Sunday 19 November 2017

Jenson Button to land £12m by coming out of retirement

British driver is talked out of retirement by team boss Ron Dennis - a week after deciding he wanted to quit

McLaren's Jenson Button,
McLaren's Jenson Button,

Daniel Johnson

McLaren have confirmed Jenson Button for the 2016 season after dramatically talking him out of retirement.

Button admitted he had been in "two minds" about his future, a reference to the night of the Singapore Grand Prix, when he admitted his mind was made up, which was widely perceived to be an admission that he wanted to retire.

But Ron Dennis, the McLaren boss, talked Button round in fevered negotiations last week, only telling the driver last Thursday he would not be released from his contract.

Dennis also backed down on plans to force Button to accept a reduced pay deal, with McLaren short of funds. Button will earn around £12million next season.

McLaren are yet to confirm Fernando Alonso for 2016, with the Spaniard indicating in Japan he was unsure if he would stay on. It seems Alonso's uncertain position influenced Dennis to made sure Button was secure.

With the team woefully uncompetitive this season, after a disastrous reunion with Honda, McLaren could not afford to lose both Alonso and Button.

In McLaren's official release, Button said: "Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future.

“But I have been a McLaren driver for six seasons now, and in that time I have got to know Ron very well. He and I have had some very good chats these past few weeks, and during those chats it has become clear to me that Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future.

"That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, he and I have decided to continue our partnership; and, as soon as I had made that decision, straight away I realised it was the correct one.

“Okay, granted, this year has not been an easy one for us, but we know what we need to do to improve things and, in collaboration with Honda, we will work extremely hard over the next weeks and months in order to make sure that 2016 will be a much better season than 2015 has been."

Dennis added: “Jenson and I have been discussing his plans in private for the past few weeks, and the fact that our talks have led to today’s announcement is very pleasing to both of us and will delight and motivate all at McLaren-Honda.

“As I have made clear whenever I have been asked about the subject, Jenson’s current contract is of two years’ duration [2015 and 2016]. There is a ‘terminate after year one’ option that McLaren could have triggered if we had wished to do so, but, once it became clear from my many conversations with Jenson that he remained as enthusiastic and as committed and as focused as ever, that option immediately became an irrelevance.

"That being the case, Jenson will race for McLaren-Honda next year, under the terms and conditions as set out in the two-year contract that both parties entered into a year ago.

“As I say, I am extremely pleased. Jenson is the most experienced driver currently racing in Formula 1, and next season he is due to become only the third driver in Formula 1 history to pass the milestone of 300 Grands Prix. But, although that wealth of experience makes him a massively valuable asset to our team, hugely expert in all aspects of the 21st-century Formula 1 driver’s craft, he is also supremely fit and as super-fast as ever.”

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