Jenson Button says he expects the Abu Dhabi GP to be his last race in Formula 1 despite having an option to return in 2018.
The Brit, a 17-year veteran in the sport, announced he was taking a sabbatical earlier this season but still signed a two-year contract with McLaren and stressed that he was not retiring.
His McLaren deal gives the Woking team an option to reinstate him in two years‘ time should either Stoffel Vandoorne or Fernando Alonso leave, but Button now insists he doesn’t want to return after this weekend’s grand prix.
“I go into this weekend thinking it’s going to be my last race,” he said during the Drivers’ Press Conference. “I think that’s the best way to be. At this moment in time I don’t want to be racing in Formula 1 past this race.
“I think of this as my last race and hopefully everyone else does as well.”
Button was convinced into not quitting F1 by then McLaren chief Ron Dennis, who has now left his post, and initially stated that he would be training harder than ever with a view to lining up on the grid again.
“The whole idea about having a contract was that in three months‘ time when I’ve eaten myself stupid and thinking of things in the future – maybe I’ll feel I need Formula 1 back in my life,” the 36-year-old explained.
“But at this moment in time that isn’t the case, so this is my last race. That’s how I think about it at the moment. But who knows? That could change in six months, eight months, one year.”
The 2009 world champion added that he was looking forward to get on track at Yas Marina, and reminisced on some of his best moments in the sport.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “You get to Formula 1 with many dreams and you aspire to be something and hopefully leave the sport with memories. That’s something I definitely do have in my 17 years of racing. Lots of life-changing memories – some good, some bad.
“Also to walk away with the world championship is a very special feeling as well. I raced with two of the teams I dreamt of racing with as a kid, Williams and McLaren. Over 300 grands prix and I will definitely step away from Fromula 1 happy with what I achieved and knowing that my life really does start now.”