Button ready to enjoy what could be his final grand prix


ABU DHABI – Jenson Button says that he has enjoyed his race weekend in Abu Dhabi so far despite knowing that it could prove to be his final appearance as a Formula 1 driver after 14 years in the sport.

McLaren is yet to confirm its line up for the 2015 season, but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is likely to return to Woking after seven years away, leaving either Button or teammate Kevin Magnussen on the sidelines.

Although Button has more experience, Magnussen only made his debut at the beginning of the season, and is yet to truly prove what he can do in Formula 1 thanks to the troublesome MP4-29 car. Should the Dane get the nod for 2015, it could be Button that is left out in the cold.

McLaren has confirmed that it will be making its driver announcement after December 1st, meaning that Button will not be given a send off if this weekend’s race does prove to be his final race.

However, this does not faze Button. Although the prospect is playing on his mind, he is simply enjoying his racing surrounded by his closest family and friends in Abu Dhabi.

“A lot goes through your head, and it has been for the last few months,” Button said. “When you’re out of the car, you’re unsure how to feel really, but when I drive the car, nothing’s different.

“Of course, in the car compared to out of the car is very different to normal, so I probably enjoy my driving a little bit more because I’m away from all the questions and away from people in the pit lane smiling at me more than normal, or sort of a little unhappy face. It’s a weird situation to be in, it really is, but there you go.

“For me, the important thing is that I enjoy today. Yesterday was a very difficult day for us as a team, but I feel we brought it back. I was little bit disappointed in Q3 because of the traffic issues that we had. Qualified eighth, and hopefully that’s a position we can build on for the race tomorrow. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“My whole family will be here to enjoy tomorrow with them whatever happens. That’s the most important thing right now.”

Button has recently been tweeting some memories from his career, and posted a picture of his driver room for the weekend that contained pictures of his finest moments in Formula 1. However, he said that this should not be read into too much.

“The pictures that are in my room, that’s a lovely gift from the BBC, stuck on the wall by my lovely physio – nothing to do with me whatsoever,” Button said. “I hope this isn’t my last grand prix, I really do, because I feel I have a lot to give.

“But, of course, there’s something in the back of your mind thinking it possibly could be, so you have to enjoy it as much as you can.

“I’m going to do the best job I can, but off-circuit with family and friends, obviously we talk about things probably more than we would normally. So far I’ve enjoyed this weekend, and it’s great having my family here.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.