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McLaren-Honda confirm Jenson Button for 2016
The struggling F1 team will retain the 2009 F1 champion after weeks of speculation
McLaren have announced that Jenson Button will race for them in 2016 after reports last week suggested he was preparing to quit the sport.
The news will provide a welcome boost to the Woking based team, who currently sit ninth in the championship having endured an awful season with new engine partners Honda.
Reflecting on a frustrating year at the back of the grid, 2009 Formula One world champion Button said: “Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future.
“But I have been a McLaren driver for six seasons now [2010-2015], and in that time I have got to know Ron [Dennis] very well. He and I have had some very good chats these past few weeks, and during those chats it has become clear to me that Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future.
It is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future.
“That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, he and I have decided to continue our partnership. I can’t wait!”
Button said he made the decision about his future after the grand prix in Singapore, though he also admitted that he didn’t know for certain if he would be leaving F1 at the end of the year.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis recently stated the team had the option of terminating Button’s two year contract twelve months early, but today said the clause in question “immediately became an irrelevance” once they had established that the 35-year-old driver “remained as enthusiastic and as committed and as focused as ever.”
“As I say, I am extremely pleased,” continued Dennis. “Jenson is the most experienced driver currently racing in Formula 1, and next season he is due to become only the third driver [after Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher] in Formula 1 history to pass the milestone of 300 Grands Prix.
Today is about Jenson.
“But, although that wealth of experience makes him a massively valuable asset to our team, hugely expert in all aspects of the 21st-century Formula 1 driver’s craft, he is also supremely fit and as super-fast as ever.”
While McLaren’s statement establishes Jenson’s 2016 seat, it fails to mention Fernando Alonso. The two-time world champion said at the weekend that he didn’t know if he’d see out the remaining two years of his multi-million pound deal before posting a series of tweets apparently confirming that he would.
A McLaren spokesperson reportedly said that “today is about Jenson” when asked about the future of his Spanish teammate.