Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button split by just 0.03s in COTA Cup qualifying

Jamie Woodhouse
Jenson Button competing in NASCAR. United States, March 2023.

Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button competing in NASCAR. United States, March 2023.

2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button found himself extremely close to another former F1 champ Kimi Raikkonen as he made his NASCAR Cup Series qualifying debut in Austin.

Button has tried his hand at a range of different racing categories since his Formula 1 career came to an end, such as the World Endurance Championship, Super GT, DTM and Extreme E.

NASCAR though is a new one for the list with Button having signed up for three Cup Series events, the first of those with Rick Ware Racing being the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas, home of Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix.

Qualifying for the event took place on Saturday 25 March, where Button would record a P11 finish in the Group A session as he got his first feel for NASCAR qualifying action. He will start the race from P24.

Meanwhile in the other group it was ‘The Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen in action, who returns to NASCAR with Trackhouse Racing following a one-off outing at Watkins Glen last season.

Raikkonen would finish P12 in his group and will start the race from P22.

It was almost fitting though how these former World Champions were separated by so little, with Raikkonen’s time of a 132.526 just 0.033s faster than Button’s on his Cup Series qualifying debut.

Raikkonen’s average speed of 92.631mph was also just a fraction higher than Button’s 92.608. recommends

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Still, at least this time Button was able to start the car correctly, as he had struggled to do at the start of practice in Austin.

“[I was] a little bit anxious but excited at the same time,” he said after practice.

“I forgot how to start the car, which was interesting. So they pushed the car back, and I’m like ‘It won’t start’.

“There were a few other switches I had to put up. But then it was okay.”