Jenson Button has confirmed this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his final race in Formula 1 after 16 years in the sport.
The 2009 world champion had already agreed to take a sabbatical next year but now has no intention of competing in 2018 or beyond despite signing a new contract earlier in the season.
The 36-year-old will act as an ambassador the Woking-based team and essentially act as the back-up driver behind Fernando Alonso and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne during next term, but is not expecting to be enlisted. The race at Yas Marina is likely to be Button's 305<sup>th of his career which began in 2000.
Button went on to race for Benetton, Renault and Honda – where his career was thrown into deep uncertainty after the team folded at the end of the 2008 season. Ross Brawn staged a takeover of the team, newly named Brawn GP, and in 2009 as the team's premier driver Button won his maiden world drivers' championship.
He moved to McLaren the following year where he raced alongside fellow-Brit Lewis Hamilton but has failed to recapture the success he enjoyed during the middle part of his tenure in the sport. Brawn talked Button into staying at McLaren, amid the team's line-up with Honda, starting in 2015 but he has recorded just one podium finish during that period.
"I go into this weekend thinking it's going to be my last race," said Button at the weekly drivers press conference, according to Sky Sports. "I think that's the best way to be. At this moment in time I don't want to be racing in Formula 1 past this race. I think of this as my last race and hopefully everyone else does as well.
"Me not racing next year is because I don't want to race next year. There's other things I want to do. But the idea came up that I had a 2018 contract, so if next year I get halfway through the year and I think I'm bored, I need to go racing again, I can. But it was always the idea that this was my last grand prix. Maybe it won't be but I'm going to think of it as my last grand prix.
"It's been a long journey. You get to Formula 1 with many dreams and you aspire to be something and hopefully leave the sport with memories. That's something I definitely do have in my 17 years of racing. Lots of life-changing memories – some good, some bad.
"Also to walk away with the world championship is a very special feeling as well. I raced with two of the teams I dreamt of racing with as a kid, Williams and McLaren. Over 300 grands prix and I will definitely step away from Formula 1 happy with what I achieved and knowing that my life really does start now."