Button: It’s going to be hugely emotional

Jenson Button admitted he is braced for a “hugely emotional” weekend ahead of what could be the last race of his world championship-winning Formula 1 career.

Button, who will not be racing in the sport next season, brings to an end a run of 17 consecutive seasons of grand prix racing in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The 36-year-old will take up an ambassadorial role for McLaren next year with the British team’s highly-rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne partnering Fernando Alonso.


McLaren has an option for Button, who has competed in more than 300 grands prix, to return to their race set-up in 2018, but it is one which is largely viewed as an insurance policy should Alonso walk away from the British constructor.

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend, and have been for a few races now,” said Button, who began his career as a 20-year-old for Williams at the turn of the century.

“It marks a very special chapter in my life and I’ll have my friends and some of my family out in Abu Dhabi with me which I’m very excited about.

“It’s going to be a hugely emotional weekend and I hope with the support of the fans, the team and the people that are closest to me, we can go out there and give it our absolute maximum and enjoy the weekend.”

Button will still attend some of the grands prix in 2017 as back-up to Vandoorne and Alonso, but his definitive plans are unclear.

He has been earmarked as a pundit, while he stressed he is keen to take part in more triathlons. A career in rallycross, one pursued by his late father John Button, is also be an option.

The Englishman won the championship with Brawn GP back in 2009 before a lucrative move to McLaren followed. He beat Lewis Hamilton on points in the three years in which they were paired together.

But while his career there began in spectacular fashion – he won in only his second appearance for McLaren – the British team have fallen down the grid in recent times.

Button, who finished last at the recent Brazilian Grand Prix, has not won a race, nor stepped on the podium, in four years.

“It’s not the end of my career with McLaren-Honda, but it’s the start of a new phase that I’m incredibly positive about,” Button added.

“This race marks the culmination of a huge amount of hard work, dedication and passion for the sport that I love and I’m immensely proud of everything I’ve achieved in the past 17 seasons, and the fantastic progress we’ve made over the past couple of years with McLaren-Honda.

“It’s been an amazing project to work on and my involvement certainly won’t end here. I’m looking forward to concluding this chapter in style and starting a new one with just as much enthusiasm, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”