Jenson Button to swap regular race action for ambassadorial role

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion is at McLaren alongside double-champion Fernando Alonso

BY Raf Diallo 16:24 Saturday 3 September 2016, 16:24 3 Sep 2016

McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain smiles as he attends a press conference ahead of Sunday's Formula One Italian Grand Prix, at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Jenson Button will not be one of McLaren's first-choice drivers for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The 2009 world champion will not be scheduled for a race, after signing a two-year deal that will see him take up an ambassadorial role with the team.

The British driver has not officially retired, and would still be available to compete in Grands Prix if required.

Main drivers for 2017 will be Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, the latter of whom has one race under his belt, having filled in for the Spaniard at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"McLaren-Honda’s race driver line-up next season will be Fernando and Stoffel – a perfectly balanced mix of proven brilliance and immense potential," said McLaren chief Ron Dennis in their announcement.

"Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, [Button] will 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."

He made his debut in F1 16 years ago which makes him the most experienced current driver on the grid, and won the drivers' championship in 2009 with the Brawn GP team. 

Button was also runner-up in the 2011 championship with McLaren.

With the team's downturn in performance since then, the past few seasons have been difficult for Button and double-world champion team-mate Alonso.

For instance, this season Button's best finish is sixth in Austria, with a total points count of 17 which leaves him 15th in the driver's standings.

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