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.”