Wednesday 28 September 2016

McLaren in meltdown as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso refute claims they will stay

Philip Duncan

Published 28/09/2015 | 10:13

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button

Jenson Button has cast further doubt over his Formula One future by refuting Ron Dennis' claim that he will still be a McLaren driver in 2016.

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Dennis said after Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix that both Button and his team-mate Fernando Alonso would remain with the beleaguered British team next term.

But, in yet another twist in Button's drawn-out contract saga, the Briton has hinted that his whereabouts beyond this season are still undecided.

Button signed a two-year deal with McLaren last year, but the second term is optionable for both parties.

"Every week I've spoken to Ron and I'm not going to say if anything is resolved because we're still discussing," said Button, who finished a miserable 16th in Japan on Sunday.

"We'll have to wait and see (if I'm here). I'm not going to comment on something that isn't going one way or the other. I can't comment on something I don't know the future of yet.

"I want to race in a competitive car. If we have that in Formula One, I want to race. That's what every driver dreams of - we're out there to compete at the front. Who knows if it's not?"

Button's future took centre-stage in Suzuka after it was reported he was ready to bring the curtain down on his world-championship winning career.

McLaren want to keep Button but it remains to be seen whether the Englishman can be convinced to stay with the team who are in the midst of arguably their worst-ever campaign in Formula One.

Dennis, however, was unequivocal when asked if Button would still be with McLaren next year.

"Yes. What more do you want?" he told Sky Sports F1.

Dennis, mobbed by the media in the paddock, added: "Jenson has a two-year contract. I should have taken away any doubt of our commitment to him earlier than I did.

''I did not speak to him until Thursday but at the end of the day it would have been more constructive if he had known I had no intention to exercise our option to terminate his contract.

"These sort of decisions are not mine and mine alone. They are decisions that have to be supported by the shareholders and I informed Jenson accordingly. But I could have done it a couple of days earlier and I don't think it would have been an issue now.''

Button, who has been linked with a new career in the media as a presenter of Top Gear, as well as a move to the World Endurance Championship, joined McLaren in 2010. He challenged for the title in his debut season with the Woking-based team before finishing runner-up to Sebastian Vettel a year later.

But he has not stepped foot on the podium since his last victory at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 and has only scored six points this term.

Button's team-mate Alonso's future is also shrouded in mystery after he said he did not know whether he would be in the sport next year.

The Spaniard, who has a three-year deal with McLaren, later moved to clarify his comments with a series of tweets where he claimed he wants to see out his career with the British outfit.

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