Jenson Button, the 2009 World Champion, is out of contract with his current team McLaren after this season. He will be 37 by the time the 2017 season starts but he has expressed an interest in remaining in Formula One, however his options are starting to become limited.
McLaren have youngster Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings, who scored the teams first point of the season as an understudy to Fernando Alonso in Bahrain. While Williams, Button’s old team Williams, who he started his F1 career with in 2000, have expressed an interest in his services for next season, but Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams has said that the team will not wait for “Ron Dennis [McLaren boss] to make his decision or for Jenson to make his.”.
With two weeks away from the grind of Formula One Jenson will have the time now to finalise his plans and team McLaren if he wants to return or not. I suspect that Ron Dennis will promote Vandoorne and allow Button to explore other options.
Williams are expected to move on from veteran Felipe Massa next season and bring in a veteran who can help with car development and push Valtteri Bottas, Button fits that description to a tee.
Of course, Jenson isn’t the only driver who could be fielding calls from a private beach somewhere over the next few weeks. After a very strong first half of the season Force India’s Sergio Perez has become the hot property on the F1 market, but with all the seats at the big three teams locked down he may have no where to go. Force India have been rivalling, and beating, Williams this season so they may not be able to tempt him away from a team where he is extremely comfortable for a seat that is not guaranteed to be better.
“Sergio has done a great job this year, he is an intelligent driver, and of course he is going to be someone we are looking at,” Williams said.
While the biggest names in F1 are staying put for next year, the shuffling of drivers in the mid grid is only just beginning.