Jenson Button doesn’t expect a repeat of his short-lived spell in Extreme E when he makes his Nitro Rallycross debut later this year.
The 2009 Formula 1 world champion was set to race full-time in the all-electric off-road series but stepped aside after just one race.
Speaking to DirtFish at the end of the last year, Button said he “wasn’t really prepped well for it,” and that it was a “no-brainer” to put World Rallycross race winner Kevin Hansen in his place.
But this time, Button is aiming to stick around and says Nitro Rallycross’ closer alignment to more traditional racing will help him to adapt.
“This is definitely more [like] car racing,” he told DirtFish. “It’s low, the center of gravity’s low. The way that it moves around is a lot more predictable.
“The Extreme E cars are very tall, I struggled to get feeling from the car and obviously it’s on a course that’s forever changing and you’ve got massive bumps here and there that were a challenge for the Extreme E car.
“The tracks that are made for rallycross are made for the cars that race from them. I love the idea of Extreme E and that’s why I’ve got a team in it because I think it’s great fun just throwing cars out and seeing if they can handle it, but that’s definitely not for me.
“I need to be able to find my limit with things and holding back is something I’m not very good at, so I really did struggle.”
While Nitro RX and Extreme E are wildly different, Nitro is ‘extreme’ in its own way with big banks and jumps among the signature elements of the series. And while that’s something Button knows he’ll have to adapt to, its something he’s also relishing.
“I love the feeling of a rallycross car,” he said. “The jumps are definitely gonna be a shock to the system. I’ve done jumps in, in off-road before in Baja, massive jumps, but you know, suspension travel was also like three feet.
“But I think the biggest one is the gap jump. It’s the biggest jump you’ll ever do. Most of the time with jumps you build up to it, but with that, you can’t build up to it. So you have to do a [good] speed, or else you’ll have a big shunt. So I’m pretty good at just saying ‘right, I’m gonna do that speed, and we’ll see what happens’.
“I have no issue with that. It’s more the other jumps on the circuit to get a rhythm to be on the right line. And that’s something that obviously Travis [Pastrana] from his motocross background is very good at. So that’s gonna take the longest time to learn.
“Driving on Tarmac, that’s my strength, obviously, and that’s where I’ll be strong. And obviously there’s not a lot of Tarmac in Nitro, but the bits that will be Tarmac, I will be strong on.”