Kimi Raikkonen ‘whacks’ Jenson Button on racing return; British racer pleads with team to ‘allow him to stop’ racing

Former F1 driver Jenson Button recently made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at the Circuit of the Americas, finishing 18th overall.

Button was joined by former Formula One rival Kimi Raikkonen, who came in at 29th place after a spin.

Jenson Button. Credit:
Jenson Button. Credit:

The former Mercedes driver, who hadn’t raced for three years, spoke about the challenges he faced during the race, including suffering from heat exhaustion which hampered his performance.

“I had to take a while to learn the racecraft, and I’ve never hit a car – intentionally – and then after the first stint, when I changed tyres, I was like, ‘Guys put me in clear air, I need some laps on my own’, and they did, they did a really good job on the pit stop and I was able to run clear,” he said.

“And then on the next stint I’d had a whack from Kimi [Raikkonen] and it just felt so oversteery, I just went backwards, and I also had heat exhaustion. I was like ‘guys, I have to stop’, it was that bad.”

Button also shared his thoughts on NASCAR’s combative racing system, admitting it took some time to get used to.

“You get to Turn 1 and everyone is in the way,” he said.

“People are braking later than me and they just hit a car and use that to slow down!

“That was the thing for me. It’s just, I have to say, I enjoyed the race, I’d say 60% of it; 40% of it kind of felt a bit silly, the amount that we were hitting each other.”

Kimi Raikkonen. Credit:
Kimi Raikkonen. Credit:

Meanwhile, Raikkonen attributed his fall down the order to tyre wear and the elongated race.

“In the end I just had no tyres left and it kept [wearing] after more restart and more restart. And with the spin that I had, the tyres were just done, but yeah, it’s a shame,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Button said he enjoyed the experience and praised the action in NASCAR.

“I mean the action’s amazing, don’t get me wrong, I have to give it to these guys. The first 10 laps, it just destroyed me… every time I was in a corner I had someone overtaking me,” he said.

Button’s move to NASCAR is not entirely surprising, given that he’s always been a fan of American motorsports.

Kimi Raikkonen. Credit:
Kimi Raikkonen. Credit:

He previously raced in the IndyCar series, and has also taken part in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

Overall, the NASCAR Cup Series debut was a learning experience for both Button and Raikkonen, and it will be interesting to see how they fare in future races.

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