Jenson Button will relinquish his drive at McLaren-Honda in 2017, with Stoffel Vandoorne being promoted to the race seat alongside Fernando Alonso.
Button’s tenure at McLaren will continue however in a different role, with the Briton playing back up as development driver and becoming an ambassador to McLaren, a team he first joined in 2010 after switching over from winning the championship with Brawn GP.
The promotion to the race seat for Vandoorne had been expected, but the move by Button to accept a different role within the team was not, with the Briton having been linked to the vacated drive at Williams Martini Racing after the announcement earlier this weekend from Felipe Massa that the Brazilian would retire at the end of the season.
“I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team,” said Button. “In fact I’m massively excited about my new role, which has come about as a result of a number of in-depth chats with Ron.
“Specifically, I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver.”
Button insists he is not retiring from Formula 1, and with the new deal covering both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, it could be that the Briton could return to driving duties once more should the situation present itself.
“I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with – and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team,” said Button.
“To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point.”