According to McLaren, Button will instead form part of an ‘innovative three-driver strategy’ alongside Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne that will see him ‘centrally involved’ in the development of the team’s cars and available to race if necessary.
“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," said Button, who has competed in 128 races for McLaren, winning eight of them. "I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the team.
“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, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Technology Group].
“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.
“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.”
Ron Dennis hailed Button’s contribution to McLaren over the past seven seasons, saying the 2009 world champion’s experience would be crucial as the team strive to return to winning ways:
“As a race driver for our team these past seven seasons, he’s been superb, both on and off the track,” said Dennis. “And, as we’re seeing this season, he remains superb – not only fast and fit but also experienced and expert. He’ll start his 298th Grand Prix tomorrow; as such, he’s the most experienced driver on the grid.
“Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, he’ll continue to be a senior, influential and committed member of the team, and will remain centrally involved in the development of our cars. He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it.
“On behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, I want to say how thrilled we are that Jenson has extended his contractual relationship with us. Moreover, I’m absolutely certain that the depth of his experience and the currency of his expertise will give us an advantage over our opposition next season.”