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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren the only F1 option for 2016

24 Sep 2015

With his Japanese wife and his long relationship with Honda, Jenson Button is already a firm fan favourite at Suzuka. Add to that the intense speculation about his future and it’s no surprise that Button is very much the man in the spotlight this weekend. So what exactly are the former champion's plans for next season?

Q: Jenson, there has been so much talk since Singapore about whether you will stay with McLaren for 2016. Racing director Eric Boullier has said the team’s decision will be quicker than last year. What is the state of affairs?

Jenson Button: There is always a time and a place to speak about things, but that is not now. Sometimes you want to keep things to yourself. 

Q: According to reports the 2016 option in your contract comes into play on September 30. Is that what triggered all the speculation that you would announce your future plans this weekend?

JB: I don’t want to say anything right now, but it has nothing to do with option or not. We will say something when we feel it is right.

Q: But would you like to be in Formula One racing next season?

JB: That is also a question that I cannot answer. Right now there is a lot going on!

Q: F1 racing has been your life for so long. Are you still enjoying it?

JB: I enjoy fighting for wins and podiums. And I also enjoy the thought of it happening [again] one day. If you think that it is not going to happen and you have the feeling of fighting in the back in years to come… I have no interest in that! But if I have the feeling that there is a future, then of course I would like to stay. But in the end I am a racing driver who wants to win. Doesn’t really matter what I am racing. But this is the pinnacle of motorsport. I had a lot of chats with the team, which has been positive on both parts. We had some good thoughts. That’s really all I can say. And I am not going to repeat myself again! (laughs)

Q: If it comes to an end for you this year, would you be at peace with it?

JB: The decision that is made by the team and myself will be the right decision, so it will be a decision we both will be happy with. Of course there are ‘moments’ in your mind, but you have to look at the big picture.

Q: Last year you were left hanging on a decision for quite some time by McLaren. Many thought this was rather unfair treatment for a former champion…

JB: …but it is completely different now to last year. True, last year wasn’t so enjoyable - but now, whatever decision will be made, it is going to be the right decision with mutual respect.

Q: Is it a case of McLaren or nothing? Can you at least say that?

JB: In Formula One, of course. If I am racing in F1 in 2016 it will be one hundred percent with McLaren. I feel that this team will achieve in the future - I don’t know when that is, but it wouldn’t feel right being anywhere else after so many years together, especially after such a difficult year that we are going through now. That has really bonded us together.

Q: But you also have to be happy…

JB: …the most important thing from a selfish point of view is being happy - whether I am racing or not. But the team has to be happy as well.

Q: Should you not be racing in 2016, what will Jenson Button do then?

JB: There are a lot of things I can do. I am in a lucky position to know that I am at the top of my game. I don’t feel old - if 35 years is old - and I think I am doing a very good job. And when leaving Formula One there are so many things I want to achieve - maybe also in another form of motor racing. But it’s not only racing - there are also other things I’d love to achieve as a sportsman.

Q: You probably can tell us how you like the Japanese Grand Prix…

JB: Actually I love this track - and I love the Japanese fans. And being here with Honda, my prediction is that it will be a crazy weekend. We need that support from the fans, as we are not that fantastic, as we would like to be. The prediction is that the weather will be mixed - so why shouldn’t we have a reasonable result?

Q: What can you really hope for this weekend? Singapore was a big disappointment, as it was a track where you had a reasonable chance of getting into the points…

JB: Ha, I don’t want to make any predictions. Talking is always a lot easier then delivering! Yes, Singapore would have been the place for us and I am pretty sure that had we been able to finish the race we would have been in the points. Here it will be much more difficult. But this is an aero track - and aero-wise we are not too bad. Scoring points would be close to a miracle, though, but we should be in the mix at least.

Q: Is there more pressure here to do well - in the home of Honda? Or is everybody quite aware of how things are?

JB: It is what it is. The truth will come out on the weekend!