Jenson Button, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2016

Williams considers Button ‘attractive’ prospect for 2017

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In the round-up: Claire Williams describes Jenson Button as a “very attractive” option for a potential race drive in 2017.

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With Renault increasing their investment in their Formula 1 team to try and boost performance, @bascb is keeping realistic expectations of the team’s long-term plans.

Renault mentioned a 5 year timeline. And if you look at McLaren and how they fared with new engine partner Honda, that is the kind of path you should expect. First year they really are nowhere (although Renault seems to have at least solved most of the big issues with the engine by now, McLaren is still somewhat behind on that). The second year they should have at least a somewhat workable chassis with a solid engine, helping them to get into the points regularly.

After that, the really hard work begins – building a car that really beats the opposition. It will be 3-4 years into the foray before they can hope to finish in the top 5 of the championship. But maybe they get it right and will be able to be in the championship battle by year 4-5.

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Ten years ago today Jenson Button became a grand prix winner for the first time, taking victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix:

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  • 60 comments on “Williams considers Button ‘attractive’ prospect for 2017”

    1. Ben (@scuderia29)
      6th August 2016, 0:41

      So is it too early to assume this may be Massa’s final year in f1? he stated he wished to see out his career in f1 at williams when he joined (if I remember right? I could be wrong) but considering the stage in his career and with williams so keen to sign someone fresh I can only imagine Massa will be departing?

      1. Massa was a good driver. Deserving of the accolades he has. A solid driver.He has performed to expectations in most seasons except 2011-13.Team orders and his status as number two made him look like he was bad.Ferrari was a choice he should have avoided. But Ferrari is Ferrari.

        Massa is at retirement age though. Time that Button comes and takes his place for his final season.

        Wowwww in two more years we probably will have lost two amazing racers.

        Lynn looks like a good idea for Williams.

        1. @godoff1
          Mostly agree, but those two sentences astonished me:
          ‘Massa is at retirement age though. Time that Button comes and takes his place for his final season.’
          Button is over a year older than Massa. If Massa is at retirement age, then the same automatically applies to Button as well.

          1. Many contributors to this blog need to read some F1 history. The idea that really
            top class drivers like Button and Alonzo are ‘over the hill’ in their mid-thirties is simply
            ludicrous. Yes, there will be brilliant new young drivers like Verstappen and Vandoorn
            appear on the scene from time to time, but in their early days Alonzo, Hamilton, Vettel
            and many others, lit up the circuits with great promise. But the path to lasting glory
            is strewn with dozens of hugely promising might-have-beens and burnt out hopefulls.
            There is an extraordinary amount of good fortune involved in being a lasting champion
            and most F1 drivers have VERY mixed fortunes.

            And, of course, the other huge factor today is money. Apart from a select few, running
            an F1 team today is a money pit. Funding is tighter now than this sport has ever seen,
            and that harsh, destructive fact governs all driver decisions. Suddenly, new young
            drivers must compete for drives with older, hugely experienced, highly marketable
            famous men, and much worse, with pay drivers. The income derived from the right
            or wrong driver decision is absolutely critical to any team. So….if a famous driver
            who is getting very mature but still producing the goods when the car is up to scratch,
            and if he does not demand a massive income for his services….well, many teams
            need that sort of cast-iron reliability more than spectacular, short-term shooting stars.

            1. Completely agree.

              This ‘over the hill at 35’ mentality can only be coming from the recent converts that forget for example Nigel Mansel finally won his championship after years of struggle and second places when he was…

              39 YEARS OLD. And that with injuries that would have ended many careers!

              He then won the Indy series (back when it was serious) at

              40-1 YEARS OLD, again with crashes that would have ended many careers.

              And he still came back (somewhat plumper), to win in F1 at 42 (when Shumi and Hill punted themselves out)

              He was astoundingly competitive and more than able to snatch wins at that age. Why on earth would anyone think Button or Kimi (apart from his sometimes can’t be bothered attitude) are ‘over the hill’

              For goodness sake Alonso is just one year younger!

            2. Drg, whilst I do agree that people are perhaps a little too quick to write off some drivers, it should be noted that Mansell’s title in 1994 was something of a statistical freak event.

              If you look at how old most drivers were when they won a title, Mansell was one of the oldest drivers ever to win a title – only Fangio, Graham Hill, Brabham and Farina ever won titles at an older age than Mansell did.

              He’s not necessarily “over the hill”, but it is true that the majority of drivers who have won a title were under the age of 35 at the time – if you look over the past 66 years, the winning driver was under the age of 35 in 50 of those years (about 76% of the time).

              Even the likelihood of winning a race over the age of 35 starts to drop off – Mansell’s victory at the age of 41 in the 1994 Australian GP sees him ranked as the 6th oldest race winner in the history of the sport (the last time before Mansell that a driver won a race over the age of 40 was Jack Brabham in 1970), and the majority of those who have won races in F1 have tended to be under the age of 35 as well.

              It is true that there have been a number of drivers who were very competitive right into their late 30’s and early 40’s, but they tended to be exceptions to the norm. Button, who will be 37 next year (his birthday is in January), will statistically be towards the older end of the scale for an F1 driver, and similarly Massa would also be towards the older end of the spectrum. Most of the older drivers today are still driving well enough to earn a place on merit, but to a certain extent the current situation does favour them a little.

    2. Ben (@scuderia29)
      6th August 2016, 0:46

      Also I believe the next Grand Prix will be Buttons 300th entry, an impressive milestone.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        6th August 2016, 1:07

        @scuderia29 Correct. 300th entry and 297th start. He will join Barrichello and Schumacher in the 300 club.

    3. Massa to Indycar in 2017……Just a guess guys.

    4. There will be two race seats up for grabs at Renault.

      1. I expect Magnussen to stay at least, but yeah, let’s wait and see.

        1. Highly likely Magnussen will go. Personally think if Vandoorne doesn’t get McLaren seat he’ll go to Renault due to the connection he has to the Renault boss who was also ART boss when Vandoorne won GP2.

          Esteban Ocon is also highly likely to take the 2nd seat due to a) being French and b) being very good, a 2nd seat alongside Vandoorne, Perez or Bottas. If Vandoorne does get McLaren seat I could see Perez being more likely than Bottas going to Renault due to his sponsorship and the fact he has got more podiums/strong results this season

    5. How are we sure that Jenson will replace Massa and not Bottas?
      Bottas has not thrashed Massa as expected. Given the struggles of Felipe Nasr against Ericsson, Massa is still the driver the Brazilian sponsors gravitate to.
      Toto wolff’s (bottas’ manager) influence at Williams is also reducing. And Williams will certainly do well (money wise) with 2 veteran drivers who are very popular in two biggest markets for F1.

      1. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see 2 seats at Williams open up…

      2. If you made this statement at the end of last year I would have to agree with you, but this year Massa has been pure rubbish. I don’t think anyone in the Williams garage would retain Massa over Bottas

        1. See this article by Keith.

          Looking at this, you can hardly say that ‘Massa has been pure rubbish’. Each of them has finished ahead of the other equal number of times. While behind in qualifying, Felipe does come out ahead on race day.
          Over the course of three years, Bottas has not established that he is a big talent of the future that is worth holding on to. Williams are better off getting hands on to two marketable veterans for a year or two while searching for a real future WDC (and also using the extra money for making the team better)

    6. I can imagine how attractive Button is for Williams, but I don’t really see how Williams can be attractive to Button. Williams was fortunate enough to have the Mercedes power unit at the very beginning of the turbo era, positioning themselves 2nd or 3rd power on the grid, but since then they are slowly but surely declining, and I don’t see the potential in them to reverse this process. Meanwhile, McLaren hit rock bottom with the suboptimal Honda engine last year, and I couldn’t say that their performace has gone rocket, but one of the biggest development curve is theirs. If I was Button, I wouldn’t want to go and struggle with a team that is going backwards, I would rather want to enjoy the fruition of my hard work of the last years. Big question of course, whether McLaren wants to retain him or not. We saw that Vandoorne seems to be a mature driver, but I still believe that “outsourcing” him to Manor to next year (or even for the remainder of this season), and letting Button and Alonso finish what they have started would be more beneficial and logical. Formula-1 is not always logical.

      1. jacques villeneuve
        6th August 2016, 10:40

        you never know with new rules, williams also has stopped development for 2016

      2. 2017 is quite a massive overhaul of the rules, and there is a very good chance that Williams could be back again fighting for P3 in the WCC. Considering that Jenson might have a year or two left in the sport, I highly doubt that another WDC is on the cards for him.

        Although Mclaren’s improvement curve is better than almost any other team over the last year, it’s expected to have that upswing when you start with a car with GP2 performance. Mclaren are still 2 seconds a lap slower than the Mercs, and only a fool would think that they will actually be fighting for podiums and wins in 2017.

        If I was Jenson, I’d either retire from the sport or join Williams for a season to hopefully add a few podiums to my tally. I also think Mclaren will go for Stoffel, so there is a high probability for Jenson to lose his drive anyways.

        1. See post above…

          And recall how old Prost was when he pinched his last championship?

          I can only assume there is a sort of rabid intent to get individuals fave driver into F1 ASAP created because of the clogging up of the market through pay drivers that only look good because of the regulations that restrict the better drivers and enhance the crap ones for this very purpose.

          Does anyone seriously think say Haryanto or Palmer are that close to the real fast guys given the same car. Of course not (and I like Palmer mind) you only have to watch F1 from 2000 – 8 to see where drivers make a difference when that are not hamstrung through regulations and tyres.

          1. Prost took a sabbatical, only to return when he had a competitive drive. I seriously doubt that would occur in today’s day and age with talent such as Ocon and Vandoorne waiting to enter F1.

            Also, it’s a waste putting Haryanto and Palmer as references. They are both racing for backmarkers, and are most likely gone next season

      3. I agree about Williams needing Button more than Button needs Williams. Does he really want to spend a year doing Sure/Rexona adverts? Might be the right time to have a break before starting his career in media.

    7. What Williams need is a good development driver and a quick young dog for the results on track. Not sure if jenson is a good development driver or has the multi year drive it takes.

      1. Finally someone says it. Jenson is not a good development driver, nor is he that particularly quick.

        Swapping Jenson for Massa is pretty much a like for like swap. Check both drivers stats and they nearly mirro each other, with his WDC being the differentiator. Williams are too conservative and we’ve seen that in races when they’ve had the opportunity to upset the apple cart.

        Williams needs to look for younger talents to come in and hopefully stir things up a bit, Jenson won’t do that.

        1. I’m not a fan of Jenson, but at this point of time in his career, he’s definitely a notch above Massa.

        2. I’d be interested to read your sources about Jenson not being a good development driver. I’ve always heard the contrary.

          1. Cause he took mclaren down a development black hole.

            1. Exactly!! That is why i am not sure of Jenson. Besides he is looking a lot outside of F1 (look at the rumors concerning TopGear) so how is his drive to still drive as mid-field runner. Also i have the feeling Jenson is getting slower, not in speed as the McLaren is getting quicker, but more in the drive to overtake or just to go for it. Like he is just along for the ride.

              No Williams needs a young gun to get points and a quick driver that knows how to develop a F1 car and still has at least 2-3 quick years in him.
              Claire will have some problems in deciding, but i do hope she will not go for a “name” to make the sponsors happy.

            2. Funny that while I’m asking for sources some people keep making bold unsourced statements.

            3. @spoutnik I tend to think that Davidson was the driving force behind Button’s car development.

        3. Drivel…

          A driver who is holding his own against arguably one of the most gifted drivers F1 has ever seen, yet your expert appraisal pretty much has him written off.

          I’m guessing that you just don’t like him, which is ok.

        4. “…Swapping Jenson for Massa is pretty much a like for like swap. Check both drivers stats and they nearly mirror each other, with his WDC being the differentiator…”


          Well, to be fair, let’s look at them at the stage in their careers where they were both driving competitive machinery at the same time 2010-2012. I won’t include 2009 for obvious reasons, and I won’t include 2013 onwards as Button has not been in competitive machinery since the end of 2012.

          2010 Wins
          Button – 2
          Massa – 0

          2010 Podiums
          Button – 7
          Massa – 5

          2010 WDC Points
          Button – 214
          Massa – 144

          2011 Wins
          Button – 3
          Massa – 0

          2011 Podiums
          Button – 12
          Massa – 0

          2011 WDC Points
          Button – 270
          Massa – 118

          2012 Wins
          Button – 3
          Massa – 0

          2012 Podiums
          Button – 6
          Massa – 2

          2012 WDC Points
          Button – 188
          Massa – 122

          Total Wins 2010-2012
          Button – 8
          Massa – 0

          Total Podiums 2010-2012
          Button – 25
          Massa – 7

          Total WDC Points 2010-2012
          Button – 672
          Massa – 384

          Button’s WDC is the only difference between him and Massa???

          Do me a favour!

      2. I don’t agree with the comment about Jenson now losing the drive to be fast and overtake. I recall his comment at the last race about how exciting it was to overtake the Williams at the end of the race.

        I don’t dislike Massa but at this stage of their careers it seem obvious to me that Jenson has more drive and determination. Massa is still in a better car but never seems to do all that much with it.

        I do agree about having split ages though. If I were Williams I would not want two older drivers in the car. Bottas/Button would be a good line-up ans would Button/Perez.

    8. Butron and Williams sitting in a tree, struggling to try and make it into Q3.

      1. Butron?!? Lol

    9. It’s a bit strange Claire Williams is talking up the prospects of having Button in the car this much.

      To me it sounds more like they are trying to put pressure on someone else, like Perez and his sponsors, or maybe Massa+sponsors…

      1. I feel the same. That belly dance from the team has been so obvious, it must hide something else in the background.

      2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        6th August 2016, 12:35

        I wonder if a deal for Button to Williams has actually already been done

      3. I’m not sure crushing Massa’s hopes for a drive next season this early in the season is good for him.

    10. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      6th August 2016, 11:17

      23 medical incidents in 24 drivers, how does that work?

      Lynn doesn’t deserve to be in F1, he’s been awful in GP2.

      1. 6th with two wins isn’t that bad is it?

        1. 9th this season and all his wins have been sprint races like Haryanto, where the grids are reversed.

      2. Agreed. He’s had one or two highlight moments but that was some time ago already and he’s just nowhere currently. Or it’s DAMS that is nowhere? In all cases he’s not particularly exciting to watch.

        1. @spoutnik He did say that they hadn’t moved forward from last year at Silverstone, but now they are catching up.

          1. Good to hear, @fastiesty. That great team can surely be at the front again.

    11. spafrancorchamps
      6th August 2016, 11:56

      It would be cool if Williams signed Button and Frijns. Young blood, old experience.

      1. Button and Wehrlein would actually be a way stronger pairing.

        1. No way. Frijns has a much better junior record than Wehrlein, who can hardly beat Haryanto

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            6th August 2016, 16:44

            As much as I hope otherwise i think Frijns has missed the boat. Perhaps a good showing in Formula E next year might lead to an Andretti Indycar drive, which would be a very exciting pairing indeed

    12. I don’t know if this would even be a factor in Button’s immediate future in F1…..but

      It might make sense to spend the last year/s with Honda in F1 and then transition to a future Honda/Acura NSX entry in LeMans racing.

    13. I think Toro Rosso should look at signing Rossi for 2017. I think he’s definitely got potential, and it should favour their marketability in the US as well.

      1. Nah, he should stick to Moto GP…

        1. I meant De Rossi. Or was that sarcasm :/

          1. This should be the time for Dietrich to go outside Red Bull boundaries and get Alex Rossi in a Toro Rosso. And from the 12 events he already raced this year in Indy Car, 10 of them he finished 15th or better.

            We wonder what kind of livery he will have at the Indycar season finale.

    14. I have a feeling both Bottas and Massa are underperforming in off the racetrack sense.

      Button is way more attractive as a British dude, with good looks and polished coorporate image.

      On track it would make sense aswell. Bottas was hailed as the new Ayrton Senna in 2014, in 2015 he was mentioned as next Ferrari star and in 2016 he is only hailed as not performing as good as he once was.

      Massa is constantly a step bellow Bottas. Not really impressing greatly.

      And here you have Button, champion, race winner, can hold his own against Alonso right now, Hamilton previously and destroyed Magnusen and Perez inbetween.

      His CV is arguably best of any non signed drivers on the market.

      And for a sponsor only Hamilton might be more attractive.

      He is Nico Rosberg without a contract for 2017, amazing second row driver, strong in all areas. Only downside is he is not a Vet, Ham or Alo. Whoom are considered greatest of the outgoing era.

      Williams should drop Bottas or Massa and get Button. Personally I would go for Bottas + Button, but maybe stealing Perez would be a greater choice. Weakening Force India who is their main competitor.

      1. “…Only downside is he is not a Vet, Ham or Alo…”

        You’re right, he isn’t, he’s a Button. And what’s wrong with that?

        I see you mentioned the three drivers considered the ‘top 3’ on the grid. Button has been team mates with two of those drivers, and beaten them both. Vettel is the only one he hasn’t beaten in the same machinery – because he’s never had the same machinery.

      2. If Perez’s sponsors bolt out, it could be obvious that the 2nd seat could go up for grabs.

        Possible candidates:
        Wehrlein who still needs a learning curve
        Bottas if he is not signed
        Or Alex Rossi who could possibly help out Force India with possible podiums. Bu he is a real long shot.

        Kvyat needs to ask SMP for funding.

    15. Williams needs Adrian Newey more badly than Button or any other driver.

    16. Nice to see my comment picked for CotD!

      I really do hope that Williams will be able to take that step back up again next year, but I am a bit worried that they will just fall further back from a lack of competative funding. So far Massa has done better than expected, or maybe Bottas has not quite lived up to what we expected of him after his first year. I think that if they can get Button that would be a welcome boost to the lineup.

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