Jenson Button stays at McLaren: Martin Brundle's verdict
Sky F1's Martin Brundle says Button reaffirming his commitment to McLaren-Honda is a boost to the beleaguered team
Last Updated: 05/10/15 10:36am
Jenson Button won his game of "brinkmanship" with McLaren after securing his seat at the team for 2016, according to Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle.
McLaren announced on Thursday that Button would be staying at Woking into a seventh season after they decided not to activate the break clause they had on the two-year contract the 35-year-old signed last December.
Button had appeared ambivalent when quizzed about his future in recent weeks and newspaper reports ahead of last weekend's Japanese GP had suggested he had decided to retire, with an announcement possible as early as Suzuka.
It is thought that the second year of the contract Button agreed contains a clause to increase his salary to £12million and that McLaren, set to take a financial hit on the back of their worst season in 30 years, were keen to start negotiations for 2016 afresh.
However, announcing Button's position at the team for 2016, Ron Dennis confirmed that the former world champion would be staying "under the terms and conditions as set out in the two-year contract".
Reacting to the news, Sky F1 pundit Brundle said: "It's very good news for F1 and the British fans.
"I said on Sky F1 last week that he didn't sound like someone who wanted to retire because if you want to stop there is no team on earth you will prevent you from retiring. They may try to ask you to sign a contract to say you aren't going to drive for somebody else because a few people have tried that little trick to get out of a contract.
"But Jenson's still clearly got the speed, he's held his own against Fernando Alonso this year.
"I think it was brinkmanship frankly on the financial side and to get the terms right. These decisions don't have to be made until the last minute and Formula 1's such a fast-moving business there's no point in taking early decisions.
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"So clearly whatever he was seeking to get, he had a contract in place and they had an option and I'm pretty sure they tried to reduce his salary and other bits and pieces, he's won through. The team have got a new sponsor and it's so important for them to have somebody like Jenson reaffirming that he believes in the future of this once great team."
Button had made clear that he would walk away from F1 if he didn't stay at McLaren, with the 15-time race winner having been linked to the World Endurance Championship and various TV work.
Brundle believes the veteran successfully convinced McLaren's management that he had the required desire to extend his F1 career into a 17th season - and that his continued presence acts as a boost to the struggling team.
"It works for both of them, frankly, to have a world class driver like Jenson. The sponsors like him, the fans, the TV stations, everyone likes Jenson," Brundle added.
"He's a good character and clearly gets the job done on the race track. It was important for both of them provided Jenson wanted to carry on. I've known times in the past when I was a driver or when I managed David Coulthard, you would never give a hint of any idea that you might be thinking of stopping because the teams would question your motivation and might be concerned that in big side-by-side moments out on track or in the pouring rain on the difficult tracks would you still have the desire to press the throttle a little bit harder rather than the brake pedal?
"Jenson's obviously satisfied the team he did want to carry on, he just wanted the right terms."
And while Button may already be the most experienced driver on the grid and second oldest behind Kimi Raikkonen, Brundle says there is no question that the 35-year-old remains as fit as ever.
"I have no doubt about it. These drivers now are super fit, the cars are strong - they haven't broken lots of bones, they're not wrecked. You seem them running triathlons as well as driving grands prix," the former McLaren driver added.
"They are mentally and physically completely under control and able to drive an F1 car that's not as demanding as it used to be. The F1 season is not as demanding as it used to be because there isn't testing between races. I think he mentally and physically has no problem going forward."