F1 Champion Jenson Button to Make NASCAR Cup Debut at COTA

jenson button nascar rick ware racing
F1 Champion Jenson Button to Make NASCAR Cup DebutMobil 1

The NASCAR Cup Series race scheduled for March 26 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, will have two Formula 1 champions in the field.

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 champion, will be driving a Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing. The race will mark Button's Cup Series debut, and it will be one of three Cup Series races on his 2023 schedule. He also plans to race in the Chicago street-course race on July 2 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 13.

At COTA, Button will share the grid with 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen will be making his second career Cup start in that race, where he'll be racing as part of Trackhouse Racing's Project 91 effort.


Rick Ware Racing is receiving promotional support from Stewart-Haas Racing and Mobil 1 for Button's race effort at COTA.

Button, 43, won 15 F1 races in a career that spanned from 2000 through 2017. Since his retirement from that series, he's raced select races in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans. He is also scheduled to drive for NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR's Garage 56 entry at Le Mans this summer. At Le Mans, he'll team with Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller to drive a Hendrick Motorsports-prepared NASCAR Camaro ZL1.

“I won the world championship with Mobil 1, and 14 of my 15 wins in Formula 1 were with Mobil 1, as well as winning the Super GT championship with them. We’ve had a really close relationship over the years and I can’t think of a better partner,” Button said. “Mobil 1 has been a big part of making these NASCAR races happen for me, so I’m very thankful to them for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to working alongside the brand to get the best out of every race weekend.”

Button is tried with Michael Schumacher for fifth all-time in F1 with 306 career starts. His final F1 start was the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix when he subbed for Fernando Alonso, who skipped Monaco to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Button’s last full-time F1 season was 2016.

“Obviously, racing a Cup car is very different than what I’m used to," Button said. "It’s a lot heavier with a lot less power and, basically, no downforce. It’s got a sequential gearbox where you need to blip the throttle, so there’s lots of stuff to learn in a very short space of time.

“But I just get excited about that new challenge, and when I throw myself into something, I am 100 percent in. I’m not just doing it for fun in some one-off. I want to be competitive, and I know that to be competitive, it’s going to take a bit of time. That’s why doing these three races works very well this season.”

garage 56 test at daytona
Jenson Button’s 2023 race season will also include a trip to Le Mans, courtesy of NASCAR.James Gilbert - Getty Images

Button got his first feel of a NASCAR Cup car in a test session for the Garage 56 effort.

“The first time I jumped into the Garage 56 car, it was like, ‘What have I done?" Button said. "This is so different,’ and that lasted about four laps. Then it was like, ‘Hang on, it’s still a race car. It’s got four tires that touch the road. It’s a mechanical race car, which is even better for learning.’ I’ve really enjoyed the challenge."

“A Cup car has a lot less downforce and is a lot heavier, but the Garage 56 car has given me an idea of what it will be like along with a direction, which is really useful. I know in my first race I’m not expected to be qualifying right at the front and I’m not expected to be fighting for a victory. I have a lot of respect for the drivers racing in the Cup Series. There’s so much talent there, whether it’s on ovals or road courses.

“Ten years ago, people used to say NASCAR guys can’t drive around a circuit, but I think they’ve proven that they can. Every time an ex-F1 driver gets in a stock car these days, they struggle initially. It takes a while for them to get up to speed, so I don’t expect to be right at the front, straight away.

"That’s why, for me, doing more than one race is really key so I can get the best out of myself and the best out of the car.”