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McLaren: We want Button to stay

25 Sep 2015

There had been a sense of anti-climax among the media in Japan on Thursday when, contrary to expectations, Jenson Button did not reveal his plans for 2016 - be they staying at McLaren, retiring from F1 competition, or something completely different.

On Friday, McLaren at least made their viewpoint clearer when chief operating officer Jonathan Neale told the FIA press conference in Suzuka that he hoped discussions will progress sufficiently to allow their relationship with Button to continue.

“Jenson is a fantastic guy, a world champion and a big part of the family at Honda and McLaren,” said Neale. “He’s been with us for six seasons - and we’re contracted with him, we want him to stay, we like him very much.”

Button, an eight-time Grand Prix winner for McLaren, endured a long wait at the end of last season before the team confirmed his race seat for 2015 - a tough year which has brought the Briton just six world championship points to date.

Now Button has made it clear that he has little interest in continuing his F1 career if further podiums and wins are not a realistic prospect, insisting he has plenty of other interests he could be pursuing - a fact Neale seems to understand and appreciate.

“If your driver doesn’t really want to be in the seat we have to respect that,” he stated, adding, “I really hope that we have done enough between us to continue those discussions with him and have the confidence to have him with us, and that’s what we’d like.”

If Button were to leave at the end of the season, favourites to replace him alongside Fernando Alonso for 2016 would be McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen - Button’s team mate in 2014 - or the team's test and development driver - and current GP2 Series leader - Stoffel Vandoorne.