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Featured Jenson Button Steps Down from Race Seat - Vandoorne Confirmed at McLaren

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Paul Jeffrey, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Member Premium Member

    Button Mclaren 2016.jpg
    Jenson Button has ended speculation regarding his future by confirming an innovative contractual arrangement that sees the 2009 World Champion step away from racing activities in 2017, whilst remaining at McLaren as an ambassador and reserve driver for the team.

    Both Button and McLaren CEO Ron Dennis were keen to stress during todays announcement that this is not the end of Buttons' career in Formula One, and indeed confirmed the door remains open for the affable Briton to return to racing in 2018 if current teammate Fernando Alonso decides against continuing with the British squad.

    Button had the following to say during the official McLaren announcement:

    “I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team. In fact I’m massively excited about my new role, which has come about as a result of a number of in-depth chats with Ron. Specifically, I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver.

    “I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with – and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team.

    “To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point.”

    It is expected that Button will effectively switch places with the inbound Stoffel Vandoorne, becoming the official reserve driver for McLaren alongside his new ambassadorial role within the team. Always popular with fans and sponsors, Button will no doubt become the "face" of McLaren post 2016 with his new role, however the title of 'Ambassador' has a particularly wide scope with no major details of what this should entail currently available.

    With Spaniard Fernando Alonso already confirmed at McLaren for 2017, Dennis went on to confirm the Woking squad have promoted highly talented 2015 GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne into a race role for 2017, a move many considered a practical certainty following the Belgians' meteoric rise through the open wheel ranks. Touted as a potential future World Champion, Vandoorne comes highly rated by the Grand Prix fraternity after his starring role in the 2015 GP2 Series. Benefiting from a long time association with McLaren, Vandoorne has been preparing for his full time Formula One bow for several years now, often seen in the McLaren garage during race weekends and complimenting his team duties with a stint in the Japanese open wheel Super Formula championship this year.

    Understandably delighted with the confirmation of his drive with McLaren Honda next season, Vandoorne said:

    “First of all, I want to express my gratitude to everyone at McLaren-Honda, and especially Ron, for showing faith in me. “I’ve signed loads of autographs in my career, but, when I inked my signature on my McLaren-Honda contract today, it’s safe to say I had an exceptionally special feeling as I picked up my pen to do so.

    “It’s an enormous honour to become a McLaren-Honda race driver, and I promise to work as hard as any Formula 1 driver ever has before. “I already know the team extremely well – they’re a fantastic group of extremely clever people – and I’ve already raced the car once and tested it often. I have total confidence in the potential of the McLaren-Honda project, and I firmly believe that, racing alongside a brilliant and experienced driver, I’ll be able to make a strong contribution to the team’s future World Championship successes.

    “I’m not saying when that’ll happen, but I’m confident that that’s what the McLaren-Honda team will achieve, and I’m determined to do my bit.

    “There are a lot of other people whom I’d like to take this opportunity to thank – too many to list in fact. So all I can say is: you know who you are, and thank you.”

    Rounding out the announcement, Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the McLaren Technology Group, gave the following statement:

    “McLaren-Honda’s race driver line-up next season will be Fernando and Stoffel – a perfectly balanced mix of proven brilliance and immense potential.

    “But, before I speak on the subject of either of them, I want to talk about Jenson. As a race driver for our team these past seven seasons, he’s been superb, both on and off the track. And, as we’re seeing this season, he remains superb – not only fast and fit but also experienced and expert. He’ll start his 298th Grand Prix tomorrow; as such, he’s the most experienced driver on the grid.

    “Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, he’ll continue to be a senior, influential and committed member of the team, and will remain centrally involved in the development of our cars. He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it.

    “On behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, I want to say how thrilled we are that Jenson has extended his contractual relationship with us. Moreover, I’m absolutely certain that the depth of his experience and the currency of his expertise will give us an advantage over our opposition next season.

    “As for Fernando, 2017 will be his third year as a McLaren-Honda race driver, and I need hardly reaffirm his credentials here. So let me simply restate my belief that he’s one of the finest and fastest Grand Prix drivers I’ve ever seen, and we’re very proud to have him in the team.

    “He’s been both diligent and patient over the past two seasons, and he shares with all of us at McLaren-Honda the confidence that 2017 will be the season in which our partnership begins to deliver strong results.

    “Stoffel has been a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme since February 2013, and was appointed our Test and Development Driver 11 months later.

    “Over the past two-and-a-half years he’s made a very valuable contribution in that role, learning from his two World Champion team-mates as well as from our many world-class engineers, and, having been runner-up in World Series by Renault in 2013 and the run-away winner of the GP2 Championship last year, he’s now completed with distinction a meticulously designed apprenticeship.

    “He’s consequently now ready to race in Formula 1, as his fine Grand Prix debut in Bahrain this year proved.”
    With Button's future now confirmed for the next two years, speculation will no doubt increase as to who will fill the second Williams seat alongside Valtteri Bottas in 2017. Paddock speculation has been strong in recent weeks that Button featured high on Claire Williams wish list of drivers heading into next season, and that speculation only increased following Thursdays announcement that Filipe Massa will retire from Grand Prix racing at the end of the current season. With a solid, if only customer, Mercedes engine and a wealth of engineering pedigree behind it, who fills the second Williams seat will no doubt be a hot topic in the coming weeks. Short on funds but high on ambition, will the popular British squad look to secure an established name to lead them through some of the biggest technical changes in recent years, or will the ever present need to secure additional funding for the team force the former champions to look at more well heeled candidates heading into the final few months of 2016? It will be an interesting to see how the driver market develops following Massa's retirement and Button's new and innovative McLaren contract arrangement.

    Jenson Button Career Stats:
    • Titles 1 - 2009
    • Wins 15 (8 for McLaren)
    • Poles 8
    • Fastest laps 8

    Check out the Formula One sub forum here at RaceDepartment for more news and discussions about the sport.

    What do you think of Button and McLarens decision regarding drivers next year? Is this the end for Jenson Button? With the odds on move to Williams now not happening, who do you think will take the second seat at Grove? Let us know in the comments section below!
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  2. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Member Premium Member

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  3. HRE


    Jenson the gentleman brit,going to miss him. Sadly he had to end his career on such a low. I'm hoping mclaren is a top 5 contender next year,alonso is too good of a driver belonging at the back like that.
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  4. ThatRacingGuy

    I drove 88 MPH last night... weird stuff happened Premium Member

    Im sad and happy at the same time.

    Sad because Button is leaving
    And happy because Vandoorne finally gets his chance.

    Hope to see Jenson soon again. Maybr joining Mclarens GT3 project if he decides to quit? Anyone? Probably not :)

    Let the 2017 seat dance begin :)
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  5. Alex Townsend

    Alex Townsend
    Premium Member

    So McLaren were going to replace him and Williams couldn't afford him so he becomes ambassador for the team instead...
    I guess if Alonso doesn't get any podiums next year he'll be off and maybe Jense will get to race again but I can't see it somehow.

    Gutted as really thought he'd be off to Williams or at least the WEC
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  6. Ole Marius Myrvold

    Ole Marius Myrvold
    JWB 96-13 Staff Member

    Like I read another place.

    The link to the year 2000 is slipping away. The link to when Schumacher had only 2 WDC, Eau Rouge and Radillon had gravel an Johnny Herbert raced in F1.
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  7. Dave Stephenson

    Dave Stephenson
    Technical Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

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  8. realitychecked


    So why didn't they do this with Kevin back last year?
  9. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    For whatever reason I just don't think that either Ron or the McLaren organisation (but I think mainly Ron) rated him high enough to promote him.

    Sad to see Jenson go, I know it's not F1 "retirement" but I don't think we'll see him in an F1 car in anger again. F1 show events maybe, who knows what the plans are.

    Would of almost preferred him to cut his ties with McLaren completely and gone to join Webber in the WEC but we'll see what happens over the next few months. I feel he's still just to good to waste on PR events and being someone who'll charm the VIP guests.
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  10. Andrew

    Life is Short–Talk Fast ! Staff Member Premium Member

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  11. Ole Marius Myrvold

    Ole Marius Myrvold
    JWB 96-13 Staff Member

    Isn't the "unspoken fact", that Ron Dennis wanted Magnussen, but the shareholders wanted Button due to marketing. When Magnussen was unable to get sponsorship, there was nothing that could be done.
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  12. ThatRacingGuy

    I drove 88 MPH last night... weird stuff happened Premium Member

    Yeah shame that KMAG never really made it in Mclaren. He is a talented driver but i think that Vandoorne is way better
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  13. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    With the tough times the team is having I think neither KMAG or Jenson benefitted too much, however my mistake.

    Will be interesting to see how they perform next year. With the emphasis on mechanical grip over aero the new regs may help McLaren more. Their recent cars have certainly been weak on the aero side. The engine is getting there but I don't think they'll be winning for at least another year, maybe even two.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
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  14. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    At least this kid will have a fighting chance, if McLaren can stay on top of the new spec. Another 20 year old wunderkind. He'll do well to make nicey nice with Alonso.

    I don't buy this "test driver" rumor for Jenson -- more likely Williams takes Jenson if Massa leaves, or even better, Jenson appears stateside, as Penske and Andretti gain interest! :)
  15. disappointing, but respect his decision (unless it was a shove by someone in mclaren that has resulted in this). JB was one of the few drivers left who remembers what proper f1 cars are like to drive -- and that would have been a valuable skill to have for next season.
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  16. ThatRacingGuy

    I drove 88 MPH last night... weird stuff happened Premium Member

    No troll but it's weird how this thread is about Vandoorne to but i havent seen his name in these comments LOL!

    Just kidding of course i don't really mind. we will see who laugh at the end of the road when Stoffel eats Mr.GP2 engine alive ;)
  17. Peter Hooper

    Peter Hooper
    Premium Member

    Massa has already announced his retirement so is definitely going. I would have like to see Jenson in the Williams cockpit again but based in his comments that appear extremely unlikely now.

    Will be sad to have a grid minus the gentleman Brit, he's been a credit to the sport for so long and losing both him and Massa is a real shame but at least allows more young guns to come through.
  18. I'm a big fan of KMAG, (danish myself) but I think the few aggressive moments he had was enough to create a stir for such an established team as McLaren. Understandable but pretty sad really, hopefully he will stay at Renault when they'll become competitive. But his speed us certaintly there, he has shown he can hang with the big boys like Jenson on pace.
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  19. I hope button enjoyed his last 2 years in F1. Driving that uncompetitive mclaren may have robbed him 2 good years (or 3 if you count next 2 years as well). He could probably drive any p1 car he wants in wec and have a good chance of winning lemans. Surely being a contender for win in lemans beats trying to get out of q1 in f1...

    Back when button decided to stay with mclaren when mclaren was trying to choose between kmag, button and alonso I said he should have switched to wec. Or do something else whatever he likes. He was treated poorly by mclaren and then the car was really bad as well.

    I do kinda understand why button chose not to go to williams. I doubt it was a money thing. Williams is once again in downward spiral after good 2014 and 2015. I doubt williams can beat mclaren in 2017. But at the same time the mclaren won't be a race winner either. A solid top10 car like the force india is on this season. The honda engine still lacks power and with more downforce and drag the engine becomes more important than it was this season. The more power you have the more downforce you can put on the car. Mclaren hasn't been able to build a good car for 4 years now.

    I never really did rate button very highly before his brawn days. But when he was with lewis at mclaren I think he showed he is a very good driver. But button spent a lot of time in bad cars in his career. The hondas he drove were pretty atrocious. Out of his 17 seasons in f1 he only had championship winning car on one season and race winning car 3 times although he did win a race on 4 seasons. People say alonso has had bad luck but button has had it far worse.
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  20. As drivers get older they are less eager to win, even if they say the contrary. Less eager to take exaggerated risks.
    It is just a rule of life.
    It is a natural cycle.