End of an era

Jenson Button 'not retiring' but will take a 'break' from Formula 1 next year

The 36-year-old became world champion in 2009 but won’t be driving for McClaren next year.

YOUNG BELGIAN STOFFEL VANDOORNE will replace Jenson Button as a lead driver with McLaren during the 2017 season, the British veteran said.

Button, 36, is not retiring but said he will be taking a “break” next year.

McLaren followed up the 2009 world champion’s announcement by saying they would employ a three-driver strategy next season, with Button signing a two-year contract extension in an “innovative role”.

“To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018,” said Button.

“I intend to work hard on car-development and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point. I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team.”

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He added: “Specifically, I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver.

“I love McLaren-Honda. I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with and I have no intention of driving for another team.”

Button had been heavily linked with a return to Williams, where he started his career in 2000, following Brazilian Felipe Massa’s announcement on Thursday that he plans to retire at the end of this year.

He is the third most experienced driver in F1 history with 297 Grand Prix starts –  only Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and German Michael Schumacher have made more.

The Briton has won 14 GP races.

Vandoorne, 24, will partner two-time world champion Fernando Alonso on race days next season.

© AFP 2016

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