Brendon Hartley will replace Jenson Button in the two upcoming races of the World Endurance Championship driving the Russian BR1 ¹11 prototype of SMP Racing.Brendon will perform in Sebring (USA) and Spa (Belgium) alongside Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. Jenson Button will complete the SMP Racing line-up of the 24-hour marathon in Le Mans.
Boris Rotenberg, SMP Racing founder and leader said: “We welcome Brendon as part of our line-up in the World Endurance Championship. He is a very strong driver, with extensive experience: he won the World Endurance Championship twice, became the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We are sure that our joint team will make a great contribution to the future victories. I think it will be interesting for Brendon to drive behind the wheel of our new Russian sport prototype BR1 and compete with rivals in the highest class LMP1.”
Brendon Hartley added: “I’m very pleased to join SMP Racing for the next two WEC races at Sebring and Spa. The team have all the tools and a great driver roster so I think we have a big opportunity to fight for podiums. It marks my return to the WEC and I’m really looking forward to being back in the paddock amongst many familiar faces.”
SMP Racing driver Mikhail Aleshin said: “We are pleased to welcome Brendon to SMP Racing. I think Hartley will be a great addition to our team. He is an experienced driver, took part in different types of competitions. Brendon successfully performed in the junior series, and I believe that his potential was fully revealed during endurance races where he was the winner in the overall standings. I think his participation in Formula 1 is also certainly a positive fact, for us as well, because it means that a very experienced driver joins our team."
Ex-Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov added: “This is great news for the entire SMP Racing team. Brendon has a lot of experience and many victories in the World Endurance Championship and in the Le Mans 24-hour marathon. He drove for the Porsche team, worked with strong drivers. That’s why I think he will be able to share some interesting ideas with us that we can add to the development of our BR1 prototype. Brendon, welcome to SMP Racing."
Ex-Formula 1 driver Sergey Sirotkin also commented: “I want to welcome Brendon Hartley, who joined our SMP Racing team. I have known Brendon for quite a long time, we get along well and he is an excellent driver who will certainly benefit our team.”
29-year-old New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley is a two-time FIA WEC champion in LMP1 class (2015 and 2017), the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2017), the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion (2007). Brendon also became the winner of various European and New Zealand formula series, since 2008 he was a reserve and test driver of Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and Mercedes teams in Formula 1. In 2017-2018, Hartley took part in Formula 1 as part of the Toro Rosso team.
Calendar of the upcoming races of the FIA WEC Super Season 2018-2019:March 17, 2019 – 1000 miles of Sebring (USA)
May 4, 2019 – 6 hours of Spa (Belgium)
June 16, 2019 – 24 Hours of Le Mans (France).