Jenson Button insists he is “definitely not retiring” and adds he has “no intention of ever driving for another F1 team”, after McLaren announces he will be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne in 2017.
In a statement released after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, McLaren said it will adopt an “innovative three-driver strategy” for the next two seasons, with Button signing a new two year deal that will see him continue to play an “active role” as “a key member of the team”.
Although the specifics remain somewhat sketchy, McLaren boss Ron Dennis revealed he will be “centrally involved in the development of the cars” and will be available to race “if circumstances require it,” effectively becoming a third/reserve driver - at least for 2017.
Button replaced by Vandoorne at McLaren for 2017
McLaren did not mention who will drive for the team in 2018, with Fernando Alonso's current three year deal set to expire at the end of next season.
“I'm delighted that I'll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team. In fact I'm massively excited about my new role, which has come about as a result of a number of in-depth chats with Ron. 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,” Button said after confirming he will take a sabbatical from racing in 2017.
Vandoorne honoured to get McLaren-Honda promotion
“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 ever driving for another F1 team.
“To be clear, I'm very definitely not retiring. I'm contracted for both 2017 and 2018, 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.”
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