Jenson Button has paid tribute to fans that have supported him from being a 'spotty teenager' to a Formula 1 world champion as he brought the curtain on what he admits is likely to be his final race in F1.
Officially, Button will take a sabbatical from F1 next year as he looks to take time out from the sport and try his hand at other racing series', but he admitted more than once over the Abu Dhabi weekend that he was treating it as his final outing in an F1 car.
With suspension failure ending his 'swansong' after just 12 laps, it was a disappointing conclusion to his 305th race but Button says he has no regrets.
“People will go 'Oh it's so sad that Jenson didn't get to end on a high' but it's not. I'm happy, I'm content and I had a fantastic career in F1 so thank you so much for that support.”
Coming almost 17 years after he made his F1 debut with Williams, Button says he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received during a 'rollercoaster' of a career.
“A massive thank you for your support since 2000 when I was a baby at 20 years old. I've had so many messages of support on social media saying they've watched me since I was a spotty teenager when I was 19 and thank you so much for the support.
“It's been a rollercoaster ride obviously through the years!”
Button – who will be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren-Honda team next season – made his F1 debut in 2000 with Williams BMW, the then 20 year-old making the leap from British F3 after winning a 'shootout' F1 test against Bruno Junqueira.
After an impressive season that belied his experience, Button switched to Benetton and remained as it morphed into Renault for 2002, before switching to BAR and latterly Honda. Winning his first race in 2006, Button became champion in 2009 with the privateer BrawnGP team before moving to McLaren, where he would remain until 2016.
In 305 starts, Button won 15 races, 50 podiums and 8 pole positions.