Button prepares for ‘last race’

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ABU DHABI: Former world champion Jenson Button announced on Thursday that Sunday’s season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his last race in the sport.

The 36-year-old Briton, who has raced in more than 300 grands prix and won the 2009 World Championship with Brawn, had already announced he will take up an ambassadorial role with his current team McLaren next year.

“I go into this weekend thinking it’s my last race,” Button said at the press conference ahead of the race. “At this moment in time I don’t want to be racing in F1 beyond this race.”

McLaren previously announced that highly rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will replace Button as Fernando Alonso’s partner in 2017.

This file photo taken on October 09, 2016 shows McLaren Honda’s British driver Jenson Button waving as he rides in a classic Honda convertible during the drivers’ parade before the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. AFP PHOTO

This file photo taken on October 09, 2016 shows McLaren Honda’s British driver Jenson Button waving as he rides in a classic Honda convertible during the drivers’ parade before the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. AFP PHOTO

There is an option for Button to return to McLaren’s race set-up in 2018, but that is thought to be an insurance policy in case Alonso leaves the British team.

“It is true that I have a contract in 2018, but at this moment in time I am not going to be racing in 2018,” Button added. “The whole point of this [contract]was if in three months time I had eaten myself stupid and I changed my mind.”

Button started his F1 career with Williams, lining up in his first race at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix.

Following a spell with Benetton, he joined BAR in 2004 and won his first race with the team, now renamed Honda, at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

After Ross Brawn took over at Honda and renamed the team, Button surged to glory in the 2009 World Championship, with six early-season wins carrying him to victory above Sebastian Vettel. He subsequently joined McLaren in 2010, finishing second in 2011, and has been with the British team ever since.

“It’s been a long journey since eight years old until now,” Button said.

“You get to Formula One with many dreams and hopefully you leave the sport with memories — some amazing memories, some life-changing, some good, some bad.

“And also to walk away with the world championship is very special, too. Over 300 grands prix. I will definitely step away from F1 happy with what I’ve achieved and definitely my life starts now.”

AFP

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