BUT­TON BYE BYE

BRIT SEALS GOLDEN HAND­SHAKE FROM MCLAREN JEN­SON TO BE­COME TEST DRIVER AND CON­SUL­TANT HOT SHOT VAN­DOORNE JOINS ALONSO FOR 2017 RAC­ING NEXT YEAR NOT A PRI­OR­ITY FOR HERO

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By Rob Lad­brook But­ton bows out, p2

Jen­son But­ton will not race in For­mula 1 next sea­son af­ter the Bri­ton con­firmed he will take a sab­bat­i­cal from the sport.

But­ton has signed a new two-year deal with Mclaren-honda, but will step back from its race line-up to al­low the team’s young Bel­gian pro­tege Stof­fel Van­doorne to part­ner Fer­nando Alonso.

But­ton, 36, will con­tinue as the team’s re­serve driver, and could re­join the grid in 2018 as a full-time racer.

But­ton has op­tions to com­pete else­where, but said: “I’m not think­ing much be­yond the rest of this sea­son.”

Jen­son But­ton is un­sure of whether he will race at all next sea­son af­ter con­firm­ing his sab­bat­i­cal from For­mula 1 dur­ing last week­end’s Ital­ian Grand Prix.

The 36-year-old Brit con­firmed that he would step back from Mclaren-honda’s race driver lineup for the 2017 sea­son to make way for ris­ing star Stof­fel Van­doorne to part­ner Fer­nando Alonso.

How­ever, But­ton will re­main a part of the Mclaren-honda team for the next two years af­ter sign­ing a fresh two-year con­tract to stay on as third driver, con­duct­ing test and devel­op­ment work on the new-gen­er­a­tion 2017 cars. But­ton will not at­tend ev­ery grand prix of the sea­son.

The deal means But­ton will be free to pur­sue other rac­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing 2017 should he wish to. But­ton has been linked with moves into the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship and World Ral­ly­cross, but the Frome man said se­cur­ing a race deal else­where wasn’t his pri­or­ity.

“Dur­ing the sum­mer break I had an awe­some time with friends and fam­ily, liv­ing on my own sched­ule, which is some­thing I’ve not done for 17 years,” said But­ton. “I’ve lived and breathed F1 since I was 19. You go to ev­ery grand prix and ev­ery­thing else is ei­ther re­cov­ery or prepa­ra­tion for the next one. You are not just a rac­ing driver when you drive in F1, this be­comes your life and I def­i­nitely need a break from that in 2017.

“For a driver that’s been in the sport for so long and achieved what I’ve achieved, win­ning the world cham­pi­onship [in 2009], it re­ally is a dream to be able to have that rest and still have the pos­si­bil­ity of rac­ing in the fu­ture. There is a pos­si­bil­ity of me rac­ing next year. But at the mo­ment I’m not think­ing about any­thing other than rest. There are many things I’d like to do, but this deal is ex­cit­ing as it gives me a chance to live my life as an adult and see where it takes me in the fu­ture.”

Not re­tire­ment

Both But­ton and Mclaren-honda were keen to point out that But­ton’s with­drawal from its race line-up does not spell the 298-time grand prix starter’s re­tire­ment from the sport.

Within But­ton’s new deal there is a clause to give Mclaren-honda the op­tion to call him back up to a full-time race seat for 2018, should both par­ties agree. For next sea­son But­ton will con­cen­trate on devel­op­ment and be on standby to race should ei­ther Van­doorne or Alonso be un­able to.

Mclaren chief Ron Den­nis said: “To avoid any con­fu­sion for­get the word re­tire­ment – it’s not in the vo­cab­u­lary and it isn’t what we’re

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