Jenson Button has taken a step towards Formula One retirement, opting not to race for McLaren in 2017.
The veteran Brit has agreed a new contract with the manufacturer until 2018, but will now serve in a support role alongside Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been promoted from reserve driver to the main line-up.
Button, the 2009 world champion, had been linked with a return to Williams, where he began his career in 2000, as a replacement for the retiring Felipe Massa.
Instead he will remain linked with McLaren in what the team has described as an "innovative role focusing on team and car development".
Jenson signs innovative new two-year role at McLaren-Honda, focusing on team & car development. Full line-up next... pic.twitter.com/FXMlYlVhns-- McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 3, 2016
Our 2017 race driver line-up: Fernando Alonso & Stoffel Vandoorne, with Jenson working with them in his new role. pic.twitter.com/uRw0sJp8O3-- McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 3, 2016
It remains to be seen if Button will return to regular competition, team principal Ron Dennis telling media, "to avoid any confusion, forget the word retirement."
The 36-year-old, who qualified 15th for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, has raced for Benetton, Renault, BAR and Honda, winning the drivers' championship with Brawn GP in 2009.