Tricky build up to British Grand Prix for Jenson Button
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jun 2014   |  3:48 pm GMT  |  222 comments

Jenson Button’s British Grand Prix weekend, rather than a happy homecoming, looks likely to feature some awkward questions about his future after the McLaren chairman Ron Dennis gave him a hurry-up in the media.

Button has had another tough season with an uncompetitive car, but his low-key performance in Austria came at an awkward moment as thoughts are focussed on contracts for next season. Button qualified and finished a distant 11th while his rookie team mate Kevin Magnussen was 7th.

Magnussen has finished in the points five times this season to Button’s four, but the Englishman is ahead on points 43 to 29.

In qualifying they are 4-4 with Magnussen just shading it on an average qualifying position of 9.375 compared to Button’s 9.625.

It’s not bad for either driver, but arguably a world champion who has been in the team for four seasons should be shading a rookie by a greater margin. Against that it is a completely new formula, so the playing field is levelled somewhat compared to if they were competing to the old V8 formula.

Dennis wants to revitalise McLaren, to shake it out of the torpor that he and other shareholders felt it had fallen into under Martin Whitmarsh’s reign. What is most problematic for Button, who was hired by Whitmarsh, is that Dennis has chosen to highlight a lack of effort on Button’s part as an issue.

“Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do – he’s a highly-paid grand prix driver,” Dennis told Sky Sports. “Yes, we are not giving him the best car and, yes, it would challenging for him to win in it, to say the least, but he could do his bit and Kevin has to make it as difficult for him as possible.”

“I’m happy with the drivers in the sense that I think they are giving their best. I’m sure Kevin is giving a big wake-up call for Jenson, and in some ways you say, ‘Great, we’ve made a great choice with Kevin’ but in other ways you say, ‘Come on Jenson, you are a world champion and one thing you can do on a consistent basis – and you should be doing it – is beating your team-mate’.

McLaren is in a rut, there is no question about that and the team is currently the worst performing of the Mercedes powered outfits. It lies 6th in the contractors’ championship on 72 points with the less well funded Force India and Williams outfits ahead, albeit the three teams are separated by just 15 points.

But the team is thinking big and is making no secret of wanting to hire a big name driver for next season. But there is little obvious incentive for Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso, two names that have been linked with the team, to return.

Romain Grosjean is not your obvious McLaren driver on some levels, but he is close to team boss Eric Boullier and is definitely very fast. His name is likely to be mentioned if McLaren decide to look elsewhere and cannot land a world champion.

Speaking in Montreal recently Button said of talks on his contract that there was, “No more progress at all. But that’s just the way it is. We’re here, we’ve spent four good years together already. It’s our fifth year together. And we both want to work together in the future but it’s just not time yet. Not the right time.

“We have a lot of other issues to solve first before we start thinking about the future too much. We’re in a good place and y’know, I think my experience does help me a lot. I still feel very young at heart, fitter than ever and I have all that experience. I’m in a great position and I feel I’ve got a lot more to give in the future in Formula One. I definitely can’t see an end to my career.”

Next season comes the return of Honda, which will introduce a new element to the mix at McLaren. The word in F1 engineering circles is that the Japanese giant is a little behind in its preparations with the V6 turbo hybrid engine, the ERS for which is being done by McLaren themselves.

With all the current manufacturers able to upgrade and develop their engines for next season’s use before the next homologation cut-off in February, there is immense effort going into that already for next year.

Honda is going to be up against it with a Stage 1 engine in 2015 against Stage 2 engines from Renault, Ferrari and particularly Mercedes.

Engineers from Mercedes’ rivals are admitting that they will not catch the German manufacturer this season on performance and fuel efficiency this season and will be hard pressed to make major inroads next season.

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Let’s not be under any illusions – The only thing that matters to Ron Dennis is winning and he’s been in the game long enough to know that winning means being the best in every regard. The chassis has to be the best, the engine has to be the best, pitstops have to be the fastest and the drivers have to be superstars. Unfortunately, and much as I like Jenson – he’s not the best driver out there. He’s very good and I rate him very highly but, he’s not the best and that is what Ron demands. It’s nothing personal and to be honest, it’s the attitude that’s needed to win championships. If losing Jenson is part of what’s required to get McLaren back to their winning ways, then I’m all for it.


Jenson might not be the best driver on the grid, but he’s surely better as a driver than Ron Dennis as a team manager and McLaren as a Formula 1 team. He’s close to the top, while McLaren is now a midfield team, and even their pathetic display in 2014 flatters them. McLaren actually moved BACKWARDS compared to 2013, which is no small feat. Without the undisputedly best power pack, they would be challanging Sauber, and this is hardly JB’s fault.

As for Ron Dennis, if JB is past his sell-out date, what can we say about Ron? He had been a legend once, but for the past TWENTY YEARS the only time McLaren produced a car that was clearly superior to archrival Ferrari (not counting 2005 when Michelin trounced Bridgestone) was 1998 and even then they heavily relied on the Mercedes engine. Since then he got two WDCs through misfortunes of others, no WCC at all, and was fined 100M.

To boot, RD personally selected K-Mag to drive for Macca insted of Pérez and Jenson is beating him too, which doesn’t sit well with Ron. He’d prefer to have K-Mag beating Jenson so he could let JB go, but he can hardly say that, can he?

To sum it up, Jenson is just better than Ron and McLaren, and Ron still isn’t satisfied; he wants Alonso to negate more of his team’s shortcomings than Jenson is able to. But why would Fernando be interested?…


Spot on, and kudos to JB for standing up to him, no one else in the team will. Maybe if they got rid of Whitmarsh things would look better… ??

Maybe Ron should be more worried about what he’s going to say to Honda who went and put all their eggs in one basket.


Anyone like to hazard a guess where HAM would be placed at this time had he stayed at MCL ???


“Anyone like to hazard a guess where HAM would be placed at this time had he stayed at MCL ???”

Probably somewhere between No. 10 and 20 on the US billboards with a new single (featuring some rap star)? 😀


Depends how you saw those 3 years.

To the blinkered he did well, the much touted accumulated more points often been thrown in.

To anyone who watched the seasons and know the points were a side story know he was not in the same league as Hamilton.

The last race as teammates Button was being dropped by Hamilton and the hulk till hulks misjudgment.

History will show he won the race though – 2012 button was truly trounced performance wise, it was not close..



This response is ment for aveli – post 49.


My prediction, Grosjean and Button for 2015, Hulk is too big and Kevin hasn’t proven anything, Honda’s view will matter and the Romain finished 3rd, best of the rest in Japan in 2013 and they love JB. Unless Macca can find another world champion to drive for them. Why will Alonso swap? Macca and Ferrari are in the same rebuild and restructure mode. Why will Vettel join Macca, it’d be a cultural nightmare for him?


Considering the comparison between Kimi and Romain last 2 years,I doubt that Romain is stronger than Jeson.

Now, everyone knows how fast Alonso is,but I still remember that Lewis beat him in his first year,so I think Jeson has done a excellent far.


I have just re-read Dennis’ comments and the fact that he refers to Jenson as a “highly paid grand prix driver” when salary is irrelevant in this context suggests that this is all about getting him to reduce his wage demands if he stays.

kenneth chapman

surely this comment from RD can be taken two ways when analysing performances,

‘you only ever get what you pay for, or, ‘am i not getting what i pay for’? similar but different.


yep, you got it scott d. button should start talking up haas.

kenneth chapman

that is if the new american team actually makes it to the grid. it could well go ‘haas up’ as they say.


they will certainly make it to they grid. they are not pretenders but multiple championship winning team who make tooling machines for most of the f1 teams and engineering companies around the world. they know how to be successful. don’t hold your breath.


Jenson is a highly paid racing driver but he gets half of what Alonso and Hammy get paid


I think it is a bit rich publicly criticising drivers when the car is so poor. It’s not as if they have been throwing away wins/podiums.

Sounds like he is just trying to shift the blame after stating that McLaren would definitely win a race this season. After all, M Whitmarsh can only be a scapegoat for so long.


Hmm – What about a straight swap of seats next year between BUT and ALO?


James, can you enlight us on the Honda-Movistar link?

I have read elsewhere that honda pressed Mclaren to sign Alonso which also provides the team a substantial back up with Movistar partnership

Is any there any truth or substance prevail behind this link?

kenneth chapman

i simply can’t see why anyone would want either button or raikonnen on their teams. this period of new F1 is a time for building as the PU’s become more reliable and sophisticated. it is a time when new talent can be put into place to grow with the team/development. both button and raikonnen are on the way down and out in short order. yes, they had their days in the sun but the future is growing dimmer with each passing season.

i would be happy to see some more new blood in the circus. that is where the future lies. already the new chaps are making their presence felt in varying degrees but that is what keeps the series going. tired ‘has beens’ that can’t actually cut the mustard any longer only further depress a series struggling with an identity crisis.


button is not poor at all. he has accumulated millions over the years so need not worry about the future. how is the performance of drivers at mclaren in 2014 different from 2007?

button didn’t do too badly in the 3 years he was paired with hamilton so why would dennis want hamilton back and not button? i think dennis is just trying to bully button into accepting a reduction in wages.


JB is certainly one the most likeable pilot in the F1 grid today, JB is a sober and serene. However he needs to concentrate more on his own performance rather than the car. Yes the Mclaren is poor this season so is Ferrari as well, with only RBR and Williams being somewhat closer to Mercedes

It’s also a clear pain to watch a Mercedes/Williams battle rather than the primeval snippet which we used to see between Ferrari and Mclaren pre 2009. I hope Mclaren and Ferrari can raise the game atleast in 2015. My premonition says Mclaren will fight for the 2015 WDC. I doubt Ferrari though

It will be nice to see the Ferrari and Mclaren join the battle for WDC with Mercedes in 2015


It doesn’t matter if Jenson Button is overrated or what Ron Dennis wants. Right now the engineering talent isn’t there, just as it isn’t at Ferrari, and until McLaren hire the right design and development team nothing will change even if they had Hamilton and Alonso back.


totally agree


‘Harsh on Jenson Day’ on James Allen on F1.

Over three seasons versus Hamilton, Button did nothing but improve his reputation as a driver. I think Rosberg is in the process of doing the same right now.

I am not quite sure who would be doing substantially better behind the wheel of the McLaren this year. Button though has proven his ability to use a descent car well. In addition to his WDC he also has 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the WDC to his credit.

Other than Button, McLaren’s options to put a proven winner (re: World Champion) in the car for 2015 come down to Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, or the other potential World Champion by season’s end…Rosberg. McLaren’s challenges of the moment wouldn’t look to attractive to any of them.

Raikkonen is the most plausible at this time, but he is the least attractive candidate on current form.

Hamilton or Rosberg – What driver leaves a World Championship winning team that looks well placed to lead the next couple of seasons?

Vettel – After winning 4 WDCs in a team that had no “pedigree”, Vettel will unlikely be motivated by a nostalgia drive. He might be more interested in repairing his reputation against his teammate while waiting on an upgraded power unit.

Alonso – A lateral move at best. I simply don’t see the upside in him leaving Ferrari…unless the Mercedes driver that doesn’t win the title this year does something rash.

Outside of this group the only race winners left to choose from are Ricciardo, Massa and Maldonado. Not sure that Ricciardo or Massa look like moving on anytime soon, and Maldonado only seems to be moving backwards.

The WDC that McLaren already have in one seat looks a good fit for 2015 as well. If Magnussen starts to really finish consistently in front of Button then maybe another young driver doesn’t look as risky…but not next year.


Ron Dennis’s comments dont make sense. They got rid of Perez because he couldnt beat Button. Now he seems to want Button to beat Magnussen by an even bigger margin? There are upsets through the field, yet Button continues to deliver what the car is capable of. Thats how he’s always been.

If they do go Grosjean, it makes more sense to keep Jenson as the dependable points scorer.

Torchwood Five

James, odd question time, seeing as you say Jenson Button was a Martin Whitmarsh signing, which was also my feeling for years, given that he was clearly the Golden Boy in 2012.

So, the question….are F1 Racing magazine talking out of their **** when they say Martin Whitmarsh signed Nick Heidfeld to replace Kovaleinen, and then while he went on holiday, Ron Dennis signed Button behind his back?


That was not my impression


Jenson Button – the most undeserving and overrated WDC in the history of F1. Very sad to see him given so much credit when he deserves very little.


Highly unlikely that it might happen. But….

Alonso to Mclaren

Hamilton to Ferrari ( If he loses the title to Rosberg and Alonso moves out to Mclaren )

Vettel to Mercedes

Kvyatt to Redbull

Alonso moving out of Ferrari would trigger the driver markets


Nice scenario but will never happen.


Sad to hear this about Jenson. He is one of the smartest racers on the grid at the moment. He may not have outright pace to edge the best of the best in F1 all the time, but he’s always calm and calculating during races. On the leader board, Jenson is ahead of Kevin. Qualifying tally is even. Why complain?

Monza 2012. Button was calmly waiting to see what would happen between Schumi and Hammy. As soon as Button saw an opportunity, he pounced. Great defending by Schumi on that one too. All old drivers, if not also old school, are struggling on Management 1. Oops err Formula 1 😀


Alonso is also an old driver, but not that old. There’s no doubt he deserves the praise he gets every time he’s on track. But, he does have and has had a lot of backing from his team – a clear no 1. He also has Ferrari’s in-house sim at his own home. How many drivers have that advantage? Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.


You can tell that Alonso has a Ferrari simulator because when he turns it on all the street lights within a three block radius of his house start flickering.


@ Lohani

Your points does not make a lot of sense

What is wrong with Ferrari when they give Alonso the undisputed status in the team?

For the past 5 seasons or so who has performed better than the other? Whether it’s Alonso the pilot or Ferrari team? – Undoubtedly it is the wizard Fernando Alonso have outperformed the entire team

Alonso is old? Yes Age is factor in F1. Yet for a pilot like Alonso who breath and dreams about F1 all the time Age is no Barricade. Alonso will deliver even if any team can provide him a competitive machinery a dominant machinery would be auxiliary though and not required for the Calibre of Alonso

Finally the advantage you claim Alonso have is not a gain at all. Ferrari have wasted his peak performances and years through sub-standard cars and will continue to do so in the future as well. I do not have any hope when it comes to the Ferrari team bar Alonso

If i hold the position which ron have now it’s no brainer i will go after Alonso and get his signature. Does not matter whatever Fernando demands i will push the team to provide all the benefits.


@ Lohani

Well, i can agree with you partly

However, i say you are little delusional with “The Ferrari hasn’t been that bad in those 5 years. Alonso just got the best out of the car than Massa. He’s doing the same against Kimi right now – dragging the Ferrari where it should be. The Ferrari isn’t being dragged to where it isn’t supposed to be. This is a fallacy” – I clearly deny this Polemical story which does not have any substance

When Brawn started to dominate in 2009 RBR did take the fight to the BRawn later in 2009. Ever since then RBR have had no pretenders in terms of Technical excellence and the cars which they produced between 2010 to 2013. Mclaren ranned RBR close in 2010 & 2012. Whereas Ferrari were poor and have a team which consists feckless technical crew and Boss who later resigned after the first 4 races in 2014. Alonso have certainly put the car in places which it does not belong at all. The classic example was 2012 where Ferrari have started the season 1.5 secs adrift of RBR and ended the season with good 0.8 to 0.9 tenths behind RBR. Yet Alonso have took a stunning victory at the 2012 malaysian GP. Again in Silverstone and Hockhenheim Alonso took pole in very difficult conditions and converted the German GP into race victory where he had both JB and Seb vettel in his mirrors for 67 laps. Alonso have kept Ferrari in the title hunt solely based on his exertions until the last race and Lotus pilots have stopped Alonso in 2012 from winning WDC

Moreover Massa’s recent pole at Austrian GP 2014 clearly serves as a clear evidence that Massa has lost none of his hunger and nor the pace. Ferrari’s were not just slow and the cars were miserable to drive as well. Massa himself have confessed early in 2014 he felt the Ferrari’s were difficult to drive and the pace was not there as well. One more important note is Massa is still easily faster than Raikkonen

Hence if you noticed car and pace advantage closely which Ferrari have produced in relation to what RBR have provided Seb vettel between 2010-2013, it’s a complete tosh and charade. Vettel’s recent struggles make it very clear that he had Unassailable car advantage which enabled him to Notch 4X WDC. Still vettel had to beat webber which he did and fair play to vettel. Yet Ricciardo have already proved the 4X WDC is beatable. Helmut marko have confessed that vettel needs a perfect car to deliver results whereas Dan ricciardo can drive around the problems of the car.

Alonso can deliver the results irrespective the machineries he drove or drives for, other pilots bar L.Hamilton are not capable of such feats. This has been confessed time and time again by all the team principals and people in the paddock


Hello Krischar,

You probably misunderstood what I was saying. I did say Alonso deserves all the credit he gets. There’s nothing wrong with him having no. 1 status. But, I don’t think one can deny that no. 1 pilots don’t benefit from preferential treatment. If he does have a state-of-the-art Ferrari simulator at home, that’s equivalent to Alonso being the only current F1 driver to have unlimited virtual testing in a team simulator. Again, correct me if I’m wrong about this. I’m not questioning his passion and drive. The only person he has beaten in those 5 years is Massa. Still, I won’t use this against him. He has done a fantastic job.

As for the old age issue, I was insinuating that these new cars aren’t allowing clinical and hard racers of yesteryear to push as much they’re capable of, so they’re talents (which probably gave them their edge) are not shining through as much. Things are much different now than they used to be in the 90’s and 00’s. So, in a way, I was talking on behalf of Alonso, rather than against him. He’s the only relatively old driver on the grid today who is still reinventing the steel. I think it’s largely due to Ferrari being relatively behind in those 5 years. Alonso has had to constantly learn and mature. This has made him even better. This is my opinion, obviously.

The RB’s were much more mightier in their 4-year WCC reign, just like Mercedes are much more mightier right now. The Ferrari hasn’t been that bad in those 5 years. Alonso just got the best out of the car than Massa. He’s doing the same against Kimi right now – dragging the Ferrari where it should be. The Ferrari isn’t being dragged to where it isn’t supposed to be. This is a fallacy. Alonso has simply got the best out of the car.

As for Ferrari, they haven’t recovered from the unlimited testing era. RB and Merc are doing a much, much better job that Ferrari in this era. A team like Ferrari, which is synonymous to F1, can’t just collapse. Yes, Ferrari doesn’t have the dream team of Schumi, Brawn, Byrne, Todd. It isn’t quite like Alonso is the superhuman and the whole of Italy is talentless. You win as a team, you lose as a team. Alonso is a great driver, but probably not the best guy to get the maximum out in a team scenario. Sometimes, you need both to dominate.


Has anyone wondered if Honda has any veto power on a driver they prefer?

Surely their contract is negotiated that it should work both ways.


That is such a public rebuke – Button is surely on the way out of McLaren. Plus Ron’s comments about being happy to have Alonso back, shows he is keen to have a top flight driver in the car next year. Honda will expect it. So who will it be? Vettel? Alonso? Hamilton ? Doubt Hamilton will want to leave a winning Merc. Alonso to replace Button next year?

This would then leave a gap at Ferrari – which raises the question about Vettel seeking a new challenge and move on from getting beaten by his junior team-mate. He has already been linked to Ferrari previously. Plus Ferrary always have enough cash to buy out other driver’s contracts.

What’s the feeling in the paddock – or is it too early to tell?

kenneth chapman

i think that perhaps it is time for JB to pack up and go. he’s had his time up there with the best and he has been rewarded handsomely for his efforts.

i’m pretty sure that he is aware of this and has most likely already chosen his future which would be based on a number of different scenarios which will unfold over the next few months.

when webber made the decision he did it on his own terms and he didn’t stick around looking for extensions, which usually lead to a downgrade anyway. i still cringe when i think of barrichello and how he carried on. extremely embarrassing for all concerned. button needs to avoid this.

JB is/was a top drawer driver. not great and never will be. his talents are numerous and he would be an asset to lots of people/teams. he did say at one stage that he wouldn’t consider WEC but that was a while back. with his style and knowledge i feel as though it is time for him to try LMP1 and see what he can do there. great opportunities lie in this category which is the current ‘pinnacle of motorsport’.


Barrichello wasn’t a WDC so he had less to lose than Button has now. Also Barrichello was just after making money while he still could.

kenneth chapman

@ HP…. your first point has no relevance. we are talking about the future here. some people just overstay their welcome…in so many words. as for your second point that is also irrelevant as is is a subjective analysis without any reliable substantiation.

whilst i can’t be sure, somewhere i seem to have read that barrichello even offered to drive for free just so long as he could get a drive. i could well be wrong on this though.


C’mon guys, give Jenson a break. He recently lost his father. Strategically, he’s far more valuable working with Honda to make a driveable, champion power unit.


I think something significant changed in Austria. JB went backwards and KM went better… I note the Bouliier was beforehand singing JB’s praises and letting it be known he wanted him to stay – a mere formality. Now, suddenly, Dennis the Menace is spitting blood in public. I think he had no need to do that and before Silverstone too. Will Dennis wear a pink shirt? He could have spoken prvately to JB.

So, he’s looking to take the heat off himself and his inability to give JB a winning car – he promised they#’d win races this year – not with that car they won’t. It also seems he’s got someone else to drive for him next year – my guess is Alonso. I note there was little between LH and JB in performance. KM is not another LH by any stretch.

It also shows that EB is nothing but a front for Dennis’ decisons.

So, weill now see JB’s car take on the charactersitics of KImi’s car and Lewis’s…

What’s the fetish with Finnish drivers Dennis has?

Maybe Max Mosley was right in saying Ron dennis lacked passion.


there was a huge difference in performance,especially in was so obvious mclaren would struggle once lewis left.with lewis they won races every season,without him,not much is going on.

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