Lewis Hamilton has paid his best wishes to Jenson Button for the future after learning of his new two-year deal with McLaren which will see him step out of a race seat for the 2017 season.
The Mercedes driver, who was team-mates with Button while at McLaren between 2010-2012, has hailed his rival's achievements in F1 as well as his longevity as he prepares for a sabbatical from the sport at the end of the season.
Button replaced by Vandoorne in McLaren's 2017 driver line-up
Button will make way for Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren-Honda driver line-up next year but has retained the option of an F1 return in 2018 which is unlikely to be confirmed until late next year depending on Fernando Alonso's contract situation.
“Jenson's been an extraordinary British champion,” Hamilton said. “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.
“We were joking in the drivers' briefing the other day. 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.”
With Button dropping off the F1 grid for 2017 and Jolyon Palmer's Renault race seat in doubt, Hamilton could become the sole British representation in the sport for next season.
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