Date: 7th September 2016 at 8:01am
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Felipe Massa was not the only driver in Italy to declare he wouldn’t be participating in Formula One in 2017.

But whilst the Brazilian announced his retirement, 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button announced that he was to take a sabbatical.

The British driver had been heavily linked with a move to Williams for 2017, returning to the team where he had made his debut in Formula One 16 years ago.

This was before Massa had announced his retirement, so just as the rumour mill may have kicked into over drive, Button and McLaren Honda announced that he had actually signed a new two-year-deal with the team.

However his new role is of ambassador, where he will be a part of the simulator programme and will remain on stand-by as a reserve driver.

McLaren hold an option on Button for the 2018 season which could see him replace Fernando Alonso if the two-time Formula One champion opts to leave at the end of his current three-year deal.

‘I’ve lived and breathed F1 since I was 19 years old, and I’m 36 now. You go to grands prix on the weekend and everything else is either recovery or preparation for a grand prix. I came to a decision that I wanted to initiate talks with Ron in Spa, which we did.

‘Next year I will be an ambassador for this team. I will work with this team in every way I can to make it a better team for the future.
Button told motorsport.com.

He added: ‘So, ’17 will be that, and in 2018 the team have an option on me to race for McLaren Honda. Which is pretty awesome. Obviously it’s a long way in the future.

With Jenson Button stepping aside for 2017, huge prospect Stoffel Vandoorne will get the chance to race alongside Fernando Alonso.

But with the Spaniard’s future with McLaren Honda still undecided, Button could yet make a return to the sport.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said: ‘To avoid any confusion, forget the word retirement, that is not in the vocabulary, that isn’t what we’re saying, Jenson is one of the team’s drivers for the next two years. If Jenson’s needed to drive next year for any reason, he will drive.

‘There’s no reason why he shouldn’t come back and race in 2018,’

 

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