Is this Button’s last year in F1?

McLaren has had its share of challenges so far in 2015 but they’ll face an additional challenge mid-September in trying to decide if they will keep veteran driver Jenson Button or promote one of their reserves drivers, Kevin Magnussen or Stoffel Vandoorne.

Magnussen was sent back down after spending a year as one of their main drivers in 2014 and while CEO Ron Dennis was keen to keep Kevin in the seat, the board voted for Button. It’s a politically charged issue involving Ron Dennis (25% owner), Mansour Ojjeh, the CEO of TAG Group Holdings (25% owner), and Sheik Mohammed Bin Essa Al Khalifa representing Bahrain’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (50% owner).

Button has a two-year deal but an option after the first year that the team can exercise and this would effectively show Button the door. This decision is said to be due sometime in September but could easily be delayed according to an article by Daniel Johnson over at the Telegraph.

Button isn’t the least expensive driver on the grid at $10 million per year and one has to assume that either reserve driver would be a more economic solution. Button would be 37 years old in 2016 and the team may have capitalized on his veteran feedback with no further need going forward.

It isn’t an issue of Button’s performance as the car has been a damp squib from day one but it could be about setting the future of the organization in motion. With Fernando Alonso in tow, Magnussen or Vandoorne might be an economic and future-thinking move. Perhaps the move Dennis was keen to make in 2015 but overruled in the boardroom?

The political jockeying for Magnussen or Vandoorne may also be tied to new sponsorship to offset the any expense they may represent and become a compelling option over Button.

Assuming Button may not be at McLaren in 2016, would he be likely to find another ride in Formula 1? Certainly Haas F1 would do well to hire the veteran and capitalize on his cunning skill in not only driving but car development as well.

Unlike some drivers who are unseated, Button would have options but perhaps those options may not be in Formula 1 if the Englishman is keen to follow his friend, Mark Webber, into the Le Mans series, WEC? As a Button fan, I would love to see him in F1 or WEC as long as he doesn’t stop racing. He brings a lot to motorsport and his absence would be sorely felt.

If Button does leave McLaren and does not stay in F1, it will be a sad day and unfortunate situation in that the F1 community didn’t get a chance to treat this year as Buttons’s farewell tour. Regardless of how you feel about Button, he’s an extremely popular driver amongst F1 fans and deserves a ride if not a proper send off.

Hat Tip: The Telegraph

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Junipero Mariano

My guess is that Button’s future hinges on how well the car gets sorted in the second half.

Dougahlos Haggerty

The guy hasn’t gotten a proper treatment since he came into formula 1 with williams. I would hope he gets a great car to still be competitive as he is one hell of a driver….the man will deliver. He sticks it to every teammate that he’s had including Lewis…and through all of Ron Dennis’ shenanigans JB stayed loyal. This is a crap way to end his f1 career if that is Macca’s thought process now.

Paul KieferJr

I think that a lot of it rigdes on Button’s emotions. He’s been toiling away in mediocrity due to the succky ride he drew with McLaren. I’m betting that he wants to get out of that outfit pretty fast, but who will want him? Haas would certainly be a possibility, but I don’t think we should leave Ferrari out of the mix if they decide to jettison Raikkonen.
However, at 37, he may well be considered too old for Formula 1. In that particular case, WEC may be the only option he has left.

jakobusvdl

Across at the JA on F1 site, the posters have decided that Button should jettison McLaren and take up the soon to be vacant seats at Ferrari, Williams, or Haas. Then lots of comments that somehow bring ‘how wonderful Hamilton is’ into the discussion. (One reason FBC is so great is it isn’t so nationalistic – thanks FBC posters and Todd) So while I think there could be value to McLaren-Honda, in keeping two mechanically sympathetic drivers on board next season, the team need to manage their budget and build for the future, so I agree with you and think… Read more »

stammer

I would remind all here that Hill was 36 when he won the WDC and Mansell 39. Then at age 40 Nigel won IndyCar to boot. The fitness levels of drivers are light years beyond what they were then and if Button can contemplate representing the UK in Triathlon at the next Olympics, he is a long way from retirement. I think he just gets faster, year on year.

jakobusvdl

And they were both with Williams!
So it could be a genius move for Button join Williams, on a three year deal – wdc at 38, 39 and 40!
I’d love to see him carry on in F1, but when Team budgets are so constrained, I suspect teams will find it hard to afford his experience.
(And was Mansell’s Indy championship with Hass? Maybe they would like JB)

stammer

Newman-Haas – indeed it was.

Tom Firth

Really miss Newman-Haas, sad how it ended :(

JakobusVdL

It was a different Haas?
Tell me more, are they related?

Tom Firth

As far as I’m aware is zero relation between the two, just a shared surname. Carl Haas (Newman-Haas) ran that team with Paul Newman from the early 80’s forwards, and it was incredibly successful, in CART and Champcar, Paul Newman died in 2008, but Newman-Haas-Lanigan as by then it was known, continued on till the end of the 2011 Indycar Season then ran out of money and the team no longer exists. Carl Haas has also retired from public life in recent years. Carl Haas additionally ran Alan Jones in F1 with Beatrice-Haas in the 80’s for abit, a project… Read more »

Andreas Möller

I fear this might be JB’s last season in F1. The way the McLaren has performed this season, he might even be happy to get out, who knows? I assume he’d be more than welcome in WEC, and he might enjoy being able to eat again… Come to think of it, what happened to Magnussen? At the tests, the team have used Stoffel Vandoorne and Oliver Turvey (both designated as “test and development drivers”), and both of them also race in other series. Meanwhile, Magnussen, whose title is “reserve driver”, meaning he should be ready to jump in the car… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Wasn’t Button’s relationship with Honda considered to be part of the reason that McLaren kept him this season? If so, provided he is making the technical inputs that he is renowned for it doesn’t look like Honda have made the kind of progress they would have needed to move on to the next phase of the project – so every reason to keep him in the seat. Also if they have a fragile P.U, and there are going to be further restrictions on driver aids and coaching, the balance might be swinging back to their being an advantage for an… Read more »

stammer

McHonda will not be competitive for at least another two seasons. Alonso will be gone and so will Button. Ferrari must have their eye on the latter as will Williams and Haas. Alonso could be tempted back to Renault?

jakobusvdl

Good comment stammer, I guess they both knew that they couldn’t expect instant success, but so far the performance of p.u and car must be as bad as even the biggest pessimists would have predicted. It could indeed be Alonso who jumps team. A Renault team would be another building project so maybe he’d be more tempted by a seat in a competitive team (especially if he was prepared to drop his salary demand), how about Alonso to Williams alongside his old mate Massa, or back in a Ferrari as #2 to Vettel, or into Mercedes alongside his 2007 /2008… Read more »

stammer

None of the above, I believe. Vandoorne has just jettisoned his Hammond/Button management link and this is ominous methinks. I believe Bottas has already got a Ferrari offer in his pocket for next year and if he stays at Williams JB heads to Maranello or if Valeri does move, Jens is at Williams. Button could easily drag a mega sponsor with him too. Alonso will have Vandoorne breathing down his neck but he has proved to be a better developmental prospect than Magnussen who may go to ART or HAAS.

jakobusvdl

Hi Stammer, you seem well informed, so I’ll bow to your informed comment over my uninformed attempts to stir controversy ;-)
Is that ART, as in back to GP2 for Magnussen? That would be an unusual move. Would he need that to keep his super licence eligibility?

stammer

ART have a tie-up with McLaren and would be a Junior team as such. That is the current chat.

Tom Firth

If it does happen that ART join F1, which I think is unlikely. It isn’t going to happen for ’16 now so that leaves Haas for Magnussen and either Mclaren or bust for Vandoorne. Magnussen may be better off breaking the contract links with Mclaren and doing what his dad did, in continuing his career elsewhere in the sport.

stammer

I think ART is a serious prospect and they are in advanced chat with the FIA and Bernie. Nicholas Todt handles the commercial side of things for them and they are heavily involved in GP2 and 3. The problem is an engine. Obviously, Honda would be the natural choice. I think Macca must design a new car around the current engine. This was what everyone thought was happening but clearly wasn’t. Personally, I see no alternative to a B spec car without too much clever crap on it.

Tom Firth

Honda would indeed be the natural choice, ART already employ Honda’s young driver in it’s GP2 team, through Mclaren-Honda links, alongside Mclaren’s own Vandoorne. My hesitation isn’t in whether ART are capable or whether Nicholas Todt or Frederic Vassuer would make it happen, both have extensive knowledge of running highly successful junior teams. It is solely that ART have been down this rabbit hole before of forming an exploration of an F1 team and pulled out before it reached fruition, so I’m a little cautious. It might happen for ’17 though. I suspect it depends how the politics plays out,… Read more »

MIE

Putting a young, inexperienced driver into the current McLaren would effectively kill their F1 career. Is anyone seriously considering either Sauber driver for a drive in a top team? They have had much better results than either McLaren driver, and with the extremely limited running that McLaren is able to do this year, a rookie would be nowhere near the pace of the World Champions the team currently have driving.

Paul KieferJr

So, who would you want to replace Button? Nothing personal, but he is getting a bit long in the tooth and that salary of his ain’t exactly cheap. Happens all the time in sports: When the end of a veteran’s career is nigh, it’s time to prepare a young one ready to go so that when the time comes he’s ready.

MIE

I would keep Button for another year, and hope that by the end of 2016 the car was somewhere near competitive. That way when a young hopeful drives the car you get a fair assessment of their talent.

jakobusvdl

I suspect that you’re a more compassionate character than Ron Dennis, Dave. I doubt that whether a bad car is going to hurt a young drivers career would be a factor in his considerations.

MIE

I would agree with you that Ron Dennis is going to be thinking of the team and not the drivers. I just think Button would be better for the team than an inexperienced driver who is struggling to learn F1 in an uncompetitive car.

stammer

….and Alonso isn’t long in the tooth and expensive? Please.

dude

Yes, Grace would hope so. Probably for Kimi too. He should be looking at WEC options.

peter riva

Button gave a great interview a year or so ago – anyone think he could take over the moribund NBCSN coverage? PLEASE???

gerald springs

don’t know why people think Ferrari would want button now, I think that time has come and gone, I think Ferrari want someone younger to partner vettel, hulkenburg or bottas will get that Ferrari seat for sure if kimi goes