His resumé might boast a Formula 1 world championship title, 15 grand prix wins, and a Super GT crown, but Jenson Button has a thing or two to learn when it comes to driving on loose surfaces.
So this week it was “back to school” for him, as he spent time at DirtFish as part of his preparations for the upcoming Extreme E season.
Despite being the son of a rallycross driver and a past competitor in the Baja 1000, Mint 400, and Vegas to Reno off-road races, Button – who now resides in the US – was keen to up his game on the dirt.
“I’m back to school. I’m willing to do anything to be competitive, and I definitely need it,” he said.
“I’ve done so many years of circuit racing but I’ve not really done a lot in the dirt, as they say out here in the States.
“So this was a perfect opportunity to come and learn from the guys at DirtFish and understand the gravel that you have here a little bit more – I mean, terrains are going to be different every race we go to [in Extreme E] because it’s five races around the world, but it’s just nice to get a bit of sideways time and understand where I need to be.
“I obviously need to improve a lot, I’m racing against the best drivers in the world off-road but this is a good stepping stone to that.”
Working alongside DirtFish’s lead instructor Nate Tennis, Button spent a day learning the basics of off-road driving – a whole different world to what he’d been used to in F1.
“I think the biggest thing when you come from circuit racing, you try and correct everything,” Button explained.
“So you try and correct oversteer with the steering and that’s obviously not what you do on the dirt because you want to continue the slide and get the car turned for the apex to get on the power for the exit.
“It’s been really fun with Nate, learning about that and how much speed you can actually carry in and how sideways… it feels like you’re going backwards by the time you get to the apex, which is great fun! So I’m at the point where I’m massively sideways everywhere just because it’s so much fun, but it’s probably not the quickest way right now, but we’re going to build on that.
“But Nate’s been great instructing and also sitting alongside him, which I don’t do very often because I don’t like being a passenger, but I trust him even though I don’t know the guy, he knows what he’s doing.
“It’s been really good, but hopefully this won’t be the only day I spend here. I’ve got my Extreme E testing next week and then hopefully I’ll be back.”