Google+ Jack Leslie F1: Vandoorne to partner Alonso at McLaren, Button steps down for 2017

3 September 2016

Vandoorne to partner Alonso at McLaren, Button steps down for 2017

Stoffel Vandoorne will join Fernando Alonso at McLaren for the 2017 Formula 1 season, it has been confirmed, with Jenson Button stepping down.
© McLaren
Button has a two-year contract with McLaren, with an option to return as a race driver in 2018. But he will not race next year and will take on a new ambassador role at the team.

He will also help with car development and take on a reserve driver position. The British driver has been racing for McLaren since the 2010 season, moving to the team after his 2009 championship-winning year at Brawn GP.

Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren at this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix to replace the injured Alonso, finishing in 10th place.

The highly-rated Belgian driver won the GP2 title in 2015 and is currently holds a reserve driver role at McLaren. He will be promoted to a race seat for 2017.

"I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team," Button said. "In fact I’m massively excited about my new role, which has come about as a result of a number of in-depth chats with Ron [Dennis].

"Specifically, I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver.

"I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with – and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team.

"To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. 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."

Vandoorne added: "First of all, I want to express my gratitude to everyone at McLaren-Honda, and especially Ron, for showing faith in me. 

"I’ve signed loads of autographs in my career, but, when I inked my signature on my McLaren-Honda contract today, it’s safe to say I had an exceptionally special feeling as I picked up my pen to do so. 

"It’s an enormous honour to become a McLaren-Honda race driver, and I promise to work as hard as any Formula 1 driver ever has before. 

"I already know the team extremely well – they’re a fantastic group of extremely clever people – and I’ve already raced the car once and tested it often. 

"I have total confidence in the potential of the McLaren-Honda project, and I firmly believe that, racing alongside a brilliant and experienced driver, I’ll be able to make a strong contribution to the team’s future world championship successes. 

"I’m not saying when that’ll happen, but I’m confident that that’s what the McLaren-Honda team will achieve, and I’m determined to do my bit. 

"There are a lot of other people whom I’d like to take this opportunity to thank – too many to list in fact. So all I can say is: you know who you are, and thank you."

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