McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis has rejected speculation suggesting that Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso may not be racing with the team in 2016, confirming that he plans to keep both drivers for next season.
Button had been tipped to announce his retirement from Formula 1 ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, but confirmed on Thursday that he remains engaged in “good talks” with McLaren about his future.
McLaren’s downturn in on-track fortunes in 2015 has left both Button and Alonso frustrated, causing speculation about their futures with the team to ignite at Suzuka.
However, in an interview with the BBC, Dennis reacted to these rumors by confirming that both Button and Alonso had contracts with the team for 2016 that McLaren would honor.
“Jenson is on a two-year contract and Fernando is on a three-year contract. It’s as simple as that,” Dennis said. “At the end of the day, nothing has been clearer.
“They’ve got agreements in place. We’ll honor the agreement because we want to. We want to have both of them in the team, it’s as simple as that. We will have a winning team and we hope sooner rather than later.”
McLaren was thought to have an option to extend Button’s contract into a second years, which was reportedly set to expire at the end of the month.
However, Dennis revealed that McLaren in fact has the option to terminate Button’s contract, and the team will not be exercising this.
“It has an option to stop,” Dennis said. “I told Jenson on Thursday – probably too late – that I have no intention of exercising the option. He was told on Thursday we have no intention of exercising the option.”
Button’s place was reportedly at risk due to the financial standing of McLaren, which has worsened since it dropped down the grid in 2015 and given that the team is racing without a title sponsor.
Dennis rejected this idea, though, saying: “Money doesn’t come into it. Of course it’s tough when you move down the grid, but at the end of the day, money doesn’t come into it.”