We all remember McLaren’s “innovative three-driver strategy” for the next two seasons. But it appears that could be down to two drivers.
Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were confirmed for 2017, with Jenson Button taking a step back but remaining at McLaren as an ambassador and reserve driver.
When the announcement was made, it was claimed Button could well return to F1 in 2018 after his “break” – the team downplayed calling it a sabbatical.
However, Button has admitted he’s thinking of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as his final F1 race and said he doesn’t want to be racing in F1 beyond this year.
Here’s what he said during the FIA press conference:
“I go into this weekend thinking it’s going to be my last race, I think that’s the best way. It is going to be my last race. At this moment in time, I don’t want to be racing in F1 beyond this year.
“Nothing has changed. I’m just going into it thinking that it’s my last, as I don’t want to go into it thinking it’s not my last and it is my last. It is true that I have a contract for 2018, but at this moment I’m not going to be racing in 2018.
“The whole idea of the contract was that, in three months’ time, when I’ve eaten myself stupid, and I’m thinking of things to do in the future, I may feel that I need Formula 1 back in my life. At this moment in time that isn’t the case. This is my last race, and that’s the way I’m thinking about it, but who knows, that could change in six months, eight months, one year…”
So, for now, that sounds like a pretty clear “no” to racing in F1 after 2016, bringing a 17-year career in the series to a close after one world title and 15 wins.
But as Button said, his mind could change. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess!