McLaren has announced that Jenson Button will stay on with the team for the 2016 Formula One season.
There had been speculation about the 2009 champion’s future in the run up to last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, with many commentators expecting him to announce his retirement.
Button said: “Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future.
“But I have been a McLaren driver for six season now [2010-2015], and in that time I have got to know Ron [Dennis] very well. He and I have had some very good chats these past few weeks, and during those chats it has become clear to me that Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future.”
McLaren boss Dennis said during the Japanese GP that the team had the option to terminate Button’s two-year contract early, but that “became an irrelevance” once he made his decision after the Singapore race.
Starting his F1 career at Williams in 2000, Button is the most experienced driver currently competing and next season will become one of only three drivers to contest more than 300 races, alongside Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.
McLaren is currently enduring one the worst seasons in its history, as it struggles with the problematic new Honda power unit. It currently lies ninth in the Constructors’ Championship on 17 points, ahead of only the non-scoring Manor Marussia outfit.
Dennis added that he was sure Button is “as committed and focused as ever,” and that the 35-year old’s “wealth of experience makes him a massively valuable asset to the team – he is also supremely fit and as super-fast as ever.”
There is no word yet if Fernando Alonso will also drive for McLaren in 2016, though he is expected to do so.
An unfortunate side-effect of Button’s 2016 drive is that it will restart the merry-go-round of speculation about who will present Top Gear alongside Chris Evans. Button was linked with show a few months ago.
Elsewhere, former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has called time on his motorsport career. The 25-year old contested the early races of the inaugural Formula E in 2014 and ’15, but was sidelined with health problems. The Spaniard, who was the youngest driver in F1 history when he made his debut in 2009 at 19 years, 125 days, will reportedly concentrate on his burgeoning DJ career.
By Only Motors