Jenson Button has announced he will not be racing in Formula One next season, with Stoffel Vandoorne set to take his McLaren seat.
The 36-year-old, who has participated in every season since 2000, will take a year out of the sport next term and will be replaced by the highly-rated reserve driver.
McLaren have an option on Button for him to compete for the race team in 2018.
Button, the 2009 world champion, made the announcement flanked by McLaren chairman Ron Dennis in the team’s motorhome on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix.
“I can tell you now that I do have a two-year contract starting next year with McLaren-Honda, and next year I will be an ambassador for this team,” Button said.
“I will work with this team in every way I can to make it a better team for the future. I will train my arse off like you have never seen before and I will also do a lot of races to make sure everything is on the right track.
“I will also be doing a lot of stuff that I haven’t done for 17 years. I will be living on my schedule, spend more time with my friends and more importantly my family who I haven’t seen properly in 17 years. That is something I am really excited about.
“There are many things I want to do that I haven’t been able to do because of the Formula One schedule. You are not just a racing driver when you drive in F1 – this is your life – and I definitely need a break from that in 2017.
“So, 2017 will be that and in 2018 the team have an option on me to race for McLaren-Honda which is pretty awesome.”