Button eager for “long term” committment to McLaren

2015 F1 season

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Jenson Button says he was keen to agree a long-term commitment to McLaren as they begin their reunion with Honda in 2015.

McLaren CEO Ron Dennis confirmed Button had accepted a new two-year deal to stay at the team.

“I think we both agree that more than one year is a must,” said Button. “This is a new project and an exciting project, to be part of the legendary partnership of McLaren and Honda is not a one-year thing.”

“I’m very much looking forward to more than one year. I know we can’t really talk about the contract as such in detail but it’s not something I’m just here to be around for one year for.

“I’m here to compete, I’m here to fight for the world championship. Whether that’s in 2015 or not maybe it won’t be maybe it’ll be in future years, but I’m hopefully here for the long term.”

Button’s position at the team had been in doubt for several weeks, and Dennis said Button’s new deal comes with string attached.

“Jenson has his own hurdles to jump,” said Dennis, “some of which have been quite deliberately put in front of him from the perspective of assisting with the decision which of course I fully recognise has been quite a long time in coming.”

Dennis added he made “no apologies” for the time taken to announce their drivers for next season.

“We were faced with a remote possibility that we could overtake Ferrari in the constructors’ [championship] and I didn’t want to destabilise the last two races,” he explained. “We had a very important aero test that took place on the Saturday of Abu Dhabi, and I didn’t want to destabilise that test by having one driver motivated and one driver demotivated.”

“Then on the Tuesday following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix there was a Formula One Commission meeting and on the agenda were two or three things that had relevance to the decision-making process.

“As is widely known now there are some teams – including McLaren – that have an obligation to run three cars if the world championship grid falls below 16 cars. So I was balancing the possibility of that happening.”

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Keith Collantine
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38 comments on “Button eager for “long term” committment to McLaren”

  1. I’m surprised by the 2 year deal. That puts McLaren’s development programme on hold… What a difficult position !

    1. Well there are these ‘hurdles to jump’. I’m guessing he’ll need to jump them to get the second year, and they might be quite high.

    2. either way, congrats to Button. There certainly aren’t 20 better drivers than him, so on that basis I think he deserves to extend his career in F1.

    3. At least it will end speculation that Magnussen will return or that Vandoorne will get a seat.

      McLaren’s young drivers program has effectively ended. They probabably realized that it takes too long to break them in with all the tyre management and fuel saving. Hopefully they will have the good sense of letting Vandoorne go to another team if he wins GP2 next year.

      1. Another year in GP2 for Vandoorne before moving up to a backmarker team?

  2. Stuart Becktell
    11th December 2014, 15:52

    Do the number of years of the deal really matter? In the last 10 years, McLaren has cancelled contracts for Montoya, Alonso, Perez, and now presumably Magnussen. It doesn’t seem like they really care about holding onto drivers, and don’t care about developing young talent at their team either.

    1. I don’t know about the others, but I’m pretty sure Button and Magnussen only contracted until the end of this year.

  3. If Button honestly thinks he’s fighting for championships now then his friends and family need to take him aside, and explain to them that Fernando just turned him into the #2 driver, and that he will never have a chance of becoming WDC again

    1. I guess that’s one of ‘hurdles to jump’ Ron was on about!!

    2. you could have said the same when he partnered Hamilton at McLaren, and beat him in one season, and overall scored more points over Hamilton for McLaren as teammates. do not underestimate Button, he has earned his keep and McLaren and Ron Dennis know this. he will do better against Alonso then Raikonnen did. if he was in Rosbergs seat this year at Merc, he probably would have beaten Hamilton to the title.

    3. I definitely wouldnt go that far… he can still win another world championship if he’s finally provided with a good car. Button is ofen under rated, remember when he partnered Lewis, most people expected him to be no where near him. He however more than held his own against Hamilton and has soundly beaten his 2 ‘young talent’ team mates since. YES I agree Alonso will be a very tough if not the toughest team mate he’s had, but I think he can still keep up… especially with DRS ;-P

      1. He beat Hamilton in 2011.

        1. To be fair Lewis had a very bad year 2011. Relationship / Mind-management issues.

          I dig Button and wish him the best, but he is what he is. Amazing on his day, in the right car/conditions. Alonso is amazing non-stop over an entire season.

          1. Yes I think this is absolutely correct. I really admire JB but he does need the car to be set-up right for him. More so than Alonso.

      2. if he’s finally provided with a good car.

        Well, Button was provided with a good car in 2010 and a very good one in 2012.

        1. And won races in both those seasons, including MCLaren’s most recent win.

          1. In 2012 he should have won the championship considering he never had the reliability or pit-stop error problems Hamilton faced. Not a race or two.
            He has no excuses for 2012.
            He should be there winning when Hamilton was parking the broken car or when he was stuck in the pits. Instead he was fighting in the midfield like he was driving a Force India for most of the races.

    4. Usually even #1 drivers have a few hurdles to jump through. Schumacher had to prove himself in the Ferrari days by being ahead after a few races to get the full #1 treatment.

  4. None of these reasons for delay make any sense at all.

    If button/Alonso is the “hot property” then Magnusson’s deal could easily cover “if we run a third car, you’ll get it”.

    If motivation was a concern for aero tests then it’s not as if McLaren are short of test and reserve drivers.

    Every year we see drivers who are dropped mid season fight like mad to “prove their worth” with good results after the announcement (see Vergne this year) so the motivation argument is also nonsense.

    1. Basically what Dennis try to say is that they can’t afford Button requested salary if they need to field a third car.

  5. So all the teams have decided their lineup for next season already, this has to be the earliest it’s happened in long long time!

    1. I hear you can still apply for a seat at Caterham and Marusia ;)

  6. Hahaha – If you look at the comments under Magnussen’s Tweet of a picture of “The Terminator”, I think some have misunderstood the intention as it can be interpreted two ways.

    Please read with Arnold accent:

    “I’ll be back” – This is what I understood it to mean.


    “Terminated” – which is actually funnier but more negative so I do not think it was his intention

  7. It’s magic isn’t it, how the number of cars keeps falling that FOM must provide before teams must use a third car. First it was 20, then 18, now it’s become 16 and only if Bernie can’t prove he’s made an effort.
    By the start of next season it’ll be down to 6, it’ll be like a 2005 US Grand Prix every week.

  8. Button is basically “Alonso lite” without the qualifying speed or adaptability. He will find it very, very tough to match Alonso.

  9. I like Button, but two years is too much.

  10. After initially thinking that Button getting the seat might help Vandoorne, I’m starting to get worried …

    Vandoorne was Mclaren’s official reserve/third driver in 2014 but he appears nowhere on Mclaren’s communication today. Also, it hasn’t been confirmed officially Vandoorne will drive in GP2 next year. Does McLaren wants to shut down their Young Driver Programme? Eric Boullier gave hints in that direction.

    On a more bright note, he is managed by The Sport Partnership, who also manages Button.

    1. The Sport Partnership don’t manage Jenson, it’s the exact opposite, his long term manager is the very highly regarded Richard Goddard, who is a partner with Jenson, and I believe DC, in the Sport Partnership, they have a stable of very fine sportsmen and women under their management.

    2. Perhaps they could change the name to young driver career ending program.

  11. I really don’t understand JB’s motivation for staying on with McLaren. He could have chosen a honorable exit, beating his teammate in his final F1 year. Now he is setting himself up for a beating by Alonso, who will expose JB’s lack of pure speed / race talent (not trying to put JB down, but his strenght isn’t speed, but rather strategy and tire conservation). Instead he should have taken a seat with either Porsche or Audi in WEC. Here he could have gone for the double (F1 WDC + Le Mans LMP1 winner). This could have given him epic legend status ! Now he is only confirming, that he infact was the least talented F1 WDC ever. In my opion a very bad career plan.

    1. I don’t get it — in one sentence he’s a legend, in the next he’s confirming he’s the least talented WDC ever? All over the shop, much? Wait until the dust has settled in 2016 before making any judgements… I expect it will be close, but maybe a little horn-locking will result in Alonso dummy spitting and a shutdown of real competition.

    2. Well that is if you are certain he gonna get obliterated. If he doesn’t then instead of confirming his the least talented WDC he will be confirming he is better than many(like you for example) thought and making his image look a lot better and maybe even get a Ferrari drive in a year or two when Raikonnen goes back to enjoying his millions and rally activities.

  12. I always felt Alonso is overrated and Button is underrated. As people say if Alonso is so good, he should have been able to win atleast few races irrespective of Redbull/Merc dominance.

    After this year, I think Alonso’s market value will lower as I expect Button to beat him.

    1. Indeed, on paper it would appear Alonso will beat Button easily but I’m really not sure that will happen.

      I was one of those who said Button won’t stand a chance against Hamilton so I will not say the same with Button vs Alonso, I will wait and see, can’t wait!

  13. In my opinion it is only a long term commitment if he is able to jump the hurdles Ron is referring to, I expect them to be a number of performances targets (points, qualifying position and so on) relative to Alonso, that he need to meet if he does not want his contract cancelled by the end of 2015.

  14. In the mean time we have all seen what contracts are worth… Seems like Alonso is in the driver’s seat but from the outside it looks all 4 drivers are under a lot of pressure… Don’t crack I guess, SV will have to blow them away in GP2 next year, many before him have found that very hard when it is so clearly expected, if FA doesn’t blow JB away his rep will take a hit, JB will have to show something special and KM… Well don’t really know what or how he can do it…

  15. I guess the fact that Button wanted a two year deal is one of the reasons for the decision delay so that makes the Mclaren accusers look more like fools.
    Considering Mclaren have two youngsters waiting i bet Mclaren wanted to make a one year deal and see if they will renew or not for the other but Button wouldn’t accept anything but a two year deal.

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