Jenson Button has admitted for the first time that he could be forced to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season if he is pushed out of McLaren by a big-name signing.
The 2009 world champion is the most experienced driver on the grid, having made his debut back in 2000. However, McLaren – the team he joined in 2010 – is known to be targeting a high-profile driver such as Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel to herald the return of Honda as an engine partner in 2015.
Eric Boullier confirmed over the race weekend in Belgium that the team would be making a decision about its line-up for 2015 before the season is out, putting pressure on both Button and teammate Kevin Magnussen to prove that they are worthy of being kept on.
However, regardless of his form, Button admitted to the BBC that he may have little say in the matter.
“We haven’t sat down and talked about it,” the Briton explained. “If I have to retire at the end of the season, then so be it.
“But I feel I have so much more to give and I can’t imagine life without motorsport and especially Formula 1.”
McLaren is currently enduring a difficult spell in F1, scoring just two podium finishes since the end of 2012, but joining forces with Honda for 2015 will make the team an attractive option for drivers looking for a seat.
As my MotorSportsTalk colleague Tony DiZinno touched on yesterday, it could well be that the team confirms a driver a year in advance, signing a deal for 2016. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton’s contracts all expire at the end of next season, making the trio a set of realistic targets for the British team.
For now though, Button and Magnussen will have to simply keeping pushing on with the troublesome MP4-29 car in the hope that they will be a part of the team when Honda’s backing arrives in 2015.