On the first day of Scrutineering at the Place de la Republique in the center of Le Mans, a lot of attention went the way of Jenson Button, who is here for the first time with SMP Racing in the No.11 BR1 AER in the premier LMP1 class.
Button headed through the town relaxed, and impressed by the scale of the occasion as he got close to the Le Mans fans for the first time.
“I think this [public access scrutineering] is a great tradition, it’s really awesome for the fans to get close to the cars, and to the drivers and to see the cars moving slowly by,” he told RACER.
“It’s a great way to get the fans closer to action as we move towards the race.”
Last weekend at the Test Day, Button got his first taste of driving the full Circuit de la Sarthe with the Russian-flagged LMP1 team. The former F1 world champion explained that the biggest surprise so far has been Mulsanne Corner, which is the slow hairpin at the end of the iconic Mulsanne Straight.
“Mulsanne definitely is the toughest part,” he said. “The first part of the circuit is very fast, not that tough to learn, but Mulsanne just draws you in. It’s huge braking at the end of the straight but just as you think you’ve done enough and release your brakes you feel like you are definitely going to run way too far on and end up in the gravel. That took awhile to get the hang of.
“Then there’s the Porsche Curves. They’re very quick but I think they will be relatively straightforward once you have confidence in the car underneath you.”
Scrutineering will continue tomorrow in front of the thousands of fans on hand, featuring most of the GTE Pro factory teams as well as the hot race favorites, Toyota Gazoo Racing crew, passing through the town ahead of the first track action, which is set to get underway on Wednesday.