Button noncommittal on F1 future

By BBC

McLaren driver Jenson Button has declined to say whether he wants to stay in Formula 1 next season.

Briton Button is out of contract at the end of the year and McLaren are likely to promote their reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne in his place.

The 2009 world champion, 36, was asked by BBC Radio 5 live whether he still enjoyed F1 and wanted to continue.

He replied: “At this moment in time, I am loving it. The second part of your question, I can’t answer.”

Button said that he “hadn’t thought about” his future, adding: “I keep getting asked the question. I’m living in the moment.”

McLaren have Button’s team-mate Fernando Alonso under contract for 2017 and have not yet made a final decision on who will partner the Spaniard.

But the team are said to be strongly leaning towards Belgian Vandoorne, on whom chairman Ron Dennis issued what amounted to a “hands-off warning” to other teams at the Monaco race two weeks ago, saying he was “an integral part of McLaren-Honda’s future”.

However, the situation could swing in Button’s favour if the team land a major sponsor which insists on his presence as a result of his high marketing appeal.

McLaren are not Button’s only hope of staying in F1.

Williams, where he started his career in 2000, are known to be interested in him as a replacement for Brazilian Felipe Massa, who is likely to be dropped.

Button said he was hoping for a respectable weekend for McLaren at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Alonso scored the team’s best result of the season so far with a fifth place at the last race in Monaco, but the team were generally not as competitive as they had hoped there.

On paper, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve should not be a good track for the team. It is among the tracks where engine power is most important in competitiveness and the Honda engine used by McLaren is the least powerful in F1.

But Honda has introduced a new turbo, which increases the efficiency of the engine’s hybrid system, and the team also have a new fuel.

Button said that, in tandem with some specific qualities of the car, it should mean McLaren are in reasonable shape.

“This circuit has long straights, so it shouldn’t suit us that well,” he said, “but I think we’re pretty efficient.

“We expected to be more competitive in Monaco and I think it’s an efficiency thing. We don’t have massive downforce, but we have efficient downforce, we also have very good braking, so here I don’t think it will be too bad.

“We have more efficiency from the turbo which is great and new fuel from ExxonMobil, which is a good upgrade, about 0.1secs, which is a lot from fuel. So I’m happy with that.”

  

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