McLaren keep Button on board for 2016

2016 F1 season

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Jenson Button will continue to drive for McLaren in 2016.

Button and McLaren have endured a difficult season with their uncompetitive Honda power unit, and at one stage it appeared as though Button would call time on his 16-year F1 career.

However the 2009 world champion said he chose to continue with the team because he believes the Honda programme will eventually bear fruit.

“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,” said Button.

“But I have been a McLaren driver for six seasons now, and in that time I have got to know [McLaren CEO] 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.”

“That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, he and I have decided to continue our partnership; and, as soon as I had made that decision, straight away I realised it was the correct one.”

Dennis said he had chosen not to exercise an option in the two-year contract Button signed last year which allowed him to cut the deal short.

“As I have made clear whenever I have been asked about the subject, Jenson’s current contract is of two years’ duration,” he said.

“There is a ‘terminate after year one’ option that McLaren could have triggered if we had wished to do so, but, once it became clear from my many conversations with Jenson that he remained as enthusiastic and as committed and as focused as ever, that option immediately became an irrelevance.”

“That being the case, Jenson will race for McLaren-Honda next year, under the terms and conditions as set out in the two-year contract that both parties entered into a year ago.”

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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...

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90 comments on “McLaren keep Button on board for 2016”

  1. Great news, but I wonder if this is just the existing contract or whether it has now been renegotiated to look beyond 2016. From the comments Button gave last night it sounds like he’s looking at 2017 too.

    1. Good decision – and let’s face it – if Honda again do not perform in 2016 then 2017 I think is out for McLaren anyway.
      I’m glad for Jenson – he is the greatest ambassador for this sport and puts the human factor back.
      To many think that you can only succeed by being ruthless – computers are ruthless – humans have emotions, which people should never lose – those who do will destroy themselves and only a matter of time when they have to reboot to see sense.

    2. Yeah it sounds like he’ll be around beyond 2016. Oh how I wish we can have a championship Button vs Alonso vs Hamilton vs Vettel vs Raikkonen again.

  2. At least did they not wait until December like last year, still i wonder what they will do with their junior drivers.

    1. Liam McShane (@)
      1st October 2015, 10:03

      I know Magnussen has already stated that he would move on if he did not get a McLaren drive for next year.

      1. And Vandoorne is too good for this team.

        1. The Blade Runner (@)
          1st October 2015, 11:30

          The team that has helped nurture his talents through its “young driver programme” for almost 3 years? Seems a little over the top of you!

          I would suggest that he is too good for McLaren’s 2015 car. Then again, so is Pastor Maldonado!

          1. In the last three years McLaren has gone nowhere but backwards. Button, Alonso, Magnussen, Vandoorne and even Perez all deserve better than how they are treated as McLaren keeps working on their ever lasting stint of bad decisions.

          2. McLaren’s car is a good reflection of their team tbh.

        2. And Vandoorne is too good for this team.

          And don’t forget he already considered himself too good for a Toro Rosso …

          1. No he didn’t. Torro Rosso was only a one year deal and he didn’t wanted to turn his back on Mclaren, since they have been supporting him during his GP2 career.

      2. To driving the Vette..?

  3. Terrible news. Although a fun chap after Maldonado he is on my list of drivers that need to go.

    1. I’m sorry they didn’t consult your list.

    2. Completely disagree. Button is a great driver, a great sportsman and a world champion. There are 3 drivers in my opinion who need to go. Maldonado, Ericsson and Raikkonen. I know saying kimi won’t be a popular choice but he’s past it. Terrible in quali and not much better in the race. Fluked his championship and hasn’t really been a contender before or since. The other two are just wasting seats.
      Some people would probably put massa in there too, but I think he’s driving well, got tonnes of experience and is giving his team mate a run for his money so definitely stay

      1. So basically we agree. You just think that of RAI, and I of RAI and BUT.

  4. Not a bad decision as such but it makes McLaren’s young driver programme look even more useless and makes you wonder how much they really believe in Alonso’s commitment. If McLaren are ready to keep paying Button big bucks (it is not like sponsors are pouring a lot of money into the team at the moment), then they are obviously afraid to be left without an experienced driver in difficult times. Also, Alonso is not mentioned in the statement and the remark that “today is about JB” is not a convincing explanation for that.

    1. @girts Button/Vandoorne and tens of millions to fix the engine and car wouldn’t be a bad position for McLaren to be in!

  5. I’m in two minds about this, I’m glad Button is still around, but I wanted to see Magnussen and Vandoorne given a chance.

    1. Magnussen has already been given a chance – he wasn’t good enough.

      It always amazes me that people on this and other sites claim that Button is washed up and no good and that he should be replaced by…the guy he utterly destroyed in 2014.

      Good logic.

      1. That was Magnussen’s rookie year. Drivers to tend to perform a lot better in their next season.

        Although I agree Magnussen didn’t really impress that much. It’s especially sad how McLaren keep stringing Magnussen along. Seemingly only as a bargaining chip to get Button to agree to a lower salary or something.

        1. @patrickl Rookie year is when you need to make a statement that you are the next big thing.

          As evident with Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and currently Verstappen.

          1. That’s pretty much implied by the last paragraph yes.

            Although, Vettel, Alonso and Verstappen only beat another rookie team mate. In the case of Vettel and Alonso a very poorly performing one at that. Hamilton was the only one who came in and beat a WDC class driver in his rookie season.

            Besides, Kvyat was annihilated by Vergne and yet Kvyat has the seat. Team owners don’t just go by the results. They can see through that and still pick the driver with less points, because they see more “potential”.

        2. Yeah, except McLaren know what Hamilton did against Alonst in his rookie year.

      2. Can’t believe what you are saying.. Kevin Magnussen, rookie year.. first race in Australia, out-paced the most experienced driver on the grid, Jenson Button.. in the bliddering rain.

        That is just incredibly impressive.

        2017 we will see Magnussen and Vandoorne in the McLaren. And maybe Alonso in Renault

        1. Can’t believe what you are saying.. Kevin Magnussen, rookie year.. first race in Australia, out-paced the most experienced driver on the grid, Jenson Button.. in the bliddering rain.

          That is just incredibly impressive.

          And he did nothing particularly impressive afterwards…

        2. @dam00r
          Lets be fair! IIRC Button got yellows in his FL in qualy, so he started out of position. At the start Hamilton had some PU issues, Magnussen went past the ill Merc and finished 3rd on track, while Button with the same car had to actually fight to finish 4th on track which became 2nd and 3rd after RIC DSQ. I did not see any outpacing in that race. But I do remember flashes of speed in Magnussen, just not too often, and in those rare times he had the speed, he usually made a rookie mistake. Im sure that with more experience he would be a fast and reliable driver, but Im not sure about championship material, more like a Bottas v1.1.

  6. So F1 doors seem now to be already shut for Vandoorne, at least for 2016. Very bad news.

    1. It’s good for him as long as they give him a few practices to drive and put him as a third driver.
      He will get used to the procedures and the people and the life of traveling in F1 and look a little at the technical side etc and then be fully ready to take full advantage of his first season in 2017 instead of looking to get used to the environment along with trying to impress.

  7. Very interesting. I’m quite glad by this. Hoping that next year there is one huge mad crazy farewell party for Raikkonen, Massa and Button and they all bow out on their own terms. I feel like one more year is the right thing for him but at the same time, it clogs up Mclaren’s system for Vandoorne.
    And as someone said a few days ago, it’s very insulting if they are just keeping Button so Vandoorne doesn’t look so rubbish and ruin his reputation in next years car. Still interesting though that Mclaren can justify the expensive world champions when it clearly isn’t making a difference in the short term. If he wants to stay though at least Dennis has shown some respect and done it early this time.

  8. I’d rather Vandoorne be given a chance. Magnussen didn’t deliver for me in the races. In qualifying, he was great but other than that, way to inconsistent. Especially his Australia performance, really disappointing rest of season. Kind of like how Felipe Nasr is this year, unfortunately

    1. @mattypf1 It’s difficult to judge with Nasr. He hasn’t had a consistently performing car, and looking at the actual results, he has been outperforming his more experienced teammate for most of the season, and has outscored him a fair amount.

  9. I read this differently. Alonso is going to go, and Jenson is the old hand to partner Vandorne next season. Alonso will have a year off and be back in 2017 at either Mercedes or whatever happens to the Red Bull team by then.

    1. Paul (@frankjaeger)
      1st October 2015, 10:59

      He ain’t got time to be taking sabbaticals. I think he’ll stick it out, the Mercedes’ roster is full indefinitely, and at the moment it’s anyone’s guess who could be challenging them in the future

      1. Yep.

        I think he’ll take a year off, drive at Le Mans and do a few other things he’s been wanting to do and set himself up for one last push to get another F1 championship in either 2017 or 2018 (then retire). I can’t believe he’ll stick around for another year of Honda woes in 2016.

        There is also McLaren’s finances to consider. They can’t keep paying Alonso and Button and finish 9th in the constructors. It doesn’t stack up and Vandorne is ready for a seat there anyway at next to no money.

        I could be wrong, I dunno, but I can’t imagine Alonso sticking around for another year at McLaren regardless of what contract he has. I think it was a gamble to see what the Honda engine would be, no doubt there is a get out clause in the contract for such an eventuality.

        1. No offense, but that’s one of those “I just think it because I think it”-theories. There has been nothing to indicate that Alonso would take a year off, or that he would have any better chances a year later. It’s just out of absolutely nowhere. Even the moving-to-Renault-rumors have more meat than this.

          1. Of course, its a theory not based on any facts but just feeling. I just don’t see Alonso staying at McLaren next year at all.

        2. His contract really has no getaway clauses. He sacrificed that for the 40mil high pay.

    2. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      1st October 2015, 11:53

      @john-h, you could be right about Alonso being the one that leaves after this season.
      Alonso has only mentioned that he has a 3-year contract (fact), and that he “will not go anywhere else”. Thus that could always mean not racing/sabbatical next year.
      But he also said that Mclaren will be his ‘final team’. That could only mean that if Alonso were to leave at the end of the season, that he would step out of F1 altogether.

      Personally, I hope not. He still remains one of the best racers in F1 (we saw that in Suzuka), and I hope to see him back in a competitive car soon.

      1. I don’t know why there is so much speculation about Alonso. Although many think he would be justified to leave, he knows once Honda gets the ER system issues solved over the winter, the car will be competitive for podiums. If however, next year is as bad as this one, he would be a fool to stay.

      2. Alonso said that Ferrari would be his last team.

    3. Lewis is not leaving Mercedes any time soon and with him there Merc don’t need Alonso. And Red Bull are not interested in Alonso. If they had wanted to, they could have signed him during the last years of Webber’s career, they could have signed him after Webber left, they could have signed him after Vettel left. If Alonso leaves F1, I don’t see him coming back.

      1. Strangely enough, RedBull tried and tried to sign Alonso for 2009. How different the F1 landscape might have looked if he took that drive!

        For all his personal flaws, no true F1 fan can dispute his gigantic talent. It seems, however, that his talent for picking the right team at the right time is on the absolute opposite end of the scale!

        1. who knows. by now alonso might have been the semi-forgotten world champion number 2 to the younger team favorite number 1. maybe they thought he knows about the requirements of the position. thanks to hamilton.

        2. Says who? Alonso? People who work for Alonso? People who spread rumors for Alonso? Journalists? Cameramen? Red Bull spy? lol
          Teams are always talking to all the drivers. If we are to believe every “strong” rumor, Vettel might have been driving McLaren Honda in Alonso’s place, Alonso might have been in Mercedes, and Rosberg could be teammates with Raikkonen.

          1. Alonso said so. Several times.

        3. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Shades of Jean Alesi joining Ferrari in Alonso’s career choices. Joining Renault was probably the logical thing to do in 2008, they had won back to back titles in the recent past lest we forget. But I remember when he left Mclaren there were rumours that both Honda and Red Bull were interested in him. And Honda became Brawn for 09 and then of course Mercedes. And Red Bull had Newey who nailed the new regulations from 09 onwards.

          He does deserve a third title. Sadly I think his time has run out to ever get it.

    4. Mercedes and RBR are not interested in Alonso, he’s more trouble than he is worth!
      I think he is hot headed and liable to explode into rage at any time. I think he would be wise to see how the winter testing goes with the 2016 car before retiring from F1 or pushing on. Ron Dennis is a wise old sole and may suspect this, and this may have had a bearing on Button’s contract. He needs at least one experienced, proven driver.

  10. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    1st October 2015, 10:58

    Great news. Solid driver who can deliver points.

    I too would like Stoffen to get a place but Button’s been given some absolute dogs these last few years, not since 2012 has he had a half decent car so he deserves another chance before he retires.

    The Haas line is too much of a gamble and that’s pretty ironic because anything McLaren make nowadays is becoming a bit of a gamble, and I don’t think it’ll be ever as good as Ferrari so that’s kinda pointless to move away. Renault same story.

    I can’t wait to see those McLaren mechanics go absolutely nutz when they get back on top!

    1. More like “Great news. Solid driver who can deliver championships.”
      Button wasn’t driving a pos for only 4-5 years of his career.

      McLaren mechanics practice some more pit stops.

  11. Twist:

    McHonda produces a stunning car for Jenson and he retires a world champ.


    1. His Brawn championship was less likely, so anything could happen.

    2. McHonda produces a stunning car for Jenson and he retires a world champ.

      A double world champ you mean!

  12. Happy to hear this news, but I really do feel for Magnussen and Vandervoone. Both are more than good enough to be in F1 (maybe even future world champions I reckon) and now they might have to leave McLaren completely to seek a race seat elsewhere but where? All teams are taken, and Haas has stated he wants experience

    1. Haas has already got experience, Grosjean. They could also go for an young charger, ie Vandoorne, but more likely Rossi though.

  13. Logical decision for McLaren, but what a blow for Vandoorne!

  14. Translation: “Ron Dennis agreed to my financial demands so I stayed.”

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      2nd October 2015, 14:46

      Jenson out smarted Ron Dennis on this one- I don’t think even Senna done that too often! Jenson needed to be able to come good with his threat to walk away, and that was no issue- head to WEC with his old mate Webber for a while, if not pick up 12 million pounds! Ron Dennis knows he needs two drivers like this to bring in money!

      I would have rather see him walk than be where he has been this year in 2016 again- both don’t belong there, so here is hoping the great McLaren make some good progress for next year!!!

    2. +++

      I think it’s clear that Ron was trying to wriggle out of the pay deal that had been agreed and was threatening to ditch him through the option if he didn’t lower his price. In the end, Ron blinked first, good for Jenson!

  15. Glad to see Button staying. His dedication to the team is beyond doubt, maybe comparable to Mika’s. I ‘d like to see Alonso finding shelter in Renault (like 2008), and Jenson partnering and becoming a tutor for Vandoorne. Because Jenson is a world class racer and a true gentleman, a fair-player.

  16. “Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future”

    Take a bow JB, you have just graduated from the school of Ronspeak.

    1. @geemac
      Ronspeak would be more like asking a questions yourself, and answering them yourself. :)
      “Do I believe Ron is utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties? Yes, I most certainly do. Do I see great success in our mutual future? Absolutely!”

      There you go. :)

  17. Such a waste of a seat which should have been given to a young driver by now. The most disappointing bit of F1 news I’ve heard all day. McLaren’s young driver programme has so much potential yet what are their drivers doing?

    1. why a waste, just being young and having a good reputation doesn’t mean that you are instantly a world beater, for every Verstappen there are numerous Magnussesn, Nasr, Ericsson, who simply aren’t really top draw. Button still regarded by many in the F1 paddock to be among the best out there so why drop him ? this is a tough sport and every team wants the best drivers, doesn’t matter if you’re 35 or 22 ! the only other reason that these teams want young guns is because they bring sponsorship and earn small salaries, Button, Alonso, etc bring sponsorship but also command big salaries because quite simply they have proven over time to b the best.

  18. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    1st October 2015, 13:22

    Ferrari should come in and nick Stoffel, put him in the other HAAS car, and let him and RoGro race it out for Kimis seat in 2017.

    1. that sir is one good idea!

  19. this is good news for F1, there is no doubt the guy is still in the top set of drivers and is still considered by many to be one of the best racers on the track. The cars from McLaren in recent years have been dogs and when they weren’t they have had pit stop & reliability problems. I tend to agree with previous comments that the has a sniff of Alonso leaving or at least now being under pressure to shut up and tow the line. with Button there they have massive experience so Alonso is less valuable and Van dorne could be catapulted in to learn . Button has equalled Alonso this year ( as much as you can draw any sort of comparison given state of the equipment) and in previous years has blown away other team mates or at least been equal to them ( Hamilton) , for some reason the guy gets bad comments and is underrated and yet those that are actually employed in the F1 circus reckon he is one of the best.

    1. PS…. can anyone offer a credible explanation why this is a waste of a seat ? if by some million to one chance Honda / McLaren get it right and produce a copy of the Mercedes for next year then surely JB would have a reasonable shot at challenging for WDC ?

      1. so would alonso and vandoorne?

  20. In a way it is kind of Mixed feeling.

    Happy to hear that Button’s Contract is extended , he deserves a good drive. But s McLaren a worth ride today I am not sure. I hope it is at least some level decent in 2016. Also happy that Button’s firm stand against Ron worked unlike the pathetic situation last year.

    On the other hand it also gives me a feeling that McLaren might just keep him like a development driver for 2016. They will take him out in 2017 once the car is near prime and bring in Stoffel Vandoorne. This is a god thing for Vandoorne but for Button he just served as a Test/Development driver although with a good pay check.

    As far as Kevin Mag is concerned he seemed to be nice chap. But he did not create a wow factor in his debut year besides Button although Dennis rates him higher than Button I guess.

    1. why do you guess that Dennis rates KM higher than JB, if that was the case then surely JB would have been replaced by KM for 2016 ?

      1. Ron Dennis wanted KM in the car for this year, and had he secured sponsorship with Lego, we would probably have seen KM instead of JB in the McLaren MP4-30H

        1. Then why did he pick Button, who costs a lot more?

          1. As per few reports, shareholders wanted Button to race instead of K Mag

  21. tend to agree, this has a sniff of something bigger to come, having sid that real pleased that JB will be around again next season.

  22. I’d like to offer my sympathies to Jenson at this difficult time.

    1. He’s got a bad car, sure, but why? He’s getting £15 million a year, and has just got the drive he wanted (he could have otherwise walked away).

  23. Jenson Button is a decent driver, but very political and can even beat Alonso in these games. JB joined hands with Whitmarsh and sidelined Lewis Hamilton and made himself the main driver in the team. This was one of the reasons Lewis left McL and he must be thanking his stars for it. JB has been making more adverse remarks about the current car than “GP2 Engine”, but got away with it. Now by planting the retirement story, made sure Ron had to cough up the money and sign him up. If McL are passed by Manor with Merc engines in 2016, JB shouldnt be complaining. Just shut up and put up , as he got his money and made the choice to stay

  24. Let’s just hope he does “not have to get good at being lapped”!

  25. Duncan Snowden
    1st October 2015, 15:23

    Well I never. Gosh, I am surprised. Who’d have thunk it? I did not see that coming.

    (Look, I’m trying here. It isn’t easy.)

  26. If there was ever a time for Branson to get the Virgin name back into F1, now would be it …

    3rd time’s a charm?

    1. Might I ask why you are saying this?

  27. Another GP2 champion (just a matter of time) bites the dust.

    1. @wsrgo Vandoorne is going to do the Dakar Rally? :D

  28. I get the feeling McLaren are worried about Alonso leaving. Their attitude to Button seemed to swing last week.

  29. Slightly disappointed by this news. Button’s a good guy and all, but I’d rather see Vandoorne race next year. To me he doesn’t seem hungry for success anymore, not like the young guys like Carlos and Max who drive for their career. The same goes for Raikkonen and to some extent Hulkenberg who I find somewhat unmotivated this year. They just don’t seem to have that fire within that makes things exciting.

  30. Great news, he is too likeable a chap to be not seen on the grid next year. I just hope Honda supplies a better PU to his car next year

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