Jen­son But­ton’s fi­nale ends early with steer­ing fail­ure

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Jen­son But­ton’s For­mula One farewell ended in sad style when he re­tired early in the sea­son-end­ing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sun­day be­cause of a sus­pen­sion prob­lem.

But­ton has an op­tion to drive for the McLaren team in 2018, but he said be­fore this race that he does not ex­pect to come back.

“My race was short, but I loved ev­ery­thing else. I was re­ally emo­tional be­fore I got in the car,” But­ton said. “It was such a spe­cial at­mos­phere to have the whole team and all my friends and family cheer­ing me on my way into the garage. I’m just glad I was wear­ing my sun­glasses at that mo­ment.”

He was on lap 13 when some sparks flew off his car and he went straight on and cut over some grass be­fore get­ting back on track. The Bri­tish driver ap­peared to be strug­gling with a sus­pen­sion or a steer­ing is­sue.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a fail­ure like this,” a de­spon­dent But­ton said as his car limped back into the garage. “I’m just glad I was able to fig­ure it out be­fore I hit the brakes. It’s al­ways been a mas­sive strength of our team that com­po­nents so rarely fail, but to­day of all days some­thing did.”

But­ton, a hugely pop­u­lar fig­ure among fans and other driv­ers alike, stepped out and waved to the crowd one last time be­fore be­ing com­forted by me­chan­ics and his mother.

“I’m very con­tent with all I’ve achieved in my ca­reer,” But­ton said. “Now, it’s done.”

But­ton is mak­ing way for Bel­gian driver Stof­fel Van­doorne, who will part­ner two-time F1 cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso at McLaren next year while But­ton works in an ad­vi­sory role within the team.

“It’s a shame that Jen­son’s fi­nal race came to an early end, but he’ll still be around next year,” said Alonso, who fin­ished the race in 10th place. “He’ll be a huge as­set for us in his new role.”

The 36-year-old But­ton won the F1 ti­tle against the odds in 2009 for the Brawn team, and has 15 GP vic­to­ries over­all.

Af­ter com­pet­ing in his first F1 race at age 20, this race was his 305th GP start, putting him just one be­hind seven-time F1 cham­pion Michael Schu­macher of Ger­many.

“I’m hold­ing it to­gether,” an emo­tional But­ton said be­fore the race when the driv­ers were pa­raded around the track.

Un­for­tu­nately, he did not get the farewell he craved and a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure de­nied him one last check­ered flag.

McLaren driver Jen­son But­ton of Bri­tain talks to a TV crew af­ter he had to aban­don the Emi­rates For­mula One Grand Prix

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