He may only be 33 years old, but Jenson Button is already setting his sights on ending his Formula One career at McLaren, although not in the near future.
“I feel very at home. I feel like I’d like to end my career here. I’m not saying that’s going to happen soon. I don’t see me leaving,” he told The Guardian.
“There’s no reason to. Some people decide to leave this team because they feel there’s another challenge, or something’s missing from their position. For me, there is still so much to achieve.”
Button joined McLaren in 2010 after winning the world championship with Brawn GP the year before, and he has since forged a strong partnership with the team. Following the departure of Lewis Hamilton, Button is now seen as the ‘number one’ driver at McLaren, and this is a role he is relishing.
“I’m really loving my job at the moment and I feel that whatever is thrown at me I should be able to control it.
“This whole winter I’ve been very positive. Obviously there are changes in the team. I like change. I think we all like change. It makes it exciting, a new challenge.”
McLaren’s pace in winter testing was good in places, and Button is keen on adding to his title from 2009 with the team.
“We had the launch, fifty years of McLaren, and to see what the team had achieved in terms of world championships, drivers and constructors is spectacular – and I want to add to that, not just this year, but in the coming years.”
Button is joined by Mexican driver Sergio Perez at McLaren for 2013.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.