Jenson Button will finish a job started by fellow Formula 1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg when he competes in the inaugural Extreme E season this year.
The 41-year-old follows Hamilton and Rosberg into team ownership in the electric-only race series but, unlike the other two, the 2009 F1 title winner will also be getting behind the wheel of a Spark Odyssey 21 with his JBXE squad.
Button said his Extreme E entry had been on the cards after hearing about the series from Alejandro Agag, its founder and CEO.
“JBXE has been a long time coming and I’m both delighted and proud to announce its formation and entry into the inaugural Extreme E Championship,” he said.
“I caught the off-road bug a few years back which led to me entering my own team in a few races including the Mint 400 and even the Baja 1000 and I absolutely loved it!
“It was around the same time I first heard about the plans for Extreme E which I’ve followed with great interest and what Alejandro, Ali [Russell, chief marketing officer] and the team have managed to create is nothing short of incredible. And thanks to them, and our partners Apater Capital and Pipt, we get to be a part of it.
“In XE they’ve created a product that will offer first-class racing and entertainment to the fans, but also serves to highlight the impact of climate change.
“Whilst we will, of course, compete to win on track, as a collective we will also work to maximize awareness whilst racing in places that have been damaged or affected by climate change over the years.”
Button is one of 10 world champions who will compete in XE and said he expects the competition to be fierce.
“On track, I’m delighted to say there are some world-class opponents to go wheel-to-wheel with and XE is a world-first which sees true equality with male and female drivers both as team-mates and as opponents out on track,” he added.
“On that note I still have the exciting task of appointing and announcing my co-driver which will take place in the coming weeks and then all focus will turn to the opening race in Saudi Arabia [the Desert X-Prix, AlUla Saudi Arabia, April 3-4].”
While Button made his name in circuit racing, his introduction to motorsport came off-road, with his late father John a frontrunner in the British Rallycross Championship in the 1970s.
Button has also tackled Baja 1000 in Mexico in 2019. The event turned into an off-road baptism of fire when the differential exploded on the Trophy Truck he was driving, leaving him stranded for a night beneath the stars.
JBXE is the tenth team to join Extreme E.
Series founder Agag said: “I’m thrilled to welcome another major name in the world of motorsport in Jenson Button. He is one of the most popular drivers in the business and XE will give him the opportunity to live out one of his long-held passions, to compete at the highest level in off-road racing.
“Jenson, alongside his peers, will give further weight to our mission to raise awareness of the global climate crisis, while doing what we love – racing. It’s going to be fantastic to see the biggest names in motorsport on the starting line in Saudi Arabia in April – it is set to be an incredible form of entertainment, but with a strong and purposeful message around our planet.”
Beyond team owners Hamilton and Robserg, Button’s fellow world champions contesting the XE season include rally legends Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz; World Rallycross Champions Johan Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen and Mattias Ekström, Women’s Trial World Champion Laia Sanz and Pro-4 World Champion Kyle LeDuc.