McLaren-Honda driver and 2009 World Champion Jenson Button will announce his retirement at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at Suzuka, according to several reports.
This is 35-year-old Button’s 15th straight year in Formula One, making him the most experienced driver on the circuit. The son of rallycross driver John Button, Jenson began karting at the age of 8, finding success almost immediately.
Aged nine, Button won the British Super Prix, subsequently participating in the British Cadet Karting Championships and winning every single one of its 34 races; he would also take the title.
At 17, he participated in the European Super A Championship, becoming its youngest ever winner in 1997. That same year, he also participated in the Formula A championship, ending it as a runner-up, ending his karting career on a high as he moved on to single-seaters.
He was involved in car racing for a while as well, also aprticipating in Formula 3 before Williams offered him a seat for the 2000 season. Moving to Benetton the following year and to works team Renault in 2003, but had middling success with each team.
His strongest performances came with the British Brawn GP, formed as a result of a late buy-out by team principal Ross Brawn. He had a strong start to that season, with 6 wins early on and 9 podium spots overall. The last of these came after a downswing in his performances in the middle of the year, and he ultimately took that year’s championship, also winning the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award and was given appointed an MBE the following year for ‘services to motorsport’.
Button has been with McLaren since 2010, in its several iterations with different engine manufacturers. He partnered Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes, and announced in 2013 that he would stay with the team until his retirement.
The team moved to Honda power this year, and has had dismal results all season, with 5 retirements and a DNS for Button and 6 for teammate Alonso.
Earlier this year, Button said that if he did not find a seat at McLaren, he would retire at the end of the year. Although the team have not said anything to suggest they will let go of McLaren, this would be the end of what has been an entirely unsatisfactory season for the former champion.
Both Button and Alonso retired from yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix, where Germany’s Sebastian Vettel took victory.
Formula One next moves to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix; Button’s wife Jessica is from the country, and the driver considers it his second home. He is widely expected to make the announcement prior the Japanese Grand Prix.