According to various sources, Jenson Button will drive for McLaren in 2015 – his 16th season in F1.
News of Button’s place in the team slipped out ahead of a planned media event on 11th December where it is expected that the team will confirm their driver line up along with their title sponsor for next season.
Button Will Drive Alongside Alonso in 2015
Button is expected to partner Fernando Alonso who returns to Woking after spending a tumultuous season with McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007 where he finished runner up in the championship.
It is thought that Jenson Button will be taking a substantial pay cut for the 2015 season, with some sources claiming that the team will pay him around half of the salary he has received in past seasons (around £6 million for 2015), although he also has a number of personal sponsorships, so he’s unlikely to go hungry. Alonso’s salary at the team is rumoured to be as high as £25 million, making him the highest paid driver in the paddock.
Will Button Still Drive at Le Mans
Throughout the drawn out process of announcing the 2015 McLaren Line up, there has been speculation that Button would be joining the WEC for a tilt at the Le Mans 24h. Tom Kristensen retired from the Audi team at the end of the season, and Button was rumoured to have a choice of either replacing the experienced driver, or joining the Porsche team alongside former F1 driver Mark Webber. It is possible but unlikely that Button could still play a part in the Le Mans race, as Nico Hulkenberg will drive there this season and had a seat fitting this week. Button may well make the switch at the end of the 2015 season and commit himself long term to the WEC.
The Future for Kevin Magnussen
With no official announcement about the line-up until the press conference, Kevin Magnussen‘s future is unclear. He is thought to have had the support of Ron Dennis, and may well be retained by the team as a reserve / test driver with a full time role planned in 2016, although Stoffel Vandoorne is highly regarded around the paddock, and viewed as a future star of the sport. At this stage of the year, it is very unlikely that Magnussen would be able to find a competitive drive elsewhere, although McLaren may attempt to place him in a role with another team as they did with Sergio Perez and Force India for 2014.
Magnussen had a great start to his career with a second place in Australia, but since then has been generally out-performed by Button. Although the British Driver has not achieved a better single result, he scored 126 points to Magnussen’s 55 although neither driver made the podium for the rest of McLaren’s worst season in 20 years.
Button’s Experience Key to 2015 Performance
Next season is likely to be something of a transition year for McLaren as they adapt to a new engine partner in Honda, and Button’s experience will be highly beneficial in maintaining a degree of consistency as well as providing a strong benchmark for Alonso‘s performance. When Button joined the team as world champion in 2010, it was generally believed that he would be beaten by Hamilton, however over their 3 seasons together Button managed to outscore the 2014 champion. He will relish the opportunity to prove himself against Alonso who is regarded as the best all round performer in F1.
Button is currently the most experienced driver on the grid with 266 race starts compared to 236 for Fernando Alonso and 213 for Kimi Raikkonen. He’s third on the all time list behind former teammate Rubens Barrichello (322 starts) and Michael Schumacher (307 starts). He’d need to remain in the sport for another 3 seasons to become the overall leader.