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.”

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”