Taking time out from racing a "dream" for Button
Jenson Button says he couldn't be happier after announcing his new two-year deal with McLaren, stressing that he has had little time to relax having been an F1 race driver for the last 17 years.
The 2009 world champion will be an ambassador for the team next year, but will also be a part of the simulator programme and will on stand-by as a reserve driver if needed.
The intriguing twist to the deal is that McLaren has an option on his services as a race driver or 2018 – so if Fernando Alonso leaves at the end of his current three-year deal, in theory Button will be the first choice to step back.
That's assuming that, having taken a year out, he still wants to return to the cockpit.
Button said that it was over the course of August – when he had a rare chance to relax – that he realised how much he would benefit if he takes some time off.
It was after the break that he began to discuss options with Ron Dennis.
"During the summer break, where I had a pretty awesome time with friends and family, living on my schedule, which is something I haven't done for 17 years," said Button as he explained how he came to the decision.
"I've lived and breathed F1 since I was 19 years old, and I'm 36 now. You go to grands prix on the weekend and everything else is either recovery or preparation for a grand prix. I came to a decision that I wanted to initiate talks with Ron in Spa, which we did.
"Next year I will be an ambassador for this team. I will work with this team in every way I can to make it a better team for the future.
"I will do sim work, I will stay current, I will train my arse off like you've never seen before, and I'll also be doing a lot of races, making sure that everything is on the right track, and giving as much input as I can.
"I'll also be doing a lot of stuff that I haven't done for 17 years. I'll be living, as I said, on my schedule. I'll get up when I want, I'll do what I want, for a lot of the days of the year. I'll spend more time with my friends, and more importantly my family, who I haven't properly seen for 17 years!
"That's something that I am really excited about. I'm also an avid fan and lover of triathlons, as you probably know. There are many things that I have not been able to do because of the F1 schedule.
"As we all know, you're not just a racing driver when you drive in F1, this is your life. And I definitely need a break from that after 2017."
Button made it clear that he was excited about the prospect of racing again in 2018, should circumstances dictate that it happens.
"So, '17 will be that, and in 2018 the team have an option on me to race for McLaren Honda. Which is pretty awesome. Obviously it's a long way in the future.
"This has been a very interesting week for me with Ron, talking on the phone, discussing obviously in Spa, and this is something that really works for me, and I'm so, so happy with, that we've come to this agreement to work together over the next two years.
"I'll do everything that I can to make sure that this team is as good as it possibly can be in 2017.
"For a driver that's been in the sport for so long, achieving what I've achieved, winning a world championship, winning many grands prix and podiums, it really is a dream to have that rest, and the possibility of racing in the future.
"This is something I am very, very happy about."
Button indicated that he may race outside F1 in 2017, but insisted that nothing has been planned as yet.
"There is a possibility of me racing next year, but at the moment I'm not thinking of anything beyond, first of all, the rest of this year. There's many things I want to do.
"Trying to list them here is impossible really. I'm really excited about this. Wherever it takes us in the future, and I don't really know where it's going to take us in the future, this is exciting as I said, and it gives me the opportunity like I said to live my like like I haven't as an adult, ever.
"My family is forever growing as well, so it's nice to be able to spend time with them and not see them every year and see they've grown another six inches, all the kids in my family.
"So that is very important to me. But also I love my fitness, I love my triathlons, I love my cycling. Of course I love racing and I always will for the rest of my life. And F1 will always be close to my heart, because it has been my life for so many years. But yes, there is the possibility that I could race next year."
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