Jenson Button has called the opportunity to take a sabbatical from racing full-time in Formula 1 next year a “dream” after announcing his new role with McLaren.
Following qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Saturday, Button announced that he had signed a new two-year deal with McLaren that would see him step down from his race seat for 2017.
The 2009 world champion will work as a McLaren ambassador and act as the team’s reserve driver, as well as aiding the development of its F1 car.
McLaren also has the option to bring Button back into a full-time race seat for 2018 should both parties be willing, quashing talk of retirement.
Speaking at the press conference on Saturday, Button said the chance to take a break from racing and possibly return is one he relishes.
“For a driver that’s been in the sport for so long, and has achieved what I’ve achieved, winning a world championship, winning many grands prix and podiums, it really is a dream to be able to have that rest and the possibility of racing in the future,” Button said.
“This is something that really works for me, that I’m so, so happy with.
“I’ll also be doing a lot of stuff that I haven’t done for 17 years. I’ll be living on my schedule, I’ll get up when I want, I’ll do what I want for a lot of the days of the year, spend more time with my friends and, more importantly, my family who I haven’t properly seen for 17 years. That’s something that I’m really excited about.
“I’m also an avid fan and lover of triathlons as you probably know, so there are many things I want to do that I haven’t been able to do because of the F1 schedule.”
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto