McLaren wants to convince Button to stay

2015 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

McLaren still wants to convince Jenson Button to stay with them in 2016, according to managing director Jonathan Neale.

Button’s future in F1 is in doubt and he admitted yesterday he is missing the excitement of being able to compete at the front.

During today’s FIA press conference Neale said McLaren was keeping the lines of dialogue open with its driver.

“We’re contracted with him, we want him to stay, we like him very much,” said Neale. “But if your driver doesn’t really want to be in the seat then we have to respect that.”

“I really hope we’ve done enough between us to continue those discussions with him and have the confidence to have him with us. That’s what we’d like.”

2015 F1 season

Browse all 2015 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

45 comments on “McLaren wants to convince Button to stay”

  1. McLaren spent all last year treating Button like an unwelcome annoyance. They left his contract negotiations hanging until after the season ended, as though he was a midfield rookie who wasn’t worth securing. Yes, they’ve got two young drivers they need to promote, but the ill-concealed contempt wasn’t necessary.

    This year, they’ve spent all year praising him and ensuring they don’t present the slightest prospect of shoving him out the door, even with Stoffel dominating gp2.

    I suppose it’s different when you discover you’ve got the worst car on the grid, and the bloke you’re trying to get rid of turns out to be an important figure to the only commercial partner you’ve got left.

    Even if that partner is delivering the worst engine in living memory.

    1. Agreed, McLaren obviously didn’t expect the engine to be so bad, they probably thought worse case scenario would be equivalent to Renault.
      Just a quick thought I had, maybe they don’t want Stoffel in a car they know won’t be competitive, hurting his and McLarens image even more as he has been tipped to be McLarens wonder boy

      1. His stats will be affected certainly. Not that they mean much actually….

      2. maybe they don’t want Stoffel in a car they know won’t be competitive, hurting his and McLarens image

        @David Good Point. If those are the thoughts at McLaren then it is even worse. Button should leave right now. It is just pure insulting to be considered as the person to fill the space until the car is getting good and then throwing him off.

        “Oh BTW the car is fast now….We dont need your services any more…we have fast drivers !!!! ”

        Oh Ron When will you ever treat Button with respect. All these talks about button being good are coming from Eric Boullier and not Ron Dennis. I dont think Ron still cares much for Jenson. So …..

        I guess Button is considered by Ron as the Whitmarsh boy who was eventually although indirectly responsible for suffocating Ron’s own prodigy “Hamilton” and pushing him out of Mclaren. BTW Lewis should Thank Button for that now !!!!

    2. +1
      I hope button drags it out as long as possible then sticks 2 fingers up at McLaren and goes to WEC or something else more interesting. He’d instantly add viewing numbers wherever he goes.

      1. +1 +1 +1

        Revenge is sweet when it is served Cold during the Winter days !!!!!

    3. @hairs One could argue that they were considering whether they wanted a development driver or a young up and coming talent. Which is why they’re hanging onto him for dear life. If you look at the driver lineup you have both experienced drivers, and one that is arguably one of the best in the field. Why would any team want to give that up?

      Ultimately, if I was Stoffel, I’d be happy not to putt around in that lame Honda. At least in a Manor, drivers have some stability and have a chance of showing how consistent they can be, and how fast they are compared to their teammate, in a hope that a team further up the field will pick them up. In a Honda, you get no true measure, as it is constantly retiring, or limping around with problems, no driver can show any potential in such a car.

      1. @dragoll The “why would anyone want to give that up” argument applied last year as well, because Alonso was already signed. I think what’s changed since then is that last year McLaren assumed they were in a position of power to pick and choose their drivers, whereas this year they know they’re in the stuff for at least two more years, and no great driver is going to want to touch their cars with a barge pole.

        Button gives them a world champion, with a great reputation among sponsors, whose abilities aren’t in doubt, even if they’re not rated as highly as Alonso/Vettel/Hamilton. The questions around who should be in the seat haven’t changed, but the balance of power has.

        It’s quite interesting.

  2. What a difference a year makes…

    1. Literally just said that to my dad

  3. It sounds a lot more like McLaren are not exercising their option on him, with a much publicised pay increase that takes him to less than 50% of Alonso’s salary, and would instead like to re-sign him afterwards for less. At the same time they’re publically saying how much they’d him to stay.

    Jenson’s clearly been wrestling with a very difficult decision. Few drivers actually get to exit the sport on their terms and walk away from a drive. But he’s closer to the end of his F1 career than the beginning, and the prospect of driving an equally awful car for another year cannot be attractive.

    He seems happy though and has reconciled himself with his decision, no matter what that is. As a fan I feel as conflicted as he is – I don’t want him to leave but equally I don’t want to see him lead Manor racing around circuits for another 12 months whilst McLaren try and develop a reasonable car for 2017.

    1. It sounds a lot more like McLaren are not exercising their option on him

      They were saying on Sky this morning that its been suggested in the paddock this weekend that the deadline for them to take up there option on him has already expired & that the delay in any announcement is because there negotiating a whole new deal because of that option expiring.

  4. As a fan I feel as conflicted as he is – I don’t want him to leave but equally I don’t want to see him lead Manor racing around circuits for another 12 months

    exactly my thoughts @gregkingston

  5. Chris Evans made it clear a few days ago that Jenson has been approached for Top Gear (but debunking the whole Top Gear press briefing rumour that was meant to be happening in Japan). That must be a very difficult choice to make

  6. JB proved beyond any doubt hes as quick if not quicker than the various team mates. To pay Alonso twice the wage for whats been over the season no more than three tenths of a second is the main reason he should walk. Mclaren are over as a top team for at least two more years.

  7. I dont think Macca will be as poor next year as they have been this year. Probably decent mid-field.

  8. I don’t know why you’d want to convince a guy to stay in the sport. If he’s thinking about leaving, he surely has his reasons… how is he going to perform at the highest level if he almost retired?

    1. As mentioned above, after McLaren’s terrible performance this year they’ll be down on prize money. The fabled headline sponsor to replace Vodafone still hasn’t appeared either.

      There is probably very good commercial reasons for trying to keep Jenson on board. He has an advertising appeal and worldwide fan base far beyond anything that either Vandoorne or Magnussen could muster.

      McLaren treated Jenson pretty terribly last year, and now it looks like they’re the ones who need him more than he needs them.

  9. If only McLaren had a junior team like Toro Rosso. Then we would have Alonso, Button AND Vandoorne and Magnussen. All 4 are good enough to be in F1.

    1. Mclaren is the Junior team, what they need is a sister team at the front of the grid

      1. Red Bull may be available soon…

    2. We don’t necessarily need another junior team, we just need more teams. Unfortunately the current financial set up isn’t attractive to potential team owners as they’re expected to cover all of the costs with few opportunities to generate income from prize money or sponsorship.

    3. A McLaren junior team would be great for Magnussen & Vandoorne just like STR is great for young Red Bull backed drivers, But these junior teams would basically be locking drivers not associated with those junior programs out of a possible F1 seat & thats why i’ve never been fond of the idea of junior of ‘B’ teams.

  10. Just let him go and rope in Magnussen instead

  11. I’m not so crazy about McLaren but I’d like Jenson to stay. I think he doesn’t even need to rub his tummy this time ;-)
    Well, I’ll try to persuade him to stay by using the most odd way – ‘I’ll fix Honda PU online!’ Call me a cheeky, when I am B-)
    Firstly, there is no need to change regulations because there is a workaround to rectify loss of performance. In my opinion whoever wrote the rules lacked a vision that these sophisticated devices should be developed in the future. To cut the long story the problem of Honda engineers is simple: “They are bunch of sophisticated people caught in primitive set of rules.” Luckily there is a way out of it.
    The most challenging aspect of engine’s technical regulations is: The same angluar velocity of turbine, shaft and compressor assembly, combined with MGU-H. Sophisticated people would try to balance turbo boost pressure by using MGU-H which leads to abundunce of complications, such as clipping. There is a simple way of avoiding that, not as straitforward as simple though. Please, don’t laugh. A bloody POP OFF VALVE! While pop-off valve takes care of turbo boost pressure to stay within the limits, at the same time, additional fuel injection to the engine would create abundunce of exhaust gasses – waste gate sealed – to drive the turbine and MGU-H unit in harvesting mode. According to technical regulations there is limitless amount of energy to go directly between MGU-H and MGU-K unit. By doing that, in harvesting mode, you have a simple way of avoiding complete discharge of batteries during a complete lap. It’s a first Kirchhoffs law, the amount of current taken from MGU-H doesn’t have to be drained from batteries. Simple as that. The job of power electronics guys ;-) That’s not so simple, sorry.
    In my opinion it is far less damaging to take off the turbo boost by pop-off compared to losing hot gasses trough waste-gate and far less complicated than using MGU-H to do the trick. However, in my opinion waste-gate should be shortly opened while MGU-H rev’s up turbo charger assembly to avoid return of exhaust back to engine. Odd indeed. Quite the opposite to what is usually done with waste gate and pop off. However, it solves the trick.
    So, I’m sure penny will drop finaly and Jenson will stay to be happy ever after. Jenson! You’re staying, aren’t you!?

    1. If you have compressed air bleeding off a lot you are wasting alot of energy, energy being in short supply with only 100 kilos of fuel available. So your solution is too costly in terms of energy. There are 2 key parameters to this engine formula, 1- Total joules of energy deployed from 100 litres of fuel. 2- Peak power delivery at peak fuel flow. I think Honda have trouble in both areas, it is easy to say the ICE is powerful, but that is irrelevant really, for an extreme example, even if the ICE made zero HP, so long as the MGUH transferred 900hp to the MGUK you would have a competitive power unit. It may prove that harvesting energy in a turbine is more efficient method than using 6 pistons, and that the ICE only gets fitted to fulfill the regulations. just remember that all F1 cars would likely have gone to gas turbine if they hadn’t been banned years ago for lack of manufacturer relevance.

  12. As much as I like Jenson I’d actually like to see him leave because I’d love McLaren to put Stoffel Vandoorne in the car as he’s a really exciting prospect & is far too good to spend 2016 sitting on the sidelines.

    Jenson has had a great career in F1, He’s won races & a championship & I just can’t see him achieving any more than he already has, Especially if Mclaren are going to be stuck in the mid-field for another year or 2. Been in F1 just for the sake of been in F1 with little to no hope of matching past success (Given the equipment) isn’t worth it when there are other opportunities out there that will not only provide a new challenge but also the prospect of achieving new successes (WEC for instance).

    I’d miss his character as he always gives fun interviews & all that but that loss would more than be made up for by having an exciting & very fast new talent on the grid in Vandoorne.

    1. @stefmeister Fair comment but if next year’s car is as bad as this year’s then no driver let alone a rookie to F1 is going to look exciting and very fast in it, just as FA and JB both as WDC’s have been handcuffed this year. A year in this year’s Mac could spell the end for an F1 rookie’s career, so I don’t know how excited you should be about him going somewhere where he will not be able to shine.

    2. I know what you mean there, I would like Button’s career to end more happily than this season’s McLaren will allow so part of me wants him to stay for one more year, but I agree that Vandoorne has stormed GP2 this year in the same way that Lewis Hamilton did (future world champion, need I say more?) and Nico Hulkenberg did (I am starting to have my doubts about his ultimate talent, but he has never had the car to conclusively prove whether he’s a Fernando Alonso or a Giancarlo Fisichella). He is certainly a far more convincing champion than the likes of Giorgio Pantano and Jolyon Palmer who each had several attempts before winning, and fully deserves a shot at F1. I think he’ll ultimately prove to be a better driver than Magnussen, who I think would be better served trying to get another F1 seat rather than waiting for an opening at McLaren.

      Without wanting to stray too far off-topic, the more I look at it, Vandoorne’s GP2 record reminds me rather a lot of Nick Heidfeld’s record in Formula 3000 – runner up in his first season and dominant champion in his second. Heidfeld was viewed as a future McLaren driver back then although ultimately never got a seat there despite a couple of near misses (Kimi beat him to the seat in 2002, and I believe he was a contender to replace Heikki for 2010 before Button switched from Brawn/Mercedes). Could we end up saying the same about Vandoorne?

      My ideal situation for 2016 would have been if Raikkonen had retired, Bottas had taken the Ferrari seat and Button had gone back to where he started at Williams, where he’d have had a reasonably competitive and reliable car with the Mercedes engine and could have had an enjoyable swansong with the Grove team. I guess Jenson going back to Williams was never meant to happen. Truth be told I’d rather Raikkonen retire than Button, as I think his best days are definitely now behind him and he’s just winding down his career now (kind of like Coulthard at Red Bull, but in a competitive car, which makes it more frustrating – at least it felt like Coulthard was helping a new team develop) whereas Button seems to have been able to keep Alonso honest this year as much as we can tell with the limitations of the McLaren-Honda package.

      1. Magnussen is younger than Vandoorne and beat him solid when they racer against each other – what do you build your conclusion on?

        1. Consider that when Magnussen beat Vandoorne in WSBR 3.5 it was Kevin’s 2nd season in that championship & Vandoorne’s 1st.

          In his 1st year in WSBR 3.5 Vandoorne scored 4 wins, 10 podiums, 2nd in championship. In comparison in Magnussen’s 1st year in that category he only scored 1 win, 3 podiums & finished 7th in the championship.

  13. If his heart is not in it then no amount of money will change that. Even having the fastest and most competitive car might not change that. There is no more money and there is no fastest car – this we know – but is JB’s heart still in it? Maybe not given recent comments from him.

    I think JB probably is the sort that won’t quit until the ‘task’ is completed and finished, that task being developing the car and becoming champion. So leaving is leaving without the job being done, something that goes against what he is about.

  14. Thinking about this some more, I believe this may be Jenson playing hardball. Look at the scenario: He all but admits he’s going to retire at the end of this season. You cannot possibly put a different interpretation on his earlier remarks. He says he is going to make an announcement at his “home race” – Japan this weekend.

    Honda would have been appalled! It’s their race track, their engine and their reputation on the line. To have a favourite ‘son’ of Japan retire from his career at Suzuka of all places, because the engine/car is no good, would have sent management and shareholders looking for the window to jump from. Result? No press conference, mixed messages and suddenly, Jenson is back in play again.

    I think someone has played McLaren to the hilt here….

  15. Well, 5 years of McStrugle, he must feel like Alonso in Ferrari, maybe he needs to get a seat at McLaren… Or in this case Ferrari, second best team around.

  16. Jenson button is a very good driver still in the top five in f1.McLaren is in a transition period it may take time to reach where they are belong to be but it is very sad to see that one of the best driver and another good driver struggling for championship points.really missing Alonso’s classic drives and Buttons great drives in changing track conditions.A three way championship fight with Merc,Ferrari and McLaren will be epic.Hope McLaren will bounce back strongly.

  17. i think too many ppl think f1 is a popularity contest,,its not.its all about wether the driver is still good enough to do the job.if not get rid.jenson is now past his best,and mclaren have alonso.alonso is all they need when it comes to experience and helping mclaren move in the right direction.alonso will show mclaren the true performance of the car alot more often than jenson will,which means alonso is the better driver to look at,when it comes to developing the car.jenson is a nice fella,but mclaren dont need 2 veterans on the team.they need a strong young driver who can learn from alonso.

  18. As I understand it, one of the major drawbacks with the Honda engine is related to the design and placement of the MGU-H, which is situated between the two rows of cylinders. Amongst the reasons why it is situated there is McLaren’s own design requirements. If McLaren had given Honda more freedom and space then maybe the engine Honda could have supplied them with would have been better.
    The problem McLaren now have is their income is dropping, meaning they will have less money to pay staff and to do the necessary research required to produce a competitive car, and high on the list of people expected to take pay cuts will be Alonso and Button (who probably have “poor car performance” clauses in the their contracts), and high on the list of necessary research is how to get better performance out of that engine.

    1. Their income is dropping? Is that a fact? Somehow I find that hard to believe.

      1. Be finishing lower down the constructors standings there losing a significant amount of prize money.

        Additionally there losing some of there backers for next year.

  19. I do actually wonder if this is more about Jenson negotiating a new contract with an extension to 2017. If McLaren are so keen to keep him maybe he is trying to take advantage of this. Let’s face it the car is unlikely to be on terms with it’s rivals until 2017 at least.

  20. Hmmm… Jenson Button in F1, let’s see. Published his first biography in 2002, 4 years before actually winning his 1st grand prix (and that was well into his 100 races). Was in the center of one of the most notorious contracts scandals in 2004 (will he drive for Williams/won’t he drive for Williams), once again, before actually achieving anything noteworthy, like a win. Did thoroughly beat poor Rubens in the first half of 2009, and thus became 2009 WC (thank you very much FIA for legitimizing controversial DDs and thus deciding that year’s championship before it even started). Came higher on points than Hamilton in 2011, a particularly accident-ridden year for Lewis, and scored slightly more over 3 years in Macca than Hamilton due to that. Still, comprehensively lost 44/14 in qualifying over those years. And that’s where his achievements stop. After that it’s mostly whining on the team radio.

    So, taking the cue from all the RB bashers, good riddance Jenson ‘I have no grip’ Button. Just leave already!

    1. Winning a WDC is no small feat…by halfway through the season his advantage was gone and he still hung onto it. He’s no Senna, sure, but he’s still a WDC and deserves more credit than you’re giving him.

    2. Never fails it’s always about money. Can’t say I blame jenson one bit. Rather disingenuous of Neale to suggest it’s button who doesn’t want the seat. It’s like your employer saying you didn’t want to work there without saying they aren’t paying you market value. What is Jenson worth? 15 millions is roughly what half of alonso pay but claret wants to short change him.

    3. Lol spot on.

    4. Button is overrated! He will never win anything again.

Comments are closed.