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  1. ITV Report

Jenson Button announces 'sabbatical' from racing

Formula One star Jenson Button has announced he will not be racing next season.

After years of speculation Button, from Frome, says he will be taking a break from the sport - but will remain on the team as an ambassador and reserve driver with McLaren.

Formula One star Jenson Button from Frome, has announced he will be taking a break from Formula One. Credit: David Davies/PA

The 36-year-old made the decision to take a sabbatical during the summer, but has denied rumours he is retiring completely.

There are many things I want to do that I haven't been able to do because of the Formula One schedule.

You are not just a racing driver when you drive in F1 - this is your life - and I definitely need a break from that in 2017.

So, 2017 will be that and in 2018 the team have an option on me to race for McLaren-Honda which is pretty awesome.'

For a driver that's been in the sport for so long, achieving what I've achieved, winning a world championship, winning many grands prix and podiums, it really is a dream to have that rest, and the possibility of racing in the future.

– Jenson Button
Jenson Button takes a selfie with Felipe Massa on the drivers parade Credit: XPB/Press Association

The McLaren driver, who won the world championship in 2009, has competed in every grand prix season since the turn of the century.

But following a career which has yielded nearly 300 starts, 15 victories and 50 podiums, Button announced on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix that he will not participate in the sport in a full-time capacity next year.

300
the number of starts Button has made in his Formula One career.
50
Podium places
17
the number of seasons of Formula One Button has competed in
Jenson Button celebrates with the Brawn GP crew as they celebrate winning the constructors and driver's championship titles at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2009 Credit: Martin Rickett/PA

Button, will be replaced by McLaren's highly-rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

But the Somerset driver could yet return to the grid in 2018 after revealing McLaren has an option to put him back in the car.

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, who flanked Button as he made the announcement from inside the team's motorhome on Saturday night, was keen to stress Button's latest move should not be viewed as his retirement.

Forget the word retirement. That is not in the vocabulary and that is not what we are saying.

Jenson is one of the team's drivers for the next two years. If Jenson is needed to drive next year for any reason he can.

– Ron Dennis, McLaren chairman
Credit: XPB/Press Association

Button will still attend some of the grands prix in 2017 as back-up to Vandoorne, the 24-year-old Belgian, and Fernando Alonso.

It's thought, if Button doesn't return to racing he could become either a pundit, take up a career in rallycross - one pursued by his late father - or even switch disciplines and train for triathlons.

BUTTON'S CAREER:

  • Button began his career at Williams in 2000 before spells with Renault, BAR and then Honda.
  • When the Japanese manufacturer quit the sport at the end of 2008 Button was left without a team, but a consortium took over at the eleventh hour - headed by Ross Brawn.
  • In 2009 Button went on to claim the world title.
  • In 2010 he moved to McLaren where he beat Lewis Hamilton on points in the three years in which they were paired together.
Credit: XPB/Press Association