Not surprisingly the stories beginning to swirl around Ferrari being interested in Jenson Button have led to McLaren suggesting that they plan to offer an improved deal starting at the end of his current contract in January 2013.
They have let it be known, via Autosport.com today, that they will be looking to tie up a renewal quickly with the 2009 champion.
There’s no doubt that the McLaren is now as fast if not faster than the Red Bull in race conditions, especially with the KERS issues that Red Bull keeps encountering. But there is a lot of ground to make up.
Button’s doing well this year for the same reason as Vettel; they get on really well with the Pirelli tyres. These two are what engineers call “finger tip drivers” who use the steering lightly and protect the tyres as a result.
According to engineers I’ve discussed this with, when they encounter understeer, instead of racking on the steering lock, which hurts the tyres, they feel it early and keep the steering open.
The PIrellis fall off progressively, lap by lap and by driving as they do, the finger tip drivers get an extra couple of laps of life from the tyre. It’s very clear if you look at the Race History charts.
Although Ferrari have not given any public indication of interest in him, on a recent visit to Maranello, I got the impression that Button was the kind of driver they need at Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso. I could also imagine Button feeling that a stint at Ferrari would be a great way to complete his career. His father John would be ecstatic.
But leaving aside the romance of it, this is a pragmatic decision for Button who will be 32 when his current McLaren deal ends. Three more years will probably take him to the finish line.
if he had a choice to make what should he do? McLaren or Ferrari?