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Jenson Button Q&A: New McLaren deal worth the wait

11 Dec 2014

McLaren finally put to rest weeks of internal debate on Thursday by announcing that Jenson Button's Formula One career will continue into a 16th season, with the Briton partnering new signing and fellow world champion Fernando Alonso for 2015. But while the delay might have been agonising, Button insists such a 'special' opportunity - both in terms of driving for McLaren-Honda and going up against the driver widely regarded as the best in the field - was well worth waiting for...

Q: Can we get your feelings about lining up on the grid for 2015? It will be your 16th season in Formula One racing - what will that mean to you?

Jenson Button: First of all it is very special to be sat up here as a race driver for McLaren-Honda, and alongside this guy [Alonso]. As you know it has been quite a long few weeks, but sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for. My 16th year in F1, and more importantly my sixth with McLaren. I am not one to shy away from new challenges in life and I think this is a really exciting challenge; it really does mean a lot to me. To race alongside this guy is a big challenge, but an exciting challenge. I am very much looking forward to it.

Q: With regards to those negotiations, you mentioned they gave you an opportunity to reflect on life outside of F1 racing. Now you are back, what was it that made you decide your future was still in F1, and with McLaren-Honda?

JB: I did reflect on life outside F1 and it is nowhere near as fun as life inside from what I have seen. My heart has always been here, to race for McLaren and with Honda. I have had some very special times racing with Honda, and some difficult times as well, but there is a lot we can do together and achieve together which means a lot to me. It is definitely a decision that was worth waiting for, and I am very happy to be here now.

Q: Fernando is your 11th F1 team mate, and the third world champion to drive alongside you after Jacques Villeneuve and Lewis Hamilton. You are a world champion yourself of course, so how useful will it be to have a driver of Fernando's calibre alongside you next year? What will it be like having two world champions in the same team?

JB: For me in F1 it is so important having experience. To be racing alongside Fernando really does mean a lot: I think we all know what he has achieved in F1, not just his speed but how he works within a team, and how he is always there fighting. For me to have a team mate like that really does mean a lot. We have known each other since 2001, we were actually team mates at another team - I was racing and he was test driver, and then he took my seat for the next year (laughs). So we know each other pretty well. With 500 Grands Prix between us, I think we're pretty experienced, and I think we will play a major role helping McLaren-Honda achieve great things in the future.

Q: How have you felt over these past months, waiting for the decision between you and Kevin [Magnussen]?

JB: I think I've been very open in how I've felt over the last few weeks and months, I don't think there is any reason to comment further. The positive is where we are right now, and now we move on from there.

Q: Jenson, Ron Dennis said you provided some solutions in negotiations to enable [the deal]. You seem to have insisted on it being a multi-year deal. How important was that for you given the nature of this project? Would there have been any attraction in say one farewell season?

JB: I think we both agree that more than one year is a must. This is a new project, an exciting project. To be part of the legendary partnership between McLaren and Honda is not a one-year thing. I am very much looking forward to more than one year - I know we can't really talk about contract details, but it is not something I am doing just to be around for one year for. I am here to compete, to fight for the world championship, and whether that is in 2015 or future years, I am hopefully here for a long time.