McLaren keen to Button down Jenson
McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jun 2011   |  1:42 pm GMT  |  316 comments

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.

Button: On form (McLaren)


Button is having a very good year, driving very well and lying second in the championship with a win under his belt from Canada. He’s even talking about being able to challenge Sebastian Vettel for the title this year. To do that will take a massive reversal from the ban on off throttle diffusers, starting at Silverstone. We will see.

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?


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1

Button would be silly to go Ferrari for 2013, where he would be treated as a #2 driver, as he already is being. I don’t think he’ll move to Ferrari, but he could well try and use this as leverage for a better contract. Also, IMHO Hamilton won’t be at McLaren for 2013, or possible sooner, and if so, McLaren will undoubtedly give Button equal status to whoever his teammate would be.

2
Adrian Newey Jr

Button moved to MacLaren because he knew how much Brawn had invested in that year’s car and there was little chance of them having a good car for the following year. In contrast MacLaren have a record of competitive cars every season.

Personally, I see MacLaren’s principal danger is Button going to RBR. Button is much like Webber in so far as a laid back professional attitude. Having Lewis at RBR would be a far greater risk to the team dynamics with Vettel. The vettel/Button pairing would also have complimentary driving styles so the car design would suit the one style.

Lewis has too much vested at MacLaren for him to move. If he were to move, it would be for the old chestnut of “looking to build a team around him” like Schumacher did. This seems to be the new benchmark for drivers. Alonso is looking to do it now. Lewis, given he wants to be “the greatest” will also want to follow suit. Especially given that most fans think he has been gifted the best cars so far in his career. At some stage he will want to prove to himself and others that he is not just a winning driver because he is in (one of) the best cars. Moving to RBR doesn’t allow him to do this.

3

A related point. We are talking a lot about Jenson having to make moves before he retires at age 35 but could we be entering an era of F1 where the fitness level of the current drivers allows them to stick around until age 40-45 or more?

We are currently seeing Rubens and Shumi and even PDLR putting in some decent drives. Is it possible that some of the younger generation of WDCs utilizing more modern training might keep on driving at a high level for careers spanning 20 years or more?

4

So James…..why have you not updated this article to announce that ferrari have totally rubbished this story??

-ferrari have used very strong words to deny this move.

Usually you are quick to update stories and considering that this article has been confirmed as false – why is it still the site’s leading story?

Is this yet another attempt by certain british media groups to overhype and provide positive press for their poster-boy – button??

-It seems like it…again!

It seems like button’s close friends in the media are trying to keep him in the fore-front of F1 news…by trying to capitalise on jensons win and use it to help increase jenson’s profile/status.

5

Yes Supa – respect!!!

6

No, it’s because the database was transferring to new site so there was no new content during that period. I’ll update shortly

7

Ok thanks james. Sorry if I sounded flippant but as a veiwer and fan of F1 – Its getting very obvious & infuriating that the media (the beeb f1 team inc radio 5 f1 etc) show alot of bias towards jenson and it seems as if they are always doing their best to blow too much smoke up jenson’s u know what – and at the same time doing everyting possible to rip shreds from the other brit who is potentially our biggest sporting legend.

We know button has alot of his buddies in the media who do him alot of favours (i.e. positive PR always) but lack of impartiality from them will only damage their own reputations – I wouldnt want you to be one of them as you are sorely missed in the commentary booth – you’re a top bloke…dont ruin it.

btw…the new look site looks great.

8

I don’t think you insult James Allen – supa I think your spot on….

9

Another ‘as long as they give inordinate praise to Hamilton, it’s okay’ complaint. So many forums have this nonsense that it amounts to a campaign to raise Hamilton’s media profile… From the impartial side, it seems there’s a fair number of articles on each of them and others. If LH or JB does well, then we get days of artciles and analysis about it. I think you insult JA and other good people here with your accusation of bias.

10

Gets crystal ball out and ponders…

JB moved to McLaren from Brawn because he saw a better chance of a WDC and a new challenge in LH – as well as a few other issues. He likes to challenge himself. He has yet to win a WDC with LH as team mate but might do so this year.

I think if he does, then he might consider Ferrari or someone else as his next challenge. Partnering SV would be interesting or [erhaps back to ‘Brawn’. But in FA he would have a headgame merchant – we saw that at Mclaren. I don’t think JB would want to be part of such nonsense. He seems too nice a person to want to join a bunch of cheats. LH is not a headgamer – he just wants to race.

Of course, if he does win a WDC he might simply stay at McLaren and go for another. There’s a lot to be said for stability as a platform for winning.

My guess is the latter. He suits McLaren as does LH.

11

Button will stay at McLaren for what he’s achieved so far. He might not be like Lewis but he knows how to stay cool and is certainly matured.

What’s the point of being aggressive when one can’t finish the race. Jenson brings the meat back most time when needed. We’ll always want a winner, but there’s a business going on and points is money at the end of the tunnel.

Button will be in demand as he’s experienced, level headed and trouble free. Kudos to Jenson.

12

Have I been prohibited from commenting?

13

No, you haven’t!

14

He should be. It’s identity theft!

15

In my opinion a move to Ferrari doesn’t make sense. Neither for Button nor for Ferrari.

For three years RedBull have been making much better cars, and there is no reason to believe things will change soon.

With their top engineering plus a very fast and reliable Vettel,and a team that looks extremely competent in every aspect, they look like a real “Dream Team” .

Ferrari has in Alonso the kind of top driver they need. Their problem is not about drivers, it´s just about making cars which are consistently quicker and better than the RBs and MLs.

16

The notion of Jenson moving to the red car has a two edge sword scenario IMHO. what happens if the mighty (and over-hyped) Alonso does not perform at the team over the remaining 5 years of his contract?? Whilst he does show flashes of his old self occasionally, I think he may not be as comfortable there, in racing terms, as a lot of people imagine. This might pave the way for another “quick” driver to come into the team as a Number 2 , but in fact trounce the Number 1. I am not saying this could or ought to be Jenson, just musing……

17

Moira

not a jenson fan then???? good to see a level headed, subjective take on the matter. I personally think He should stay at McLaren, i can see why Ferrari would appeal…most drivers would love to spend sometime driving for them, but i think life for Button there would be a lot more ‘political’. McLaren are happy with him, hes happy there, lets hope he doesnt make the same rash decisions that he made earlier in his career. I think Jenson is past that, but you can never tell..

18

Thank you Marcus – obviously I am not a great fan of Jenson Button and I have every right to post my opinion. I find it bizarre that you should accuse me of subjectiveness or lacking a “level head” – unless you happen to be a Ferrari or McLaren insider your comments are just as subjective and speculative as any of us posting on this site.

19

I agree with one of the previous posters, don’t think Button is going to Ferrari, this is simply his managers leveraging of Mclaren. I also do not think the ideal team-mate for Alonso exists, anyone who does end up in that position will have to work under a shadow, just as Mark Webber currently does at Red Bull. It has nothing to do with results or ability, it has to do with the light of popularity and fame. Just as Michael draws more attention for his 6th place finish than Nico’s 4th place finish, so it is with Alonso. Kubica/Alonso would make the most amicable pairing of drivers but Kubica aspires to lead a team as he was doing with Renault prior to his accident. The harmony between Lewis and Jensen is a credit to them both, and can be attributed to each man’s amiable personalities.

20

Just to make it absolutely clear Jenson is in no way a bigger part of McLaren marketing strategy than Lewis. Lewis has a massive international following while Jenson’s appeal is more or less limited to the UK and Japan.

Didn’t Jenson finish a full 45 points behind Lewis last season. His win in Canada, which although it included taking out his two nearest rivals, was certainly impressive but I cannot yet see any justification for the fawning blog and the posts above claiming that McLaren would be mad to let him go.

I think Jenson could quite easily be replaced by the likes of Paul Di Resta and it would make little material difference to the success of the team or the company. The loss of Lewis Hamilton however would be a hammer blow to both the racing team and McLaren Automotive’s international profile.

21

Not sure about this. Last year’s form was down to the Bridgestone perfomance. This year is a diferent ball game with Pirelli. See how Webber is struggling. The same applies to Hamilton.

22

“Lewis has a massive international following while Jenson’s appeal is more or less limited to the UK and Japan.”

I would really like to have some numbers to back up that bizarre statement. Sounds like you just made that up.

From the massive roar that the crowd let out in Canada when he won the race, and talking to fans at the race clearly suggests you are wrong. While a lot of people think Lewis is faster, Jenson is a very well liked driver and has a considerable following.

Also, McLaren has a very considerable following independent of their drivers, matched only by Ferrari. Any driver who drives for them automatically becomes a superstar in the press.

23

Abhijeet Rather than judging marketability from the “roar of a crowd” perhaps you would like to check out Sports Promedia’s recent report – Lewis is considered the fifth most marketable athlete in the world and this is three years after he last won a title.

24

Why not? The people at the races are highly likely to be devoted F1 fans. Please provide a link to whatever source you’re quoting. Also, does the report also say Jenson’s appeal is limited to Japan and the UK?

25

I believe Jenson recently said that if he retired tomorrow he would not retire an unhappy man and that he now knows how lucky he is to be doing a job he finds fun.

Wouldnt it be fun to retire saying you are a world champion and drove for Ferrari? He knows his career maybe only have two / three season at the top. Tick a few more boxes while you are there Jenson.

Ask any driver on the grid. They would all like to be at Ferrari bar probably Lewis Hamilton who would happily change over if Alonso left.

26

looks like F1’s ‘silly season’ of speculation over driver transfers is going to be just as entertaining/competitive as the on track action this year!

I’m sure the agents/managers of drivers such as Hulkenburg, Rosberg, Di Resta etc will be seen around the McLaren motorhome this weekend as increasing possibllity that either Lewis’ or Jenson’s race seat could become available.

Although could be interesting if Anthony Hamilton (as Di Resta’s manager) tries to get Paul into Lewis’ seat at McLaren!

27

I think it would be best for Jenson to stay at McLaren, for two reasons:

(1) The strength and depth of engineering/development at McLaren is currently greater than that of Ferrari, and has definitely always been consistent through the years even with bad cars.

(2) At Ferrari, Jenson will be capable of giving Fernando a run for his money but will probably find it extremely hard to do so, given the Spaniard is extremely focused, motivated and has his priorities straight.

At McLaren, even if he isn’t initially on Lewis’s level in terms of raw talent and sheer speed, Jenson is always able to get the better of him whenever Hamilton has off days – and at the rate the ’08 champ has been going lately, it looks like Jenson will have more opportunities to capitalize on.

28

Is it me or is Jenson a much bigger part of the Mclaren MP4-12C progam, in terms of marketing?

This to me is critical to the discussion we are having.

Its very strange that Lewis is not the focal point with the road car business as he is considered that very “rare” talent and was meant to be one of the greatest sportsmen of his era – i believe the term was “the billion dollar man”.

But this seems to have shifted alot – most probably a case of Mclaren reaching their target market with the use of Jenson in the road car business.

Ferrari would love to have Jenson prancing (no pun intended) around in a Ferrari road car in the next year or so.. it would really upset the apple cart.

I personally feel Mclaren need to commit to Lewis and if they do that he will stay there but at the moment and judging by many comments here fans seem to think they are “equal” which would make Lewis very uncomfortable as Mclaren is his home and Jenson is just a guest.

But that seems unlikely at the moment with Lewis being all over the place and Jenson doing his job.

Is this a factor in discussions do you think James or not really?

29

I think that Button is given more of a billing on certain advertisements than Lewis for a couple of reasons:

He was the more recent WDC and had the “1” on his car.

Lewis has had some unfortunate publicity in the last couple of seasons from the liegate incident in Australia to Monaco this year, whereas Button has been squeaky clean.

Button is in some sense that rare thing. A team leader who doesn’t need to be the equal on the track of the “callow youth” he is racing with.

In terms of Mclaren commiting to Lewis: it isn’t the team talking about his future with caveats about performance. I think their actions are reactive to his comments.

Either way they are a great pairing and both excellent drivers. It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds, even if that is only that they hold station!

30

Both jenson and lewis have been used in the marketing vids I’ve seen on the MP4-12C.

Jenson has shown that he can get the team behind him, and at times I sometimes see Martin W as backing him (as his pick) in press situations.

I think what is most important to Lewis is not the money (as he’s on a massive contract at McLaren already dont forget). He wants to win multiple additional WDCs to be compared to the best of each generation.

31

at times I sometimes see Martin W as backing him (as his pick) in press situations

It’s interesting that you say this, because for a while (since early last year, actually), I’ve got the impression that Lewis is Ron’s man and Jenson is Martin’s man.

I also agree about Lewis’s motivation. I think he’s dead set on winning 3 titles, like Senna did. He’s said something pretty similar. I think that will be some feat given the strength of the opposition.

32

Its clear martin was pivotal in going for JB, and hes always happy when he does well. Almost more so than when Lewis does well (IMHO).

McLaren run a fair team though. I like the teamwork and ethics they display (now)

33

Ferrari has a massive emotional pull for any driver. My view is button as long as he can guarantee the status that he gets at mclaren should move. Ferrari if they want him can’t have any of the “fernando is faster than you” and I think this would also apply to webber.

If Ferrari want a serious number 2 then they have to offer equality if this happens the button should go and don’t forget button has a history on moving teams as he wants!!

34

I think Button should stay at where he is.

We all know that every top team has a top driver. Of the top three namely Alonso, Lewis and Vettel, he has a better chance of beating Lewis than the other two, simply because Lewis is a “passionate racer” and he will crush more often than the other two.

35

It would be unwise to think that every racer in F1 is not a ‘Passionate Racer’. The Degree of Passion may vary, having said that, the passions of Michael, Alonso, Vetel Hamilton, Kubica and Kobayashi are on equal. The Distraught on Vetel’s face on Canadian GP’s Podium was all there to see, its just that He and the rest choose not to advertise, Hamilton on the other hand chooses make mountains out of every mole he encounters.

36

Oh man I was trying to be polite. Please replace that ‘passionate racer’ with ‘crash kid’ instead.

I know exactly where you are coming from. In last race, Michael went from p18 to p2 in 16 laps window or something like that. And he didnt touch a single car because he wasn’t a ‘passionate racer’ like Lewis.

37

haviing just signed his new deal for next 5 years, and with all the reconstruction at ferrari, this is alonso shaping the team up with the people he wants to work with, shapping the team for the next 5 years, at least. ferrari would be tempting, but when you think about it, not a good move

38

Or it could just be a ploy by Ferrari to unsettle Jenson & McLaren while they’re performing well together, raise a few doubts about his commitment to the team. Jenson’s been around the block enough times not to get draw in though, same goes for McLaren. Wasn’t it Vettel en-route to Ferrari not so long ago?

Driving for Ferrari is something all drivers aspire to (whether they care to admit it though is another matter) but with the new regulations being introduced in 2013 and comparing the recent rate of car progress/development between Ferrari and McLaren, I’d guess that McLaren would be better equiped to provide Jenson with a more competitive car than Ferrari for at least the next couple of seasons.

Didn’t Jenson say part of the attraction of moving to McLaren was to race against Lewis in equal machinery? If he ever beats him over the course of a season I could see JB considering a change of teams for another fresh challenge, racing Alonso or even Vettel for example, until then I think he’ll be happy to race a competitive car against one of F1’s fastest drivers in a team with impressive resources and commitment to racing.

39

More like a ploy from Jensons management team to feed off the uncertainty about Lewis to get their man a better deal. Seems to be working doesnt it 😉

40

Many folks here imply that moving to Ferrari would make JB a “number two” driver. Here’s why that is not necessarily true:

1. If all Ferrari wanted was a number two – they wouldn’t look to replace Massa. So if in fact they do want to replace Massa because he is underperforming, I don’t see the logic in replacing him with another “number two” driver driver.

2. If Ferrrari are looking to replace Massa, it is with a view to win the Constructors Championship, which recent years point to having the two strongest possible drivers in a team. The era of winning multiple championships because of a vastly superior car (and the performance of the second driver in the team was largely irrelevant) is over. The field is too competitive (both in terms of cars and team driver pairings) to be able to focus on only one driver.

3. I think Ferrari tried the clear “number two” concept last year, and realized that while they nearly won the drivers championship, they ended up so far behind in the Constructors — not even runners up. And Ferrari more than any other team, I believe, places tremendous value (not just in monetary terms) of the Constructors Championship. Again, in prior years, winners of the drivers’ championship almost automatically won the constructors – but this is not true anymore because of the increased and more even competitive levels among the top teams (car and drivers).

4. So if Ferrari wants to get back on top – they need to have two strong driverss. And no strong driver likes to be a numebr two.

For the reaons above, JB will know that he has every opportunity of succeeding in Ferrari so long as he is not lacking in the skill department vis-a-vis Mr. Alonso.

41

Are you the press officer for Maranello at all? 🙂

42

The problem is, Ferrari have invested too much into Alonso for them to take Button and give him equal status. If they take Button, his role will be trying to be the fastest back up to Alonso that he can, helping develop the car and improving race strategy.

Saying that he will be a number 2 at Ferrari is not a slight on Ferrari. It is their ethos and it has been very successful over the last decade. There is just no way Alonso would want a driver in the team that would challenge him. Again, not a slight on Alonso. He works better where he is regarded as the number 1 driver.

43

“The problem is, Ferrari have invested too much into Alonso for them to take Button and give him equal status.”

And there it is in a nutshell…. the difference between the two teams.

It was very successful at Ferrari, predominantly because they tested so many miles at Ferrari, that they had the time to absolutely perfect the car for Michael (which was fine under the rules at the time).

Whether any team will be able to dominate like Ferrari in the MS years will be very difficult.

what they wouldnt give for Todt, Brawn and Byrne sitting on the pitlane wall again I bet..

44

Byrne on the pitwall ?

45

Are you telling me he never was at any time Jo? Pedantic 😉

46

Joining ferrari would be treason, Button is British and should stick with McLaren

47

Send him to the tower! 🙂

48

I think Kubica deserves the Ferrari seat more than Button.

Not that I dislike Button, he’s a nice driver and above-average in terms of skills, just there are some drivers out there who’s better and yet under-rated in comparison.

49

I’d imagine better to stay. McLaren may continue to have the better car, and he seems to get on well with the team. Better to stay with what is bringing success I’d think. If he was with Ferrari instead of McLaren would he have achieved as much since Brawn… Glad to see him getting some appreciation. And the clincher might be what if he found himself in the Massa situation of last year? (Which I do not see happening at McLaren.) Though I’d like to think he’d just say pooh on that and keep on driving, letting the chips fall where they may. (Which I wonder if Massa does not wish he had done, esp. given his bitterness about the Singapore/Piquet/Alonso memory.)

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