Eric Boullier has paid tribute to Jenson Button’s “brilliant” contribution to McLaren as the former champion prepares to cut formal ties with the team after eight years.
As revealed by Sky Sports, Button’s contract is not being renewed at the end of the year with the 37-year-old set to focus on racing in another series and Lando Norris taking on the team’s reserve driver role.
Button stepped down from a race seat at the end of last year but extended his contract to continue his association with the team and made a one-off race return in Monaco in May to fill in for Fernando Alonso.
“Jenson has been a brilliant driver and ambassador for us, for Formula 1 and for England as well,” said Boullier, McLaren’s racing director.
“His contract is ending at the end of this year but he will always be part of the McLaren family and always have a special place for us.
“That’s life and this is another step and another chapter, with Lando stepping in to the third driver role.”
Button joined McLaren for the 2010 season just weeks after becoming world champion with Brawn, signing up to partner Lewis Hamilton.
Button at McLaren: The stats Race driver 2010-2016 Reserve driver 2017 Race starts 136 Wins 8 Podiums 26 Pole positions 1 Best championship finish 2nd, 2011
The Englishman is second on the team’s all-time appearance list after David Coulthard and won eight races while at the team, his final one coming at the 2012 Brazilian GP. That also stands as McLaren’s last victory.
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Speaking on his most recent appearance in the F1 paddock at the Japanese GP last month, Button said he had got his hunger back to compete in a full season of racing elsewhere after an appearance in Super GT at Suzuka.
“I came here completely green, it was completely different to anything I’d ever done,” he said of his debut in the sportscar category. “We didn’t get a very good result but I came away and I felt that I had the love back for racing. As soon as we finished I wanted to do it all again. It’s been a while since I had that feeling so I’ve been itching to drive.
“Next year I will race something. I don’t know what yet whether it be in America, Europe or Japan. There are a few options but I want to do a full season.”
Natalie Pinkham is joined by Williams F1 Team co-founder Sir Patrick Head and Sky F1's Marc Priestley to review the Brazilian GP
Who will come out on top in the F1 2017 season finale and take the bragging rights into the winter? Don’t miss the Abu Dhabi GP live on Sky Sports F1 on November 26 – lights out for the race is at 1pm. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!
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