Button reveals he spoke to Williams this year about a race seat

2017 F1 season

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Jenson Button has revealed he had discussions with Williams about a potential race seat as recently as this year.

The McLaren driver made his Formula One debut with Williams in 2000 but was replaced at the end of the season. He had several conversations with them about a potential return during his career.

Williams originally announced Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll as its drivers for 2017 with Felipe Massa stepping down from racing to make way for the latter. However they were forced to change their plans after releasing Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes following the world champion’s abrupt retirement.

Massa ultimately returned to retake his seat. However Button revealed in an interview with CNN that he also had discussions with Williams this year.

“I’ve almost rejoined Williams I think three times, four times,” said the 2009 world champion. “I spoke to Williams about racing this year, a couple of times.”

“I spoke to them last year and I spoke to them this year as well. It’s a great team but for me, it was time.”

Button, who made a one-off return to racing with McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix in place of Fernando Alonso, ruled out the possibility of making a full-time comeback with Williams in 2018 if Massa does not continue beyond the end of this season.

Button also came close to returning to Williams in 2004 when he was racing for BAR. A row over the terms of Button’s contract dragged on for several months but ended with him staying at the team.

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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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62 comments on “Button reveals he spoke to Williams this year about a race seat”

  1. I think that Jenson has made it clear that he does not want to return to F1 full time and actually he wants a TV job as a pundit. Sky F1 appear to take anyone on that has driven a car before so why not.

    They need, in my opinion, to look for a replacement to david croft as he is not only the lead commentator and therefore figurehead but also their weakest link, he is terrible and only Martin Brundle keeps the sky f1 commentary alive.

    Maybe button could be an option there

    1. I watched Button’s interviewing the drivers and honestly it felt like he was answering the questions while asking them.

    2. Neil (@neilosjames)
      24th July 2017, 14:32

      I like Crofty, him and Martin are a reasonable balance of exuberance and sensible analysis. But even if they did get rid of him (hope they don’t), I expect they’d replace him with another ‘professional talker’ rather than have two ex-driver analyst types.

      Button might be useful in the pre- and post-race stuff, though, or sharing the practice commentary duty with di Resta and Davidson.

      1. @neilosjames I also don’t mind Crofty.

        I think its interesting how when Crofty was on the BBC & even when he was doing GP2 commentary on ITV there were a lot of people that were praising him & who were pushing for him to be put alongside Brundle instead of Jonathan Legard when BBC got the F1 rights in 2009 with constant discussion of how he should replace Legard in 2009/2010.

        Yet as soon as he goes to Sky many of those same people suddenly have a totally different opinion & feel he’s useless & that change began before he’d done his 1st race for Sky.

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          24th July 2017, 16:00

          I agree that there is a strong bias towards Sky from most UK F1 contributors on most F1 sites HOWEVER, as a paid up full Sky subscriber even I will admit Crofty is awful. It’s the bits between the action and for example during the practice sessions, he just waffles on like some guy at the pub who knows a lot less about F1 than he thinks. Brundle and Jenson could work because Jenson has quite a characterful voice.

          1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
            24th July 2017, 17:08

            I honestly find Ben and DC much more exuberant and insightful respectively, and a better team collectively. Brundle sounds half bored during the races, and Croft tries too hard to make up for the long, awkward pauses the former makes during commentary. Sure, DC’s does go a bit overboard while praising British drivers, but apart from that he’s a great commentator.

          2. Yep. Ben Edwards is hands down the best commentator since Murray imho.

        2. That’s an unfair comparison. Legard was probably the worst commenter ever (sorry Jonathan), so anything would have been better, Croft or otherwise.

          1. So true……Legard was horrendous!

        3. I prefer an over excitable Crofty and Brundle to Edwards and DC!. I do really like Jack Nicholls on Radio 5 and the other work he does, he was commentating at the Fesitval of Speed this year and was excellent.

      2. button, no way, he has that really annoying type of English accent that people like me from outside of England cant stand! croft is doing extremely well thank you very much, he is a good constant commentator that works well with Brundles expert commentary on the side. also button suits more as a “celebrity interviewer”

        1. Slightly rude of you, he has an every day, middle-class English accent with slight Somerset tones, my accent in fact!

          1. LOL……I agree. Posh and well educated is another way of describing it. My accent in fact…..and the type of English accent that Formula 1 should be associated with. We’re not gonna have some ghastly regional accent are we?! Although having a curmudgeonly Brummy (a la Mansell) would be hilarious! :)

        2. So then Kpcart, your criteria for a commentator on the British television channel is no annoying british accents?

          I suggest that you go and watch your own countries coverage if you don´t like ours.

      3. Croft’s commentary is terrible, those awful adlibs, getting excited over nothing, talking waaaaaaaaaaaay off topic or when on topic just getting things wrong.


    3. Button has to go to Channel 4 with Coulthard and Webber. That would be amazing.

      For a Crofty replacement, Alex Jacques who does the F2 and GP3 commentary is a very good lead commentator imo.

      1. For pitlane stuff before the race that is, I like Ben Edwards and DC with Karun Chandhok in the pits.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          24th July 2017, 22:31

          I really like Ben Edwards and Karun Chandhok in the practice sessions. They work really well together.

    4. I love Crofty. You Brits are a spoilt bunch.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        24th July 2017, 22:37

        I think the reason why do many of us dislike Crofty is the fact he is so off topic a lot of the time. Especially in practice sessions. I watched a practice on Sky in Austria and barely 30% of what he was talking about was on the screen I was viewing. BBC Radio 5 live sports extra often relates to what is on Sky’s screen more! He is better in the race though. Its mainly during practice that I fine him painful to listen too. It is nothing to do with the fact he is British. I just wish he would stop talking about pies and curries and other things he ate the night before. He gets really tedious at times. But maybe some like his sense of humor. But I think he tries too hard to be funny and it gets even worse when Kravitz joins in.

    5. Crofty is not a good person. @zimkazimka he and Kravitz can be funny but at the expense of other people often they pretty much step on people for a few laughs.

      1. Evil Homer (@)
        25th July 2017, 15:36

        Not a good person??

  2. Awuoro Sundu
    24th July 2017, 15:09


  3. Overrated.

    1. Overrated? As what? Ex-F1 Driver? Commentator? Tri-Athlete? Male Model? Lothario? Bloke? What?

      1. Exactly! He might not have had the sheer talent of Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel but he had the looks, charm, lifestyle and general playboy rakishness that is largely missing from today’s modern drivers.

    2. Yes, JB is overrated. A good driver but not in the league of Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel like some “creative minds” try so hard to paint.

      1. mark jackson
        24th July 2017, 16:20

        Button is a world champion, he mentally destroyed Hamilton in 2011, and was very close to Alonso in performance. What more could you ask for. He’s a one of the greats IMO.

        1. I think you will find that Hamilton mentally destroyed himself in 2011

          1. That is a very interesting comment as it admits to Hamilton being mentally fragile, prone to slumps and spooking himself, a driver not on par with Button or Rosberg who in that respect had the better of him. Had they been contemporaries, it would have been interesting to see Hamilton paired with supremely confident drivers such as Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher in their prime.

          2. it’s a bit of a stretch to say rosberg had the better of hamilton mentally. nico fell apart in the second half of 2014, throwing away numerous race leads through small errors. hamilton has improved throughout his career in this regard.

          3. @frood19 – No stretch whatsover as Rosberg overcame 2014 to win the battle of wills in 2016. However, to say “hamilton has improved throughout his career in this regard”, now that IS quite a bit of a stretch.

          4. @Henrik- how was 2016 the battle of “wills”? I find it amusing that you are mixing 2014/2016 to illustrate how Rosberg “overcame to win the battle of wills”. 2 different seasons. In 2014 Hamilton came from behind to defeat Rosberg; in 2016 Rosberg faced no such adversity, including championship hurting mechanical failures.

      2. Perhaps overrated; but better than Massa? I think so.

      3. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        24th July 2017, 17:11

        I don’t think anyone tries to put Button in the same league as those 3. He is a great chap, and has had some absolutely brilliant drives in his time. He’s one of those guys who has been treading the thin line between obscurity and fame, like Gonzalez, Reutemann or Phil Hill. Oh, and Massa, too.

      4. He’s in the category slightly behind those drivers. In that he can compete with them (beat Hamilton easily in 2011, and beat him over the 3 seasons together, beat Alonso in 2015), but on raw pace he’s not as quick. I’d say he’s underrated though, considering how many people seem to think he’s overrated and worse than Massa (who he is definitely better than, especially since Massa’s return).

        1. I think Button would make a good analyst. He has a pleasant voice and is not too full of himself or excitable.

          I think the commentary team on C4 are much better than those on Sky F1. It’s a shame they only have the rights to show F1 for another two years.

          As a driver JB is not one of the all time greats. Maybe in the category just behind the likes of Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Alonso and Hamilton. I think he is probably as good as Vettel and certainly as good as some of the other one time world champions. He’s a decent guy as well and I think you get what you see.

        2. I love JB! but an F1 ponts scoring season is a discrete unit starting with the first race and finishing with the last in a calendar year! in 3 F1 seasons in the same team JB outscored Hamilton in 1 season only, mainly thanks to Hamilton self-destructing off track and it spilling into his driving.

        3. Hugh… “Beat Hamilton overall in 3 seasons” is back to that “outscoring” mantra. Let me put it to you another way. Cumulative points, beyond the season, count for naught.

          Hamilton defeated Button in 2 of their 3 seasons.
          In terms of the championship that would mean Hamilton would have 2 championships, as opposed to Button’s one.

          Rosberg was “outscored” by Hamilton throughout their time as Merc team mates. Yet Hamilton has 2 championships and Rosberg has one. If F1 worked that way, Rosberg would not have won in 2016 because he was “outscored” in previous seasons.

          Another example. Prost “outscored” Senna, i(ncluding in Senna’s championship winning year) in the 2 years they were team mates. But alas they have 1 championship apiece.

          I think what is more telling is actually comparing their head to head ratio in a 2car finish.
          Hamilton finished ahead 24 vs 13 times to Button.

          That generally states that all things being equal Hamilton had the beating of Button.
          In those 33 races that both cars saw the chequered flag between 2010-2012, Hamilton scored-
          545 points.
          Button Scored- 483 points.

          Surely if you want to be objective this is more telling of who had the upper hand- as it eliminates races where Hamilton was in leading positions like Abu Dhabi and Singapore 2012 or Button was taken out like Belgium 2010 by Vettel.

        4. Hamilton and Button were together three seasons – Hamilton beat Button in two of those. Funny how Button fans trumpet this ‘he beat Hamilton over three seasons’ nonsense, somehow inventing a continuous three-season ‘season’ in which points are counted not per season, but across three seasons.
          Button is a second-rate driver – as Vandoorne, Alonso and Lewis showed over their respective times together. That’s why McLaren dumped him and gave his seat to a rookie. Hamilton is and was so superior to Button that a quick look at the stats – races started, races won, pole positions, etc – makes the point quite easily.

    3. No he is not, because no one over rates him. No one thinks he is Schumacher, Alonso or Hamilton. He’s a tiny step down. He a great bloke, a damn good racer, and a great ambassador for the sport. But trust me, no one has ever over rated him. OK, maybe his Dad. Good.

  4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    24th July 2017, 15:58

    Well, does anyone think Alonso will be at McLaren next year? McLaren confirmed Vandoorne will be. If Alonso leaves, I am totally certain that Button will race in 2018. I think he may have signed a 2 year contract with the team as the ambassador and the reserve driver possibly expecting that if Alonso has had enough by 2018, he may move to another team. He seems to have had a reasonable idea of what might be the case.

    I don’t know what I would think of Button as a commentator. He and DC are brilliant together. DC and Brundle were also extremely good in 2011. I also like DC and Ben Edwards together but not as much as when DC was with Brundle. I personally can’t stand Crofty and would prefer it if he wasn’t on Sky F1 at all. Even Brundle seems to struggle controlling the amount of nonsense he talks about now. One reason why I’m not as keen on Brundle as I used to be. He’s often a little too quiet or moans about the sport and how much better it used to be. But I think Button and DC together would work. With Brundle too maybe. Brundle just seemed more cheerful with DC. I could tell that when I watched the F1 live just over a week ago. Ben Edwards and Karun Chandhok are a brilliant combination in the practice sessions. I hope both of them will continue doing that for a while.

    I’m just unsure weather I would rather see Button drive or see him as a presenter or commentator.

    1. Fukobayashi (@)
      24th July 2017, 16:02

      Button made it quite clear from his retirement party last season, his disinterest in getting into the car for a test before his Monaco comeback and his subsequent performance in the race that he is done with F1 imho.

    2. Brundle just needs to stop referring, mid race, to “Jos” in the Red Bull :)

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        24th July 2017, 16:31

        That happens way too often yes. But I can understand why he can’t help it sometimes as he commentated for him and Max.

        1. @thegianthogweed, it’s not just that he would have commented on Jos Verstappen – bear in mind that Brundle spent the latter part of his career racing against Jos Verstappen (their careers overlapped from 1994 to 1996), so perhaps it is not surprising that it would be more instinctive for him to refer to Jos instead of Max.

    3. I think a lot of teams are delaying announcing next year’s drivers because no one is sure where Alonso and especially Vettel will find seats.
      I can’t see Alonso being at McLaren next year, I think he felt duped right from the time he sat in the first McLaren-Honda car. I don’t think Ferrari will be interested in him as they have Raikkonen and, if Bottas does loose his seat to Vettel at Mercedes, then they will want him instead.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        25th July 2017, 8:58

        I very much doubt Mercedes will have Vettel. I just don’t think that driver combination will work as well. Bottas and Hamilton seem very settled as team mated and get on together much better than when Hamilton was with Rosberg. I can only imagine things getting worse if Vettel came. They would have some very good fights but I feel it may result in a huge coming together at some point. Bottas and Hamilton have kept out of each others way and Bottas usually has maximized his performance when Hamilton’s bad luck or poor performance has happened. I think it is very likely they will keep this driver line up. But we will see.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          25th July 2017, 9:06

          There are also reports of a $138.5 million, three-year contract extension for Vettel at Ferrari. I’m thinking he will accept this and stay with the team if that is the case!

          And also a site saying that Wolf is currently thinking it is 90% likely Bottas will remain with the team:

          I see little chance of things changing especially if Bottas remains as good as he has been or even less chance if he improves.

    4. Personally I think Alonso will stay with McLaren or take a sabbatical, Vettel with Ferrari, Hamilton with Mercedes, leaving the Red Bull drivers unchanged for 2019. There may be some movement around Raikonnen’s seat, but that is looking unlikely given the rumours of Seb preferring Kimi to stay for 2018.

      JB back at McLaren – surely only if he feels the car is going to be worth it, in which case Alonso would probably stay.

  5. Horatio Caine Impression – 11/10

  6. I’d love Jenson to join the commentary team at NBCSN, Dave Hobbs is lovable but his input is dated. Buxton, Matchett and Button would be a great improvement.

  7. Just go away gracefully Jenson. You haven’t “been” in F1 for 3 years.

  8. Button […] ruled out the possibility of making a full-time comeback with Williams in 2018 if Massa does not continue beyond the end of this season.

    Rule #1: Deny it until it becomes truth.

  9. off topic, but those are some cool shades he has on. Anyone know who makes them?

    1. they are nice actually, not sure

  10. Think he should have raced, prolly with a team like Force India in pink colors.

  11. If I had a pound for every time Button nearly signed for Williams I could afford Stroll’s seat!!!

  12. Jenson should have moved to Williams in 2004. Villeneuve as well should have dumped his seat at BAR. Ahhh…. 20/20.

  13. captain tuna fish
    27th July 2017, 12:43

    I would like to see JB replace the ” If I were chocolate….. Steve Jones ” on Ch4 TV F1 coverage. We have a couple of Scots and Irish man why not an English man or am I being politically incorrect wanting an English man presenting ?

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