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Jenson Button to make Super GT debut at final Suzuka 1000km

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2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button will make his debut in the Japanese Super GT championship in August with the Honda-backed Team Mugen.

Button stepped away from racing in F1 at the end of last year, but made a surprise return in Monaco last weekend while full-time McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso competed at the Indianapolis 500.

Button has stressed time and time again that he is not interested in returning to F1 full-time, but said he would like to try other events including NASCAR and Le Mans.

Button revealed in Monaco that he would be testing a Super GT car this week, and was on Friday confirmed to be part of Team Mugen’s line-up for Suzuka 1000km.

“After driving an NSX Concept GT at the Honda Racing Thanks Day last December, I became interested in racing in Super GT,” Button said.

” I spoke with Honda and they have given me the chance to race at the Suzuka 1000km. As an F1 driver and a member of Team Mugen, I will push to win.”

Button will race alongside Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima at Suzuka for what will be the final running of the 1000km race.

The race will be replaced in 2018 by a timed 10-hour event for FIA GT3 and GT300 machinery, and will no longer be part of the Super GT calendar.

The 2017 Suzuka 1000km takes place on August 27.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”