Jenson Button has ended speculation regarding his future by confirming an innovative contractual arrangement that sees the 2009 World Champion step away from racing activities in 2017, whilst remaining at McLaren as an ambassador and reserve driver for the team. Both Button and McLaren CEO Ron Dennis were keen to stress during todays announcement that this is not the end of Buttons' career in Formula One, and indeed confirmed the door remains open for the affable Briton to return to racing in 2018 if current teammate Fernando Alonso decides against continuing with the British squad. Button had the following to say during the official McLaren announcement: “I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team. In fact I’m massively excited about my new role, which has come about as a result of a number of in-depth chats with Ron. Specifically, I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver. “I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with – and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team. “To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point.” It is expected that Button will effectively switch places with the inbound Stoffel Vandoorne, becoming the official reserve driver for McLaren alongside his new ambassadorial role within the team. Always popular with fans and sponsors, Button will no doubt become the "face" of McLaren post 2016 with his new role, however the title of 'Ambassador' has a particularly wide scope with no major details of what this should entail currently available. With Spaniard Fernando Alonso already confirmed at McLaren for 2017, Dennis went on to confirm the Woking squad have promoted highly talented 2015 GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne into a race role for 2017, a move many considered a practical certainty following the Belgians' meteoric rise through the open wheel ranks. Touted as a potential future World Champion, Vandoorne comes highly rated by the Grand Prix fraternity after his starring role in the 2015 GP2 Series. Benefiting from a long time association with McLaren, Vandoorne has been preparing for his full time Formula One bow for several years now, often seen in the McLaren garage during race weekends and complimenting his team duties with a stint in the Japanese open wheel Super Formula championship this year. Understandably delighted with the confirmation of his drive with McLaren Honda next season, Vandoorne said: “First of all, I want to express my gratitude to everyone at McLaren-Honda, and especially Ron, for showing faith in me. “I’ve signed loads of autographs in my career, but, when I inked my signature on my McLaren-Honda contract today, it’s safe to say I had an exceptionally special feeling as I picked up my pen to do so. “It’s an enormous honour to become a McLaren-Honda race driver, and I promise to work as hard as any Formula 1 driver ever has before. “I already know the team extremely well – they’re a fantastic group of extremely clever people – and I’ve already raced the car once and tested it often. I have total confidence in the potential of the McLaren-Honda project, and I firmly believe that, racing alongside a brilliant and experienced driver, I’ll be able to make a strong contribution to the team’s future World Championship successes. “I’m not saying when that’ll happen, but I’m confident that that’s what the McLaren-Honda team will achieve, and I’m determined to do my bit. “There are a lot of other people whom I’d like to take this opportunity to thank – too many to list in fact. So all I can say is: you know who you are, and thank you.” Rounding out the announcement, Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the McLaren Technology Group, gave the following statement: “McLaren-Honda’s race driver line-up next season will be Fernando and Stoffel – a perfectly balanced mix of proven brilliance and immense potential. “But, before I speak on the subject of either of them, I want to talk about Jenson. As a race driver for our team these past seven seasons, he’s been superb, both on and off the track. And, as we’re seeing this season, he remains superb – not only fast and fit but also experienced and expert. He’ll start his 298th Grand Prix tomorrow; as such, he’s the most experienced driver on the grid. “Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, he’ll continue to be a senior, influential and committed member of the team, and will remain centrally involved in the development of our cars. He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it. “On behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, I want to say how thrilled we are that Jenson has extended his contractual relationship with us. Moreover, I’m absolutely certain that the depth of his experience and the currency of his expertise will give us an advantage over our opposition next season. “As for Fernando, 2017 will be his third year as a McLaren-Honda race driver, and I need hardly reaffirm his credentials here. So let me simply restate my belief that he’s one of the finest and fastest Grand Prix drivers I’ve ever seen, and we’re very proud to have him in the team. “He’s been both diligent and patient over the past two seasons, and he shares with all of us at McLaren-Honda the confidence that 2017 will be the season in which our partnership begins to deliver strong results. “Stoffel has been a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme since February 2013, and was appointed our Test and Development Driver 11 months later. “Over the past two-and-a-half years he’s made a very valuable contribution in that role, learning from his two World Champion team-mates as well as from our many world-class engineers, and, having been runner-up in World Series by Renault in 2013 and the run-away winner of the GP2 Championship last year, he’s now completed with distinction a meticulously designed apprenticeship. “He’s consequently now ready to race in Formula 1, as his fine Grand Prix debut in Bahrain this year proved.” With Button's future now confirmed for the next two years, speculation will no doubt increase as to who will fill the second Williams seat alongside Valtteri Bottas in 2017. Paddock speculation has been strong in recent weeks that Button featured high on Claire Williams wish list of drivers heading into next season, and that speculation only increased following Thursdays announcement that Filipe Massa will retire from Grand Prix racing at the end of the current season. With a solid, if only customer, Mercedes engine and a wealth of engineering pedigree behind it, who fills the second Williams seat will no doubt be a hot topic in the coming weeks. Short on funds but high on ambition, will the popular British squad look to secure an established name to lead them through some of the biggest technical changes in recent years, or will the ever present need to secure additional funding for the team force the former champions to look at more well heeled candidates heading into the final few months of 2016? It will be an interesting to see how the driver market develops following Massa's retirement and Button's new and innovative McLaren contract arrangement. Jenson Button Career Stats: Titles 1 - 2009 Wins 15 (8 for McLaren) Poles 8 Fastest laps 8 Check out the Formula One sub forum here at RaceDepartment for more news and discussions about the sport. What do you think of Button and McLarens decision regarding drivers next year? Is this the end for Jenson Button? With the odds on move to Williams now not happening, who do you think will take the second seat at Grove? Let us know in the comments section below!