Jenson Button takes backseat McLaren role

Jenson Button has agreed a new contract with the manufacturer until 2018, but will now serve in a support role alongside Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been promoted from reserve driver to the main line-up.

Jenson Button - cropped

Button, the 2009 world champion, had been linked with a return to Williams, where he began his career in 2000, as a replacement for the retiring Felipe Massa.

Jenson Button has claimed he is not set to retire yet despite stepping down from his role as one of McLaren's two lead drivers from 2017 onwards.

The veteran Brit has agreed a new contract with the manufacturer until 2018, but will now serve in a support role alongside Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been promoted from reserve driver to the main line-up.

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Button, the 2009 world champion, had been linked with a return to Williams, where he began his career in 2000, as a replacement for the retiring Felipe Massa.

Instead he will remain with McLaren in what the team has described as an "innovative role focusing on team and car development".

It remains to be seen if Button will return to regular competition, although the veteran insisted he expects to contribute actively in his new capacity. 

"To be clear, I'm very definitely not retiring … I'm sure I'll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point," he said via a McLaren statement.

Team principal Ron Dennis added: "He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it."

The 36-year-old, who qualified 15th for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, has raced for Benetton, Renault, BAR and Honda, winning the drivers' championship with Brawn GP in 2009.