British Formula 1 greats Jenson Button and David Coulthard have joined the line-up of driving stars who will compete at the first Race Of Champions on American soil – inside Miami's new baseball stadium Marlins Park on January 21-22, 2017.
Button has competed in over 300 Formula 1 grands prix since his 2000 debut, with 50 podium finishes and 15 wins to his name. But the undoubted highlight was his mighty 2009, when he soared to the world championship after a dominant year for Brawn GP. Having raced for McLaren-Honda in recent seasons, Button is scheduled to take a sabbatical from F1 in 2017 – but that won't stop him racing at ROC Miami.
The Englishman has made five previous Race Of Champions appearances. He has a strong record – notably in 2009 in Beijing when he reached the individual semi-finals and reached the ROC Nations Cup final alongside Andy Priaulx, only to lose to Team Germany's Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel (pictured below). Button will now be keen to collect even more silverware next January.
Button said: "I'm delighted to be coming back to the Race Of Champions once again. It is always a great event with a special atmosphere. You get to race against the best drivers from all over the world and we enjoy our time both on and off the track as we meet old friends from all the different motor sport series.
"The main thing is that everyone wants to put on a good show for the fans – and we only pretend to play it cool before giving it everything when we're revving up the cars on the line. I urge race fans to get themselves to Miami in January to enjoy the action up close and personal and to give us a cheer."
David Coulthard also enjoyed a fine Formula 1 career, taking 13 grand prix wins and finishing in the world championship top three no less than five times in over a decade at the top. He later spent three years in Germany's DTM championship before retiring to focus on other interests including his role as a television commentator.
In 2014 the Scotsman saw off a mighty field of motor sport greats in Barbados to win the overall ROC Champion of Champions crown for the first time. He also reached the Race Of Champions Grand Final in 2008, losing by the narrowest margin to rally legend Sebastien Loeb at London's Wembley Stadium.
Coulthard said: "I'm delighted to be coming back to the Race Of Champions. I was proud to win it a couple of years ago, beating off drivers who I'll admit are younger and more talented than me! But that's the nature of the knockout system. You also get a chance to compare your driving with a wide range of different drivers from all over the world in a lot of different vehicles, while having fun out of the car.
"The Race Of Champions is even better for race fans. The stadium environment is what makes it special: you look down on the cars from the grandstands so it gives you a view you wouldn't get in many venues. If anyone wants to remember why they enjoy motor sport, they should come along. Look forward to seeing you in Miami."
Button and Coulthard join a star-studded ROC Miami field that features many of the biggest names in world motor sport. Confirmed racers include four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, fellow F1 star Felipe Massa, ‘Mr Le Mans' Tom Kristensen, Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Alexander Rossi, action sports legend Travis Pastrana, rallycross greats Petter Solberg and Scott Speed plus NASCAR champion Kurt Busch. Even more big names will be announced in the run-up to January's event.
The Race Of Champions is an annual contest which has been held for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world's greatest drivers from motor sport's major disciplines – including Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, Le Mans, MotoGP, Touring Cars, World Rally and action sports – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery. All the racing takes place in a stunning range of superfast cars.
The ROC event is run over two days: first comes the Race Of Champions itself (on Saturday, January 21) featuring a flat-out battle for individual glory. Then on Sunday, January 22 comes the ROC Nations Cup when drivers pair up in teams based on nationality to bid for the title of ‘World's Fastest Nation'. In 2017, this will see America take on the rest of the world in a special contest in celebration of the host venue.
In recent years, ROC has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London's Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), the ‘Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Dusseldorf's Esprit Arena (2010-2011), the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012), Bushy Park Barbados (2014) and London's former Olympic Stadium (2015).
Now the event is heading to the United States for the first time to soak up the heat of Miami. Florida's sports fans will have a chance to watch the speediest action Marlins Park has ever seen as many of the world's greatest drivers push to the absolute limit on a specially-designed racing track winding its way around the infield and outfield.
But that's not all. The Race Of Champions has non-stop action from start to finish – featuring stunt shows on four wheels and two wheels plus DJs, cheerleaders and plenty of other entertainment to keep race fans on the edge of their seats.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: "It's brilliant to have Jenson and David back at the Race Of Champions in Miami next January. We are putting together an amazing line-up and these two British greats are guaranteed to be in the mix for silverware.
"Jenson has shown his skills at the sharp end during his 17-year career in Formula 1 while David proved he can still race with the best when he won the ROC Champion of Champions title in Barbados two years ago. Now we look forward to welcoming a packed crowd of race fans to Miami's Marlins Park next month to see these driving greats push to the limit once more."
Tickets for ROC Miami are now available via www.raceofchampions.com. For access to rights-free high-resolution imagery and to keep up with all the latest news ahead of this year's event please visit www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook plus @raceofchampions and #ROCMiami on Twitter.
Drivers already confirmed for ROC Miami:
Sebastian VETTEL, four-time Formula 1 world champion
Tom KRISTENSEN, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner
Petter SOLBERG, double FIA World Rallycross champion
Juan-Pablo MONTOYA, 2015 Indianapolis 500 winner
Ryan HUNTER-REAY, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner
Tony KANAAN, 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner
Felipe MASSA, 11-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
Kurt BUSCH, 2004 NASCAR champion
Travis PASTRANA, action sports legend
Scott SPEED, double Global Rallycross champion
Alexander ROSSI, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner
David COULTHARD, 13-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner
Jenson BUTTON, 2009 Formula 1 world champion