Button withdraws from Le Mans


Stoffel Vandoorne will complete SMP Racing's line-up for the two upcoming rounds of the World Endurance Championship. The Belgian will drive the Russian BR1 #11 prototype alongside Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin at Spa-Francorchamps and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, replacing Jenson Button who has withdrawn from the legendary event.

Brendon Hartley who was earlier announced to race with SMP at Spa has other commitments during the Le Mans race week and has agreed to give way to Vandoorne in order to let him and the team be better prepared for the 24 hour race in June.

"I decided to withdraw from the Le Mans race," said Button. "I really enjoyed driving for SMP Racing and was happy to be on the podium with this team, but I decided that now I need to spend more time at home with my fiance during her pregnancy rather than two weeks at Le Mans.

"The decision has been made easier for me as I feel that the Toyota is currently unbeatable," he added.

"I am very pleased to join SMP Racing in my home race in Spa-Francorchamps and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans," said Vandoorne. "The LMP1 cars are really demanding and their performances are very close to Formula 1.

"I will have the opportunity to re-join ART Grand Prix and a lot of people that I've been working with during my successful campaign in GP2. Also, itīs great to work alongside such experienced drivers as Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin.

"My objective is to contribute to the team's performance and work in collaboration with all drivers to develop the BR1 prototype and to make a good impression."

27-year-old Vandoorne is a multiple winner of various formula championships. He won the Formula Renault 2.0 European Cup in 2012, was runner-up in the World Series by Renault 3.5 in 2013 and won the GP2 title in 2015.

Between 2016 and 2018 he contested the Formula 1 World Championship as part of the McLaren team, while in 2019, he took up a simulator driver role with the Mercedes F1 team alongside his HWA Racelab Formula E racing programme, scoring his first podium finish in the recent Rome ePrix.

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Published: 20/04/2019
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