SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Jenson Button will return to racing next season but not in Formula One after spending one year too many in the sport, the Briton said on Friday.
The 2009 world champion raced in the ‘Suzuka 1000km’ endurance race earlier this year as a one off, on the same circuit as this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite his desire to resume racing since giving up his seat at McLaren-Honda at the end of the 2016 season, the 37-year-old said that he had no qualms about leaving his Formula One career in the past.
“Do I miss F1? No, I don‘t,” Button told reporters on Friday.
“I miss racing. I’d sort of fallen out of love a little bit with motorsport. I think that maybe I left it a year too long, racing in Formula One.”
Button, who won his only world title with Brawn, raced in Formula One for 17 seasons.
He remains the last driver to have won a race for McLaren, nearly five years ago at the 2012 season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, and has stayed on as the team’s ambassador and reserve driver.
The 15-times grand prix winner made a cameo at this year’s Monaco event, standing in for former team mate Fernando Alonso, who chose to skip the sport’s blue riband race to compete in the Indy 500 instead.
But Button has otherwise spent a majority of his time in the United States training for triathlons.
“It’s nice to have some free time and sort of look back on the last 17 years because while you’re racing in F1 you don’t do that,” he said.
“It’s been very emotional actually. It’s been lovely and it’s been necessary as well.”
However, Button added that his Suzuka appearance earlier in the year had rekindled his love for racing, just not enough to consider competing against the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel again.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had that feeling so I’ve been itching to drive anything to be fair,” said Button, who also ruled out racing in the American IndyCar single-seater series and Formula E.
“So next year I’ll be racing something. I don’t know what yet, whether it’ll be in America or in Europe or in Japan. But there are few options and I want to do a full season and take it properly seriously.”
Reporting by Abhishek Takle; Editing by Christian Radnedge