While the rumor mill keeps churning and the Formula One paddock waits with baited breath to hear of McLaren’s 2015 driver lineup, we could well be witnessing Jenson Button’s final Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.
If the team signs Fernando Alonso as has long been speculated, either the 2009 World Champion – the last driver not named Sebastian Vettel, until this season – or rookie Kevin Magnussen will have to move out of the way for Alonso.
For Button, Brazil is a sentimental race anyway as it’s the site of his most recent Grand Prix win, the 15th of his career.
He captured the 2012 race, seizing the advantage after then-McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg collided battling over the lead.
The win was overlooked in part due to the Vettel versus Alonso title bout, where Vettel prevailed in his Red Bull over Alonso’s down-on-performance Ferrari.
Interlagos holds so much significance for Button, as it was not only the site of that 2012 race win but also the circuit where he clinched his 2009 title:
“I love going back to Interlagos, it’s one of my favorite circuits and one where I have a lot of happy memories – I clinched the championship there in 2009,” he said in the team’s release heading into the weekend. “It’s a really fantastic track and up there with the best circuits in the world. When you walk through the gates you can really sense the history and the excitement from the fans – it’s very special.
“It’s a tricky circuit to get right but that makes it all the more exciting; there’s more opportunities to overtake there than at other tracks, and the twisty infield section towards the end of the lap is a real challenge as you’re constantly on the limit trying not to outbrake yourself, so when you get it spot on it’s really rewarding. I last won there in 2012, and although our results since then haven’t lived up to our own expectations, it’s clear that we are steadily improving our package and our aim, of course, is to build on that this weekend.”
Button hopes to bounce back after a challenging Austin weekend, where he ended outside the points in 12th. It was a race where he and Alonso had a great dice over eighth mid-race.
“The altitude there and elevation changes make the track really unique, so getting set-up and the balance right from the get-go will be key, especially to adapt to the bumpy surface,” Button said. “Austin proved a more difficult race for us than we had hoped, but I’m focused on achieving the best result we can in Brazil and getting the most out of this great circuit.”
As we’ve written previously, we should savor the opportunity to witness Button if in case this proves to be his final time tackling the classic track, at least in an F1 car. Mark Webber signed off his career at this race last year.
The other bit of news surrounding Button lately – a potential move to the WEC with Porsche – was shot down by Porsche’s LMP1 vice president. Fritz Enzinger told Autosport that Porsche has its six full-season drivers set for 2015, and would only explore further drivers if the team opts to run a third chassis at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. For what it’s worth, Le Mans falls a week after the Canadian Grand Prix next year, June 13-14.