Since confirming he would be taking a sabbatical from the sport in 2017 back in September, Jenson Button has insisted that he is not retiring from F1, however in today’s driver press conference his comments alluded to the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being his last.
The Brit will step down from the driving seat at the end of 2016, to make way for highly-rated driver Stoffel Vandoorne, and will instead take on an advisory/ambassador role with the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team, with an option to drive again for the Woking based squad in 2018, should both parties wish to pursue that avenue.
Button had previously stated that this is most definitely not the end of his time in F1, however in the press conference today, the 2009 world champion appears to have had a change of heart.
“I go into this weekend thinking it is going to be my last race, that is the best way to be at this moment of time. Beyond this, I don’t want to be racing in F1 – that is the whole idea. I think of this as my last race and hopefully everyone else does.
“I am just going into this race thinking it is my last, I don’t want to go in thinking it isn’t my last and it is my last. It is true I have a contract for 2018 but at this moment in time I am not going to be racing in 2018.
“The whole idea about having a contract is that in three months’ time, when I have eaten myself stupid and am thinking of things to do in the future, maybe I’ll realise I need F1 back in my life, but in this moment of time that isn’t the case – so this is my last race.
“That is how I think about it at the moment, but who knows this could change in six/eight months or one year.”
The Brit cannot be disappointed with what he has achieved in his seventeen-year long career in the sport, and would bow out having won a world championship, taken fifteen victories and secured fifty podiums, no mean feat by anyone’s standards and a record Button is immensely proud of.
“It has been a long journey since eight years old until now. I have been racing in motorsport, and everything before F1 was work to try to get to F1, and you get to F1 with many dreams and aspire to be something and hopefully leave the sport with memories.
“That is something I do have from 17 years racing in F1, lots of memories, life-changing memories, and to walk away with the championship is a special feeling as well.
“I raced for two teams I dreamed of racing as a kid, Williams and McLaren, and when I won the championship it was with a privateer team which is very special.
“There are so many memories I can’t put them all out on the table right, now. I will definitely step away from F1 happy with what I achieved and knowing my life does start now.”
In a recent interview with the Formula One Website, Button expressed his desire to compete in other motorsport series at some point in the future, so if the Brit is to call time on his career in F1, there will hopefully be plenty of other opportunities for his many fans to still catch him in action.
“I would love to race in Le Mans. Rallycross is also on my to-do list – eventually. There are so many things that I want to do.”
Button has already been linked to potential drives in the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship including an option that would see him driving for Honda.