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‘Sunday will be my last race’

Jenson Button celebrates winning the 2009 world championship

Jenson Button won the 2009 world championship with Brawn, the only year the team competed in F1

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

The McLaren driver was already not going to race in F1 in 2017, with the team holding an option on him for the 2018 campaign.

But speaking on Thursday, the 36-year-old Briton said: “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.”

  • ‘There were days Button was untouchable’

Button, world champion in 2009, made his 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 driven in more.

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

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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, Button is due to be McLaren’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. To walk away with the world championship is very special, too.

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

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Button won the 2009 F1 drivers’ title with the low-budget, privateer Brawn team after Honda pulled out of the sport during the credit crunch

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The 36-year-old won six of the first seven races in 2009

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Button was born in Frome, Somerset in 1980

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He began racing go-karts from the age of eight

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He began his F1 career at just 20 with Williams

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And regularly finished on the podium for Honda during the years dominated by Michael Schumacher

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Jenson Button won his first F1 race on his 113th start, in Hungary in 2006

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38092740