Jenson Button’s final F1 race ends in early retirement (VIDEO)

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Jenson Button’s final Formula 1 race came to a disappointingly early end after the Briton suffered a front-right upright failure on his McLaren just 13 laps into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Button announced in September that he would be taking a step back from an F1 race seat for the 2017 season, having made his first start back in 2000 and been on the grid ever since.

Despite having a deal to race for McLaren in 2018 should both the driver and team be interested, Button admitted earlier this weekend that he was treating Sunday’s race in Abu Dhabi as his last.

Button qualified 12th for the race, and moved into the top 10 early on, only to suffer a sudden failure on his car after running hard over one of the curb chicanes, damaging the front-right upright and suspension.

Button reported the issue to the McLaren pit wall, who told him to bring the car back into the pits and retire from the race.

“I don’t think we’ve ever suffered a failure like this,” Button chuckled over the radio, the disappointment in his voice impossible to hide.

Upon returning to the pits, Button clambered out of his car before standing on the cockpit and waving to the fans in the grandstand that offered him a standing ovation, paying tribute to the Briton at the end of a storied grand prix career. He also embraced his mom, who was on site.

Button reflected on the early end of the race in a post-race interview with NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“It’s tricky. I should have won! But that wasn’t on the cards so I thought I’d retire early,” Button laughed.

“But today doesn’t matter. This result means nothing. It’s about having fun. Today was about enjoying the emotions of F1 as a whole with the fans. It meant I could celebrate with the fans when I got out of the car. McLarens don’t fail… but maybe today this happened for a reason. I’m gonna have a jolly good time this evening.

“Last night was amazing. Long dinner reminiscing. We filmed a lot of it… that’s dangerous. Hopefully we don’t lose that camera. Tough moments as well. But also great ones.

“Finishing early today is not a negative. I get to see these great people sooner rather than later.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.