Head of Honda‘s F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa is looking forward to working more closely with driver Jenson Button in 2017, now that the Brit has confirmed he will be taking a one year sabbatical next year and is stepping down from his race seat, but will remain on as an Ambassador for the McLaren-Honda F1 team.
The 2009 world champion has strong ties with the Japanese manufacturer having driven for the Honda powered BAR F1 team, before driving for Honda themselves when they were a constructor from 2005 – 2008, before being bought out by Brawn GP – who the Japanese company assisted financially and Button went on to win his world championship with.
The Brit is particularly popular in Japan because of this and his former relationship with Japanese-Argentinian fashion model Jessica Michibata. Button has many fans in the East Asian country, including Hasegawa himself who has always admired the 36-year-old.
Speaking to f1i.com recently, the Honda F1 boss expressed his excitement at getting the chance to work alongside Button and being able to really pick his brains, and feels the Brits input and insight will be a huge bonus to the teams development.
“For Honda, Jenson is a very special driver. I was working with him more than eight years, and Jenson has so many Japanese fans. But one day, we have to accept he’s not racing.
“[Monza] was not retirement. Next year we have to accept he’s not the regular driver, but I’m very happy still we can have a connection with Jenson and we expect to have more chance to work with him not only at the race, on development and marketing. We can utilise Jenson much more than this year.”