F1 sabbatical rekindled Button's love for racing

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Jenson Button says a year spent on the sidelines was exactly what he needed to revive his flame for racing.

The 2009 world champion decided to call it a day on his time in Formula 1 at the end of 2016, after another unsuccessful season with McLaren-Honda.

Button subbed for Indy-bound Fernando Alonso at Monaco last May, but overall it was a leisurely year which enabled the driver to take a step back and recharge his batteries.

"This year off from Formula 1 has been the best thing I possibly could have done because my love for racing is back," Button told Motorsport.com during the Honda Thanks Day at Motegi last weekend.

"F1, my time was done there, but for racing itself my love is well and truly back. I'm very excited."

Last summer, the 37-year-old took part in the Japanese Super GT series' headline event - the Suzuka 1000km race, an experience which brought back the old flame.

"The race I did in August was so exciting, there was so much fighting, so much overtaking, and I really enjoyed it.

"Towards the end of the year [Masashi] Yamamoto-san [Honda motorsport boss] asked me if I'd like to do a full year of racing, and I said I'd love to do that.

"In Super GT there's a lot of competition between the manufacturers, and a lot of talented drivers, which is what you need in a sport. That's what gets you excited, that competition."

With his life now mainly based in California, Button was also keen on racing in the US. The Briton considered an IMSA drive with Penske-Acura, but combining Super GT with an endurance program in America would have simply been too problematic.

"We talked, but I was thinking about the endurance races, because I wanted to do Daytona," he explained.

"But it was tricky fitting it in with Super GT because you'd be all over the place during the season, flying between the US and Japan, and the testing schedules don't fit either.

"I wanted to do one thing properly – I didn't want to come into a season and over-race. Eight races [in Super GT] isn't a lot but it's the perfect amount to get you back into racing again."

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