Current F1 points leader Jenson Button has been confirmed as the latest driver to sign up for the 2009 running of the Race of Champions, being held this year in the Chinese city of Beijing.
The traditional end of season event will take place on 3-4 November – straight after the final round of the F1 campaign in Abu Dhabi – in the famed Bird's Nest stadium, which was constructed for the Olympic Games last year.
Button's confirmation will ensure that his current battle with Red Bull Racing driver Sebastian Vettel will go on beyond the final Grand Prix of the year, with Vettel having already been confirmed alongside Michael Schumacher in the German team.
"It's always a great event, it's great for the fans but it's especially good for all of us competitors," Button, who contested the event in 2007 and 2008 on home soil at Wembley, said. “It's pretty intense; it's great to have so many different competitors from around the world. Really it's a great end-of-season event to just chill out and enjoy yourself.
“I'm looking forward to this year because the Bird's Nest is pretty amazing. It's going to be a lot bigger than before because there is a running track around the stadium, so it's going to be a lot of fun.”
However, Button did concede that, if the F1 season ends in success, he couldn't guarantee being at his best once the celebrations have died down.
"If I finish [the championship] how I want to finish it, I don't think I'll be in great shape for the Race of Champions,” he said. “I'll go along, but I don't think I'll be much use!"
With two of the top F1 drivers this season now confirmed for the event, event organiser Fredrik Johnsson said he was pleased with the way the field was shaping up.
“Jenson has been a great competitor in The Race of Champions over the past two years, and it's been fantastic to see him leading the way in Formula 1 this year,” he said. “With him and Sebastian Vettel already confirmed we have two of the leading drivers in this year's championship, and whoever wins the title, they'll be able to have one last battle at the end of the season.”