Lewis Hamilton hails 'extraordinary' Jenson Button as he pauses F1

Lewis Hamilton has hailed Jenson Button's impact on Formula 1 in the wake of his fellow Briton announcing he is to take a sabbatical for 2017

Lewis Hamilton hails 'extraordinary' Jenson Button as he pauses F1

Button is to step down from his McLaren race seat at the end of the year, making way for team protege Stoffel Vandoorne to partner Fernando Alonso next season.

Button has signed a two-year ambassadorial deal with McLaren, with an option on the team's side for the 36-year-old to return in 2018.

Hamilton, who was team-mates with Button for three years at McLaren from 2010-12 before leaving to join Mercedes, said: "Jenson's been an extraordinary British champion.

"I remember watching him when he first got to Formula 1 on a weekend with my dad, eating bacon sarnies, watching Jenson doing what I was dreaming to do.

"He's done 17 years now, a long, long stint in this sport, but what he has given to it is fantastic."

Jenson Button on his Formula 1 career

Hamilton acknowledged it felt like a changing of the guard in F1, with young drivers such as 18-year-old Max Verstappen making their mark and Felipe Massa and Button - aged 35 and 36 respectively - stepping back.

"We were joking in the drivers' briefing the other day," added Hamilton.

"Max was sitting next to me, along with Jenson and Felipe, and Jenson told Max 'You were just one-year-old when I first got to Formula 1'. That was kind of crazy.

"But Jenson is still young, still healthy, still fit, so I wish him all the best for the future."

HAMILTON VS BUTTON AT McLAREN

Though Button joined McLaren as reigning world champion in 2010 after his shock success with Brawn, many expected him to struggle against incumbent Hamilton given how well established the younger Briton was at the team.

But instead Button took McLaren's first two wins of 2010, thriving in mixed conditions in Australia and China.

Hamilton eventually got his season going and ended up McLaren's main title contender, though Button still had a shot until the penultimate race.

Then in 2011, as Hamilton endured one of his messiest F1 campaigns, Button led the way for McLaren and ended up second in the standings to Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton moved back ahead the following year and headed for Mercedes with comfortably the better qualifying record in his intra-team battle with Button, but having been outscored over their their years together.

2010-12 championship positions
Button: 5th - 2nd - 5th
Hamilton: 4th - 5th - 4th

Wins
Hamilton: 10
Button: 8

Poles
Hamilton: 9
Button: 1

Points
Button: 672
Hamilton: 657

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