Jenson Button signs new ‘multi-year’ year contract with McLaren
Published 05/10/2011 | 11:12
JENSON Button has pledged his future to McLaren by agreeing a new "multi-year contract" with the British-based Formula One team.
The 2009 world champion joined McLaren at the start of the 2010 season, scoring two wins en route to finishing fifth in the championship.
This season the 31-year-old has enjoyed the upper hand on highly-rated team-mate Lewis Hamilton and sits second in the drivers' championship - behind the dominant Sebastian Vettel - with five races remaining.
"Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is delighted to confirm that it has re-signed 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button to a new multi-year contract," the McLaren team said in a statement on their official website.
"Jenson's re-signing is a move that will strengthen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' long-term stability as it continues to grow and develop its race-winning form into further world championship successes."
Button, who famously won the 2009 title with Brawn GP after ending 2008 with his F1 career in tatters following the withdrawal of Honda, was delighted to commit his future to the team.
"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," said Button.
"I've won four of the greatest races of my life here, I'm currently lying second in the drivers' world championship, and I feel that I'm driving better than ever.
"You can only achieve that with the right level of support - and I truly believe that the passion and determination to win are stronger here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes than anywhere else.
"As a grand prix driver, those are incredibly powerful feelings to share and be part of, and they've only reinforced my desire to commit my long-term future to this team.
"I've made no secret of my ambition to continue winning races and world championships, and I fully believe this is the place where I can achieve those aims."
Button agreed a three-year deal when he signed for McLaren in late 2009 and speculation had been rife that he might move on from the team at the end of the 2012 season, with great rivals Ferrari even mooted as a possible destination.
Talks to extend his contract had been ongoing for some time, with Button doing his bargaining power no end of good with two strong wins this year, in Hungary and in Canada, where he famously battled back from 21st place to take a brilliant victory after passing the Red Bull of Vettel on the final lap.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh welcomed the new deal, hailing Button as a "considerable credit" to the marque.
"Jenson is a great driver and a great guy," said Whitmarsh.
"In fact, I can safely say that he's one of the most capable and respected drivers we've ever had, and I'm therefore absolutely delighted that he'll continue to work with us into the future.
"He's a considerable credit to this organisation, and I'm proud to be his team principal.
"I feel sure that he'll now build on the considerable success he's already achieved with us, and will be even more successful with us in years to come."
Hamilton also welcomed the news despite being firmly put in the shade by his fellow Briton in recent grands prix.
The 2008 world champion has failed to manage a top-three finish since claiming victory at the German Grand Prix in July, while in the same four-race period Button has not been off the podium, winning in Hungary, finishing third in Belgium and claiming a brace of second places in Italy and Singapore.
Button holds a 17-point advantage over his team-mate heading into this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, but Hamilton is happy to see their collaboration continue.
"It's great news that Jenson has chosen to stay with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," said Hamilton.
"Jenson has been a great person to work with, and a genuine team-player, from the moment we welcomed him on board.
"Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is a team with a unique and successful tradition in Formula 1, which I'm proud to be part of.
"It was the best moment of my career when I won the drivers' world championship with this team.
"Jenson and I are as hungry and as ambitious as ever to win races and world championships in the future."