Lewis Hamilton has described Jenson Button as “an extraordinary British champion” after the news his former McLaren team-mate will not race in 2017.
Button announced on Saturday that he has signed a two-year deal with McLaren to become an ambassador for the team next season, with Stoffel Vandoorne taking over his race seat. Button will remain as a reserve driver and help McLaren with its development, while the team as an option on him to race in 2018.
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After hearing the news, Hamilton – who was team-mate with the 2009 world champion at McLaren from 2010 until 2012 – praised Button for his contribution to F1.
“Jenson’s been an extraordinary British champion,” Hamilton said. “I remember watching him when he first got to Formula One on a weekend with my dad, eating bacon sarnies, watching Jenson doing what I was dreaming to do.
“He’s done 17 years now, a long, long stint in this sport, but what he has given to it is fantastic.”
- Jenson Button: 17 years racing in F1
And while Hamilton acknowledges Button’s experience, he says the 36-year-old is still fit enough to return to F1 if he chooses to in 2018.
“We were joking in the drivers’ briefing the other day. Max [Verstappen] was sitting next to me, along with Jenson and Felipe [Massa], and Jenson told Max: ‘You were just one-year-old when I first got to Formula One’. That was kind of crazy.
“But Jenson is still young, still healthy, still fit, so I wish him all the best for the future.”
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