Jeson Button remains smooth and fast for final lap

He is a world champion, highly respected, vastly experienced and a proven race winner.

Jeson Button remains smooth and fast for final lap

Abu Dhabi: He is a world champion, highly respected, vastly experienced and a proven race winner.

But on Sunday, after 265 races and 15 victories, Jenson Button was bidding farewell to McLaren and Formula One when he lined up on the grid for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

At least, that was how it seemed.

To most observers, and those family and friends close to the 34-year-old Briton, it has long been expected that he will be replaced next season by two-time champion Fernando Alonso, whose departure from Ferrari was confirmed on Thursday.

But, amid speculation, doubts persist.

"I hope this isn`t my last Grand Prix, I really do because I feel I have a lot to give," Button said before Sunday`s desert title-decider.

"Of course, there is something in the back of your mind thinking it possibly could be, so you have to enjoy it as much as you can.

"Whether that is the pictures on the wall, or un-tucking your shirt or something else...

"But I am here to do a job. I can do the best job I can, but off circuit, with family and friends, we are talking about things more than we would normally.

"So far, I have enjoyed this weekend and it`s great having my family here..."

Button may not know, and cannot say, what his future holds.

McLaren, where he has been a permanent fixture since winning the title with Brawn in 2009, have delayed making a decision, or announcement, about their 2015 team plans until next month.

Next season, they will switch engine suppliers from Mercedes to Honda, renewing a relationship from the halcyon days of the late 1980`s when, with Brazilian Ayrton Senna and Frenchman Alain Prost, they dominated.

As the speculation swirls around him, Button has battled his emotions, struggled to sleep and missed the advice of his late father John.

His mother and three sisters have travelled to the Yas Marina circuit to support him, but the man who knew him best passed away this year, before the season began. 

"The one person who knew me best was the old boy," Button told reporters.

"Whether I agreed with his comments, or not, I would still take it in and that`s what has been the toughest (thing for me) these last two months. I can`t just bounce stuff off him.

"I`ve spoken to Richard [Goddard, his manager] and I find myself wanting to call Dad and relay the information because I know he would love to hear all the different ideas that I have.

"But I obviously can`t do that. It`s made it very tricky, very emotional. I`m not a religious person at all but I`m quite spiritual and he was as well. My missus [Jessica Michibata] is too. I`ll leave it at that..."

It has been difficult, too, for Button`s mechanics and friends within the McLaren team as they wait to learn, as he does, for the drivers` line-up next year to be announced.

"I haven`t slept a lot to be fair," he said.

"There has been a lot of thinking going on. It`s been a busy few weeks mentally, spending time speaking to people who know me best, really, running through everything in terms of career and future."

Whatever the outcome, Button will be looking forwards and not reflecting on his past.

"I`m not here for looking back and people telling me I`ve done a good job, or not done a good job, in front of loads of other people watching," he said.

"That doesn`t interest me. For me the race is what I love and I will celebrate - if it is my last race in F1 - with the people that I want to, away from prying eyes and cameras..."

Button starts on the third row behind Mercedes` title protagonists Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in the last race of the 2015 season which gets underway at 1300 GMT.

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