Jenson Button to step down from McLaren F1 race seat in 2017

Jenson Button will step down from Formula 1 racing in 2017 and be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne, but will stay with McLaren as an ambassador and reserve

Jenson Button to step down from McLaren F1 race seat in 2017

In an announcement chairman Ron Dennis insisted should not be interpreted as 'retirement', McLaren said Button would take a sabbatical next year but continue working with the team.

He has the option to return to racing in 2018 should Fernando Alonso choose to retire or leave at the end of his current deal.

Button's situation had been a key factor in the 2017 driver market, with runaway '15 GP2 champion and long-time McLaren protege Vandoorne tipped for a race seat and suggestions Button might return to his first F1 team Williams should he be replaced.

He said the deal he had reached with McLaren suited him perfectly after reflecting on his future during the August break.

Jenson Button on his Formula 1 career

"I will stay current, I will train my arse off like you've never seen before and I'll also be doing a lot of races making sure that everything is on right track and giving as much input as I can," said Button.

"I'll also be doing a lot of stuff that I haven't done for 17 years, I'll be living on my schedule, I'll get up when I want, I'll do what I want for most of the days of the year, I'll spend more time with my friends and, more importantly, my family.

"This is something that really works for me, and Im so happy that we've come to this agreement to work together over the next two years.

"I will do everything I can to make sure this team is as good as it possibly can be in 2017."

Jenson Button's greatest F1 drives

Dennis emphasised that a return to racing for Button was a real possibility.

Previous drivers who announced sabbaticals, including McLaren's 1998/99 world champion Mika Hakkinen in 2001, never returned.

"Other drivers [who took sabbaticals] never had a contract, they went away and they came back but they never had a contract like this one.

"Jenson's more than capable of winning grands prix and winning world championships, but it's not the physical, it's the mental side.

"It's not a lack of determination to win, but just the constant grind of being in F1.

"Jenson can get his mind balanced and re-established and relaxed and then look at the future.

"It's a creative contract that works for both of us, a perfect solution for the circumstances within our team at the moment."

Button has raced in F1 since 2000, when he made his debut with Williams for only his third full year of car racing after seasons in British Formula Ford and Formula 3.

A difficult spell with Benetton/Renault was followed by a breakthrough period with the team he joined as BAR but became Honda and eventually Brawn - a story that ended with a fairytale 2009 title.

He then moved to McLaren and brought his tally of grand prix wins to 15.

Button's replacement Vandoorne dominated GP2 last year and made his F1 debut in place of the injured Alonso in Bahrain this season.

"I feel pretty awesome. Jenson is a great inspiration to any racing driver," said Vandoorne, who is racing in Super Formula in Japan this year.

"He's been a very bit part of this team and I'm very happy to see him continue with us, I know his experience will be incredibly valuable to us and we're going to have a successful time together.

Alonso described the deal as "very good news for the team".

"We will have Jenson in the team which is most important," he said.

"He's the best team-mate I've ever had in terms of performance and feedback and the car development was great with him.

"Stoffel will bring fresh ideas and we will push team to maximum but still have Jenson helping us."

shares
comments
Vettel: Mercedes 'in a world of their own' in Italian GP qualifying
Previous article

Vettel: Mercedes 'in a world of their own' in Italian GP qualifying

Next article

Max Verstappen row 'ridiculous' says Jacques Villeneuve

Max Verstappen row 'ridiculous' says Jacques Villeneuve
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination Plus

The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination

After a tooth and nail and, at times, toxic Formula 1 world championship scrap last year, Max Verstappen's march to a second consecutive title has been the exact opposite. But has he really changed in 2022? Here's a dive into what factors have played a crucial role, both inside the Verstappen camp and elsewhere, in the Dutch driver's domination

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward Plus

Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward

Lewis Hamilton’s words in a recent Vanity Fair interview define both his world-view and his approach to this season: one of perpetual struggle against adversity. As GP RACING explains, that’s what Lewis feeds off – and why, far from being down and nearly out, he’s using his unique skillset to spearhead Mercedes’ revival…

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight Plus

The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight

The pecking order in 2022's Formula 1 season may look pretty static as the season draws to a close, but the unique nature of the cost cap means that preparation for next season takes precedence. New developments are being pushed back to 2023 - which could mask the technical development war ongoing...

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars Plus

How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars

While Formula 1 drivers taking part in retro events can prove costly, as Charles Leclerc discovered at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, the Goodwood Revival could prove an interesting experiment for today's stars. As the event's own Tourist Trophy race proves it means serious business, a race for current F1 drivers feels as though it’s in line with where the event is currently at

Goodwood Revival
Sep 21, 2022