Button commits future to McLaren
McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Oct 2011   |  11:09 am GMT  |  136 comments

Jenson Button has committed himself to a long term contract at McLaren, ruling out a move any time soon to any of the team’s rivals. McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh describes him as “one of the most capable and respected drivers we’ve ever had.”

Button is in the form of his life at the moment, lying second in the drivers’ world championship, with a chance to become the first F1 team mate to beat Lewis Hamilton in the points standings – he is currently 17 points ahead – and he is thoroughly enjoying his racing. He’s stood on the podium nine times in 14 races including two top drawer wins in Canada and Hungary.

Although he’d enquired about a seat at Red Bull and was on Ferrari’s radar, Button always said that his preferred option was to stay at McLaren. He was hoping for a better deal financially than the one he signed when he left Brawn in 2009 and now the situation has been resolved in a multi-year deal. “Multi-year” means more than two, but doesn’t specify how long. There will be options and clauses for when he stops racing and becomes an ambassador for the expanding McLaren brand and particularly the road car operation.

Button speaks enthusiastically about the new deal, but its noticeable that he does not say that he will finish his career at McLaren, leaving the door open, in other words. He will not however be part of the driver merry go round which is likely to take place this time next year with possible seats at Ferrari and Red Bull coming up, as well as Mercedes. Massa, Webber and Schumacher all have deals expiring at the end of 2012.

“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.

“We at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes know how to win, and we’re busy refining an organisation that will enable us to keep on doing that for years to come.”

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1
Jeremy (cape town) South Africa

Lewis is not happy at Mclaren anymore!!! I’m a big fan of Lewis and I think he should go to Mercedes in 2013!!!!

2

Great win for Jenson today : a thoroughly deserved reward for a new contract.

In the BBC coverage today, I heard the excellent Ted Kravitz say that Jenson wants to do LeMans but that Martin Whitmarsh isn’t too keen.

There’s a simple answer to this, Martin : McLaren is now a Sports Car manufacturer, just ask your boss Big Ron to build Jenson an LMP1 car.

McLaren are already developing the MP4 12C for the GT categories so after a couple of years practicing in the GT classes, hopefully picking up a class win or two along the way, it should not be too difficult to move up to building a Prototype.

There are upwards of 75,000 of us Brits who go to LeMans every year and every one of us would love to see a British car driven by Jenson win the race.

3

From the coverage this weekend it looks like the number of multi-years is relatively small.

Exhibit 1 is that Jenson said in an interview that he doesn’t expect this to be his last contract. Therefore, it is more likely to be 2-3 years than 4-5 for that to be in any way plausible.

Exhibit 2 is that Martin Brundle talked of a 2+1 contract for Jenson at the end of the BBC coverage. Now, this may be confusion with Jenson’s current contract, but given Martin is in driver management himself I would imagine that it is fairly likely to be correct.

All in all, more results like today and it could be very good news for all concerned.

4

James, why is my earlier post(October 6, 2011 @ 2.49am) still awaiting moderation after 3 days?? Thanks.

5

This is good news for JB and Mclaren, although it is not unexpected.

He has shown himself better then expectations against Hamilton regardless of whether or not he beats him on points. He has closed the gap in qualifying and his racing is second to none IMHO.

He has also proven that he is capable of leading a top team, even with an encumbent superstar driver.

I think that, should a drive have been available at RBR or Ferrari, he could have risen to the challenge. I’m not sure that Hamilton is mentally strong enough at this stage to do that.

6

although Button has done a job on Hamilton this season does he really have to pace to compete with the big boys when all the cars are more closly matched?

it wont be long until all the teams at the front can match the Red Bulls for pace(hopefully) can you honestly say that you would fancy Button to put it on pole position consistantly and mix it with Hamilton Vettel Alonso when all these cars are close in performance ?

I for one dont think he can as he just dosnt have the raw pace needed i know that the argument will be ah but he did with Brawn but i mean when all the cars are closly matched is he the type of driver that can deliver that extra tenth or two to put it on pole as history tells us the Big Teams always catch up at some point !

There is no doubt he can do the business on a race day but no good starting from 4th or 5th on a sunday i know he was close to Vettels time but he had a faster car and still could not grab pole position away from seb Hamilton would have had he got his last flying lap in.

i also hink the only reason he has closed the gap to lewis in qualy this season is because development of the car is going Jensons way at the moment.

I guess only time will tell

7

Reading this thread there are a lot of comments about Hamilton & Button and how different people believe that one is better than the other etc etc.
But can we not [mod] see that the are two top class drivers who compliment each other brilliantly! Almost as if the flaws in one seem to be the strengths of the other.
Hamilton is an out and out instinctive racer, he attacks the circuit and his rivals in a breathtaking fashion and is awesomely quick – he seems to have a ‘natural’ speed that Button can’t match. But Hamilton’s weakness is his inability to think through the race, to formulate strategy on the fly, to know when to be patient and bide your time.
That’s where Button’s strengths lie. He can’t match Hamilton’s raw pace but he can out think him and that is what get’s him results.
If the two of them can learn from each other’s strengths (and if Mclaren can hit the ground running in terms of car performance next year)as a team they will surely be unbeatable.

8

I’d agree with this for the most part, though I think the speed differential has more to do with driving style than “natural” speed. Button has said publicly he needs the perfect set up to get the best from himself (which is ironic given how much of his career up to 2009 he spent hustling fairly woeful machinery), Hamilton’s driving style means that at the margin he can wrestle more pace from a slightly “off” car. Which for most of the time they’ve been in comparable machinery is what McLaren have given them.

This season I suspect the car has come to Button somewhat – he is more comfortable in it now its been designed to fit him, and his feedback and input (which is renowned) may well have led to development that suits him – hence less of a difference between him and Hamilton in out and out speed.

The remainder of the 17 point gap can of course be explained by Hamilton’s judgement, which has been poor this year alongside a teammate known for his race-craft, making the contrast starker. Hamilton is a young man who has been on an astonishing trajectory of success and progression to the WDC in 2008. For the first time he is facing circumstances that he is unaccustomed to, and therefore its only to be expected that he’ll make mistakes. He seems naive rather than stupid so I expect he will learn. Had he been better advised he may have done so a little faster this year, but again, with talent like his he may not have needed to listen to advice before. At his age, I ignored the need to seek good advice and i didn’t have the excuse of talent.

9

Isn’t this the same driver who criticised Alonso for signing a multi year contract?

10
Michael Prestia

Button had no where else to go. He made inquiries at RB and Ferrari and both have drivers for 2012 so its either sign with McLaren or go to a middle of the pack team… easy decision but probably put the negotiating power in the hands of McLaren. No way he is making as much as Hamilton even though he probably deserves more.

11

I’m very pleased for JB. Let’s hope McLaren will give him the best car on the grid. He’s only had the fastest car on the grid once in his career and only for part of that year.

12

Is there any truth in The Times report of the deal being for 4 years and 50 million? That would put him on par with Alonso and Hamilton or just behind. My guess is that it’s a 2-year deal with options for years 3 and 4.

13

Lets hope we will still be able to watch him race for multi years on our TV’s

Government petition to keep F1 free to air in UK

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

14

hamiltons DNF’s have largely been of his own making

without his 2 car failures button would have been almost 2 wins clear of hamilton , that’s how much better he has been this season …didn’t prost win 4 WDC using exactly the same tactics as button ….senna , for example , was always faster though

being the fastest driver isn’t enough , it’s a combination of skills that racks up the championships !

in my view there are 3 drivers who could have walked the championship if they swopped cars with vettel this year …alonso , hamilton and button

last year webber tried to get wins to seal the championship …and failed ; the year before button , having lost his car superiority in mid season , just ignored the …win in style….brigade , picked up points , and eased home

hamilton is the fastest driver I have seen since senna , maybe even faster

but given a choice , would you rather be the fastest or the champion ..no contest for me !

15

Smart move by Jenson to resign in a team that can challenge for wins and where he feels loved and looked after. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Moving to Ferrari and trying to make a home for himself in Alonso’s back garden wouldn’t be a smart move. Interesting to see what will happen next year with Lewis if indeed it runs out next year.

16

Spotted a huge banner of Kimi Raikkonen 2012 at Suzuka. LOL those Japanese fans!

17

Suspect it’s a three year deal with a mutual opt out clause for the third year for Jensen. McLaren I suspect are pleased to have a driver contracted and committed to them for a few years. Lewis is disenchanted with McLaren’s apparent inability to produce a front running car, but he would be foolish to go anywhere other than Red Bull, and he needs to look to his own form otherwise McLaren may ultimately decide that he is a liability they can no longer afford in favour of someone else if he continues in this way. – But I hope not! Are McLaren lightly to produce a better car for next year? The trouble is that this is a sport where performance is only relative, and next year diffusers are banned entirely, so will that bring about a change to Red Bulls fortunes. I somehow doubt it as long as Adrian Newey is involved, but we’ll have to wait and see. Personally I would much sooner see a season where the top teams are much closer together, and 2012 might just bring Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes within striking distance of each other.

18

Hi James,

Even though there were rumours which said Jenson enquired about a seat at Red Bull (which has built an amazing car this season and last season) and with Ferrari (a team with the best track record in F1) interested in him, Jenson in the end decided to stick with Mclaren.

So I was just wondering…

Do you think this means that Jenson has a lot of confidence in Mclaren’s car for next season and that he believes Mclaren can mount a very strong title challenge? And he would also have the same confidence in the Mclaren cars for the subsequent years?

Or do you think this means that Jenson would rather be at a team which gives equal treatment to both drivers then be at a team who can provide a car as strong as Red Bull but runs the risk of being a No 2 driver (to Vettel or Alonso)?

19

I think he feels McLaren is the best place, with firm interest in having him long term. He’ll help them sell some road cars too

20
Craig in Manila

I think the basis of this (and all) contract negotiations is that there are no decent seats coming-up until end of 2012 when MW and MS (probably) depart the scene.

Further 1 : no experienced driver really wants to go to Ferrari to play No.2 whilst Alonso is there.

Further 2 :LH has already made it semi-clear that he is not terribly committed to McLaren.

Further 3 : SV is locked-in too and RBR already have a few decent candidates to fill the MW spot.

As such, a lot of drivers and teams are basically trying to workout a solid plan to maintain a reasonable “holding pattern” until there are more developments.

Both JB and McLaren have probably realised that, with LH looking for new seats and above vacancies coming-up at end of 2012, it is best to just sign a two-year deal to keep JB at McLaren into 2013 just-in-case LH departs at end of 2012. If LH departs, McLaren can then re-assess and stick someone else in beside.

Having said all that, good luck to him. Lets hope that McLaren can provide a car that lets him compete for the top podium on a more-regular basis.

21

Sounds very plausible.

22

James

I curious to the surrounds of Jenson leaving Brawn for McLaren. Had Jenson planned moving to McLaren long before he started winning races and looking like world champion, or did the door at McLaren open up to him because of his Brawn success?

23

The latter

24
Adrian Newey Jnr

I guess that shows how certain senior management changed their view of him compared to pre-season.

25

James, now that you are at Suzuka, is there any update regarding the Raikkonen-Williams situation? Thanks.

26
Adrian Newey Jnr

Much has been made of Button’s resigning. But realistically, do either side have a choice?

Button has no other good seats available to him. McLaren are arguably the best team at developing cars throughout the season (nothwithstanding they usually play catch up!).

McLaren want a safe pair of hands to counter Hamilton’s occasional errors. They know they have a superstar in Lewis, but need to bank points in their second car (much like Webber’s role at RBR). JB is obviously a better bet than hiring an up and comer, as this experiment failed with Heiki.

27

Button did have other options… Ferrari and Red Bull! Come the end of 2012 both of these teams would want Button. Fast & consistent but won’t upset or get in the way of their superstar no 1’s. Perfect.

28
Adrian Newey Jnr

Seriously? Thats all fluff from his agent. Much like Lewis or Mark were never going to sign with anyone else. If anything McLaren have the most to lose as they don’t appear to have any back up plan with regards to their future drivers line up. RBR and Ferrari have contracted drivers waiting in the wings. McLaren are more exposed to the open market.

29

Congrats to Jenson, i think the pairing of him and Lewis works well, Lewis is the super quick,can take a horrible car and make great work with it, but sometimes unfortunate and not able to bring home points.

Jenson is the super reliable and consistent smooth fingertip driver, that can bring home points consistently and also pull out some remarkable drives, especially in changeable conditions. i think their pairing works better than any other team.

Hopefully both McLaren drivers can get WDC in the near future

30

I agree with this one. Lewis is a little genious like Seb. But gentlemen JB will keep the points coming in in 2012-2014. The team can have one fast, genious driver to go for the WDC but JB will make sure they are on the podium…..and if someone makes a little mistake in front of him……he’s the champ…. I wish him all the best.

31

Very good news for both parties. Much as I doubted Jenson’s ability in the early years (and bearing in mind seasons like 2001, with some justification I believe), he has certainly turned a corner since 2009 and is probably in the form of his life. Staying with McLaren gives him the best chance to capitalise on that. He’s also played a sizeable role in developing the car according to Paddy Lowe’s recent interview, so much as it’s desirable for him to stay it’s also desirable for them to keep him. What impact this will have on Lewis’ future at McLaren remains to be seen – his response makes it sound like he’ll stay but then again he also suggested he would leave if the team didn’t up its game so it’s probably 50-50.

32

Very happy for J.B.But i don’t think he will have the opportunity to drive d red(ferrari) again.

33

This was always going to be the right decision for both parties.

Whoever emerges as the winner of the Hamilton/Button battle on the track, Jenson will make a brilliant brand ambassador for the McLaren road car operation.

As a regular at LeMans I would love to see more ex-F1 racers in Sports Car racing.

It would be great to see Jenson in the McLaren works sports car team, perhaps even paired with DC when he tires of DTM. Both have the perfect temperament for long distance racing.

34

There’d have to be a works McLaren team first since CRS, the GT3 car developer, have already said they wont race against their customers and have confiremd they’re disbanding the GT team after this season.

35

Good news! Good to have British drivers in our best British team.

36

I thought Bruce was an Aussie.

37

Bruce McLaren was actually a New Zealander! The team is well and truly British but it will get a bit complicated working out the nationalities of some to the teams like Red Bull, Renault, & Lotus which are based in Britain, staffed mainly by Brits but funded from abroad.

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