Jenson Button will make way for Stoffel Vandoorne to partner Fernando Alonso at McLaren next year
British driver Jenson Button has announced that he will not be the main driver at McLaren next year. He will be replaced by youngster Stoffel Vandoorne, who made his debut earlier this year afternoon. The Belgian driver was appointed McLaren’s Test and Development driver in January of 2014.
The move is part of a three driver strategy by McLaren. Button says he is not going to be retiring, but instead taking a small break from racing. He has a contract with McLaren for 2017 and 2018. He will remain with the team with a new ambassadorial role. He will actively help in developing the car. Button will drive for the team if the need arises.
Button, who started his Formula One career with Williams in 2000, joined McLaren in 2010 and has raced for them since. He won his only F1 World Championship in 2009 with Brawn GP. Currently, he is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. The last race of this season will be his 305th F1 start.
“McLaren-Honda’s race driver line-up next season will be Fernando and Stoffel – a perfectly balanced mix of proven brilliance and immense potential,” Executive chairman and CEO Ron Dennis said. Speaking on Button, he went on to say “As a race driver for our team these past seven seasons, he’s been superb, both on and off the track. And, as we’re seeing this season, he remains superb – not only fast and fit but also experienced and expert. He’ll start his 298th Grand Prix tomorrow; as such, he’s the most experienced driver on the grid. Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, he’ll continue to be a senior, influential and committed member of the team, and will remain centrally involved in the development of our cars. He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it.”