Jenson Button won't race in F1 in 2017, but could still return in 2018
Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed as Fernando Alonso's team-mate at McLaren in 2017; McLaren retain option on Button for 2018
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 16/09/16 11:28am
Jenson Button will not race in Formula 1 in 2017 - but could return to the grid in 2018 with McLaren after agreeing a new two-year deal at the team.
Stoffel Vandoorne will instead race alongside Fernando Alonso next season.
After months of speculation over his future, the 36-year-old Button announced at Monza on Saturday what could only amount to a sabbatical from racing for one year after agreeing a revised deal which includes the option of returning to the grid with the team in 2018.
"I definitely need a break," Button told a news conference. "In 2018 the team have an option for me to drive."
McLaren described the new arrangement as a "innovative three-driver strategy" which keeps Button, Alonso and Vandoorne on their books for at least another season.
"There is no reason why he [Button] shouldn't come back and race in 2018," said McLaren chairman Ron Dennis.
"We will see where we are in a year. Jenson doesn't have a desire to drive for other F1 teams. He had offers from other teams for next season but rejected them."
Button has been heavily linked with a return to Williams but confirmed: "I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team."
Alonso's contract expires at the end of next season and the Spaniard has said he will only consider his own F1 future once he experiences next season's revised F1 cars.
McLaren's option on Button for 2018 can therefore be regarded as an 'insurance policy' if Alonso decides to walk away - or if Vandoorne struggles.
"It's the perfect solution for the circumstances which exist in our team," added Dennis.
Button is the most experienced driver on the current grid having made his debut in the sport with Williams in 2000. After winning his sole world title with Brawn in 2009, the Briton joined McLaren in 2010 and has won eight races for the Woking team.
"To be clear, I'm very definitely not retiring," Button added. "I'm contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I'm sure I'll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point."