Jenson Button might be enjoying his sabbatical from Formula One, but he’s still thinking of ways the sport can be improved.
Sunday marked the start of the Formula One season, and the first time in more than 15 years that Jenson Button wasn’t in the paddock at Albert Park Circuit. That’s because the 2009 F1 world champion spent the weekend hanging out with Jimmie Johnson at Auto Club Speedway for the NASCAR Auto Club 400.
Button posted a picture on Instagram of him and his friends standing in front of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet on the grid just prior to the start of Sunday’s race at Fontana. For NASCAR fans that might not seem like a big deal, but for those who follow F1, that type of access is almost unheard of — and Button thinks that needs to change.
Well that's new for me, being able to get my buddies on to pit lane! Really nice to see that the fans are properly part of the atmosphere pre and post race at Nascar, Cheers @jimmiejohnson for sorting us out. #libertymedia I'm sure will be bringing this atmosphere and fan involvement to @f1 as there's always room for improvement even at the pinnacle of motorsport. @nascar @f1 #fans #racing
This isn’t the first time drivers have suggested F1 could learn a lot about fan engagement from NASCAR. Button’s former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton made a similar comment after he attended what was supposed to be his friend Jeff Gorden’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hamilton echoed his thoughts in a September interview with Austin Way Magazine, when he said, “We have a lot to learn from the Americans.”
However, Button was smart enough to use #LibertyMedia in his post, so F1’s new owners almost certainly will see it. Considering Liberty already said it wants to build up the show around race weekends — as Circuit of the Americas did for last year’s U.S. Grand Prix — we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s open to giving fans more access as well.
Thumbnail photo via Instagram/@jensonbutton_22