'Jenson Button to announce his F1 retirement at the Japanese GP'
Fleet Street report former world champ will leave sport at end of 2015
By William Esler
Last Updated: 22/09/15 6:22am
Jenson Button is set to announce his retirement from F1 at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, according to reports.
The Times, the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph all believe Button has decided to exit on his own terms and he regards the native country of his wife Jessica - a place which has become a second home for the Englishman - as the ideal venue to confirm he will leave the sport at the end of the season.
A mixture of doubt surrounding his 2016 race seat and the competitiveness of the McLaren-Honda package are thought to be behind Button's decision.
After spending the winter of 2014 waiting to see if he would be retained, it seems the 2009 world champion would prefer to walk away rather than suffer the indignity of being snubbed by the team in favour of one of their junior drivers.
Asked about his future ahead of the Singapore GP, Button told Sky Sports F1: "It's a tricky one. When you ask the question it is always funny because I've been racing for so many years in Formula 1 and you get emotional about the question because even if it is your decision or the team's decision to race in F1 next year you still get emotional because it has been your life for so long.
"I always wanted to end my career on a high, but I also wanted it to be my decision when I retired. So it is a real tricky one, but at the moment this weekend I can't think about it anymore, I need to get my head down and race then I can think about it a bit more before Suzuka. Hopefully we can decide what the best thing for the future is for the team and myself."
Button's body language in Singapore suggested he knew it would be his final race at the Marina Bay circuit. Radio messages broadcast on the world feed during Sunday's race also appeared to be those of a man no longer caring about the PR game as the veteran responded with a series of one-liners.
"I'm in the camp that is absolutely convinced from his demeanour and his answers this weekend that he is indeed heading into retirement," Ted Kravitz said in his Qualifying Notebook.
"There are two reasons why I say that and they are both from his interview with Paul di Resta on Sky F1. First of all Jenson said 'I want to retire on my terms' and if he did choose to call it a day at the end of this, that would be his decision.
"The second thing is he said 'It is emotional and I can't really talk about it this weekend'. Why would it be emotional to talk about it if he was going to stay for another year? I think it is emotional because he has made his mind up that he is going to go."
Speaking during the Singapore GP weekend, Button said that a decision on his future would be made in "the next two weeks".
The 35-year-old made his F1 debut with Williams in 2000 and went on to drive for Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda and Brawn before joining McLaren. To date he has won 15 races, including six in 2009 on his march to his solitary world title.
There are two leading contenders to replace Button at McLaren - Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne. Magnussen drove for McLaren in 2014, but lost his seat to Fernando Alonso and has spent this year as reserve driver. The Dane deputised for Alonso at the Australian GP as the Spaniard recovered from his pre-season crash in testing.
Vandoorne is another McLaren junior driver and has dominated the GP2 championship this season. He could potentially wrap the title up in the series' next outing in Russia with four races remaining.
The Belgian was the first driver to test the new Honda engine at the Abu Dhabi post-season test last year and also drove for McLaren during the test in Austria in June.
Don't miss the F1 Midweek Report on Wednesday night at 8.30pm when John Watson and Maurice Hamilton join Anna Woolhouse to discuss the Singapore GP