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Honda will utilise Button ‘much more’ in 2017

Honda will be able to utilise Jenson Button “much more next year” as a result of the 35-year-old not racing for McLaren.

Button announced in Monza he will take a year off racing in F1 as he needs a break, but will remain an ambassador for the team and could return to a race seat in 2018. As Button used to race for Honda when it was a constructor in the sport, the Japanese manufacturer’s head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa says he is pleased the 2009 world champion has been retained in some capacity.

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“For Honda, Jenson is a very special driver,” Hasegawa said. “I was working with him more than eight years. And Jenson has so many Japanese fans. But one day, we have to accept he’s not racing.

“[Monza] was not retirement. Next year we have to accept he’s not the regular driver. But I’m very happy still we can have a connection with Jenson and we expect to have more chance to work with him not only at the race, on development and marketing. We can utilise Jenson much more than this year. “

And Hasegawa says he supports McLaren’s move to promote reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne in Button’s place, having been impressed by the Belgian’s progress so far as he currently competes in Super Formula in Japan..

“Stoffel already showed his ability in Bahrain, in the GP2 races last year, it’s exciting to have a young driver. It’s a very good combination.

“In the first race [in Super Formula] he got a podium. It is incredible. He is not just a talent. He’s very calm and very clever. Sometimes we misunderstand that.”

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