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Jenson Button: McLaren driver to retire from F1 after Abu Dhabi GP -RocketNews

Former world champion Jenson Button says he will retire from Formula 1 after Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was set to have a sabbatical in 2017 with the team holding an option on him for 2018.

However, the 36-year-old Briton told the drivers’ news conference: “I go into this weekend thinking it’s going to be my last race. I think that’s the best way.

“At this moment in time, I don’t want to be racing in F1 beyond this year.”

Button, who won the world title in 2009, made his F1 debut at the age of 20 in 2000.

Sunday’s race will be his 305th grand prix start, with only Rubens Barrichello (322) and Michael Schumacher (306) having more.

He has won 15 F1 races, having driven for Williams, Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn and McLaren.

Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne is replacing Button at McLaren next year as team-mate to two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, whose contract runs out at the end of 2017, with Button acting as an ambassador for the 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 for 2018] was if in three months’ time I had eaten myself stupid and I changed my mind.

“But I don’t want to go into this race thinking it’s not my last race and it is.”

Under his contract for 2017 with McLaren, Button is due to be their team’s reserve driver and would race if either Alonso or Vandoorne are unable to for any reason.

He will do promotional work for McLaren and some work in the simulator and attend a minimum of four grands prix.

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

“You get to Formula 1 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 and I will definitely step away from F1 happy with what I’ve achieved and definitely my life starts now.”

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