Jenson Button drops biggest hint yet that he is leaving McLaren and Formula 1
2009 World Champ thought to be considering WEC move with Porsche; Fernando Alonso set to be appointed Kevin Magnussen's team-mate
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 25/11/14 5:54pm
Jenson Button has dropped his heaviest hint yet that he is set to leave McLaren – and F1 – at the end of the season.
Confirmation that the 2009 World Champion will be replaced by Fernando Alonso for 2015 is believed to be imminent with McLaren set to retain rookie youngster Kevin Magnussen as the Spaniard’s team-mate.
Although Button has scored almost twice as many points as Magnussen this term, McLaren are thought to consider the 22-year-old a better fit alongside Alonso than the 34-year-old Englishman.
Rumours that Alonso is poised to return to McLaren have abounded since the summer and Button sounded resigned to his fate when he spoke to reporters in the Interlagos paddock on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian GP.
“It’s been going on for months now,” the Englishman reflected. “Initially, I was ‘Ok, what’s all that about?’ But then it makes you think about other opportunities and challenges, in F1 and other motorsport.
"There’s so much out there, so many challenges I am interested in taking on. Whatever I'm going to do next year, it's going to be exciting and a challenge - I'm looking forward to it."
While Alonso’s signing is set to signal the end of Button’s F1 career, the Spaniard himself has expressed his hope that Button will continue in the sport.
“He’s a very talented driver, we’ve seen that in all his career, and also he’s a very nice person,” said Alonso. “We need people like him in F1. I hope he will be here next year.”
According to Alonso, an announcement on his own future is "very close" and a deal will be "finalised soon".
After almost fifteen years in F1, Button is thought to be considering following in the footsteps of Mark Webber and switching to sports car racing to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
"Am I disappointed? I'm disappointed I'm not in a winning car. I'm here to win and only want to be in Formula 1 to win," he added.
Asked whether he would agree to stay with McLaren if the team were to offer him a race seat for next year, Button pointedly replied: "I don't know."
McLaren have agonised over the identity of their 2015 driver line-up ever since Honda announced they would be returning to F1 to power the team next year. The Japanese company has reputedly demanded that McLaren deliver a marquee name to spearhead their comeback – prompting McLaren to publicly flirt with both Alonso and former driver Lewis Hamilton as well as reportedly make a name-your-own-price approach to World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
The German’s departure from Red Bull was announced over a month ago, with confirmation that he will replace Alonso at Ferrari expected before the season finale at Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time.
Button joined the F1 grid in 2000 and drove for Williams, Benetton and BAR-Honda before winning the World Championship with the Brawn outfit, which rose from the ashes of the defunct Honda team.