roger Penske has won Championships in everything from IndyCar to NASCAR. He is the premier name in North American Motorsports.
“We obviously have our guys lined up the way we expected and this is now a chance to look across the range of drivers available, internally and externally – and by that I mean established IMSA drivers and others outside of IMSA – to see if there’s anyone that Honda wants, from a public relations standpoint. This would be a good opportunity for them.”
“I’m really looking to get the nod from [Honda/HPD] in the next week to two weeks to be able to announce the full lineup. I’ve had no direct contact with Jenson Button but if he has an interest, then he probably had a talk with the Honda guys.”
Yup, zero confirmation of any direction from anyone potentially involved. Ricky's camp is noticeably silent and we get more non-confirmation from Jenson's camp. Now the end result could be both drivers finding a role at Penske. If both drivers end up at Penske, Taylor would likely be the full time driver with Button filling one of the Endurance seats.
Whatever happens Penske is coming out both guns blazing! They are embarking on a massive testing schedule with the best drivers Penske could get their hands on. I would not at all be surprised to see Button in some driving role with the team.
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