When Button swapped F1 for rallycross

When Button swapped F1 for rallycross

Jenson Button is known as F1's smoothest driver. ROBERT HOLMES watched him pay tribute to his family's history in a 600bhp rallycross Beetle in a sideways fashion

The scene is one of Stygian murk: gloomy skies, lashing rain, mud. But no matter, for the Kent countryside is cheered by the rorty rumble of a hopped-up flat-four engine, and the gale brings a tinge of hyperactive hydrocarbons. Today Jenson Button's personal and professional lives come full circle in more ways than one.

Not only is Jenson sliding behind the wheel of a monster Volkswagen Beetle rallycross car similar to the one in which his father campaigned during the 1970s, but we also find ourselves at the Lydden Hill rallycross circuit in Kent, a frequent John Button stamping ground back in the day, later bought by Jenson's McLaren team with a view to developing it into their equivalent of Ferrari's Fiorano test track.

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