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Neale: McLaren must respect Button’s decision

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McLaren CEO Jonathan Neale has said that the team must respect whatever decision Jenson Button makes about his future in Formula 1 as speculation about the Briton retiring from the sport continues to swirl.

Button had been tipped to announce ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix that he would be walking away from F1 at the end of the season.

However, he confirmed on Thursday that he was still engaged in “good talks” with the team about his future, suggesting that he could still be on the grid in 2016.

In Friday’s team personnel press conference, Neale re-affirmed that McLaren is keen to keep Button for 2016, but that it must respect the decision that Button takes.

“I get the sense from the media there was a big anti-climax yesterday and there was a lot of discussion about where Jenson was at,” Neale said.

“Jenson is a fantastic guy, a world champion and a big part of the family at Honda and McLaren – he’s been with us for six seasons – and we’re contracted with him, we want him to stay, we like him very much.

“But if your driver doesn’t really want to be in the seat we have to respect that. I really hope that we have done enough between us to continue those discussions with him and have the confidence to have him with us, and that’s what we’d like.”

Despite appearing to hint that Button had already made up his mind and wanted to leave McLaren, Neale clarified his comments when speaking to NBCSN following the press conference.

“Given the speculation that has been around and some of the things that Jenson has said, it can’t be of great surprise to either you or the audience that there is some reflection or introspection going on in Jenson,” Neale said.

“That’s what my quote was and I’m merely stating what I think is the blindingly obvious. We have a contract with Jenson, there’s no ambiguity about that.

“We really like Jenson, he’s been a fantastic driver and ambassador. He’s had some fearsome teammates, recently in Lewis and now with Fernando, and even though we’re having a troubling year, it’s a fantastic environment in which to move the programme forwards.

“We’ve learned a lot from both Jenson and Fernando together. I’d like to keep it like that, but, if there’s introspection and reflection going on, I have to respect that.”

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.