Jenson Button’s Formula One career ended in bitter disappointment on Sunday after he was forced to retire from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Button, competing in what he described as “probably” his final race as he makes way for Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren next season, lasted only 12 laps before he parked his car.
The 36-year-old Englishman ran heavily over a kerb at the Yas Marina Circuit which damaged his front suspension.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a failure like this,” said Button over the team radio as he limped back to the McLaren garage.
Button was given a standing ovation by the crowd before he stood on top of his McLaren cockpit and applauded them back.
The Englishman removed his crash helmet and his balaclava before hugging his mother, Simone, who brushed away tears, and the rest of his entourage. He then shook hands with his McLaren mechanics.
Ahead of the race, Button, who won the world championship seven years ago, paid tribute to his father John who died in 2014.
“So I hear today is a pretty big day for me,” Button said. “Today is the day that I will be strapped into an F1 car for probably the last time. It’s been an eventful 17 years!
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has helped and supported me through the years including family, friends, team members and fans and last but not least my Dad who I’m hoping is looking down on us with pride, miss you papa.
“From when the lights go out at the start of my final race here in Abu Dhabi to when the chequered flag drops I will give it my all and drive with my heart knowing that whatever happens today I will always know I reached my goal and dream in life to become a Formula One World Champion.
“I arrived with dreams and leave with memories.”