Sebastian Vettel believes that Jenson Button’s possible retirement from Formula 1 would mark “a big loss” for the sport as speculation about the Briton’s future continues to swirl.
Button was reportedly set to announce his retirement from the sport after 16 years ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, only for the Briton to say on Thursday that he was still engaged in talks with McLaren about his future.
The team is keen to keep Button on for 2016 and pair him with Fernando Alonso once again, but the 2009 world champion admitted earlier this week that did not get the same joy out of racing at the back of the grid.
Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference, Vettel spoke fondly of Button, saying that the F1 paddock would be a poorer place should he decide to walk away from the sport.
“It would be a loss, for sure,” Vettel said. “I remember when I was a little kid and he was considered very very young, joining Formula 1. I have to give you that he looked very young when he started with Williams.
“Nowadays though, you have guys who are 17 who are starting already, so in that case he was already old when he started, or I was quite old.
“Certainly, he’s a big character. We know that he’s quick, he deserves to be a champion and I’m sure that if there were more years when he had the package to win the big one, he would have had a big say in that.
“The quality is out of doubt. On top of that he’s a very fair guy on the track. Outside the track, I think we all like him for many reasons so it would be a big loss.”
Button, sat alongside, Vettel, was light-hearted in his response. “Thank you mate, I’ll start crying in a minute, it’s so emotional!” he joked.