Button McLaren sabbatical no Alonso insurance policy, says Dennis

Ron Dennis insists replacing Jenson Button with Stoffel Vandoorne for 2017, but retaining an option on Button's services, is not insurance against Fernando Alonso potentially leaving McLaren-Honda in 2018

Button McLaren sabbatical no Alonso insurance policy, says Dennis

The three-year deal Alonso signed when he left Ferrari at the end of 2014 expires after next season, and the Spaniard has previously said he could quit F1 if next year's new regulations do not succeed in making the championship more challenging for drivers.

Vandoorne has repeatedly said he had other options to race on the grid next season.

McLaren's decision to promote him while offering Button fresh terms prevents McLaren potentially losing Vandoorne to a rival for next season while retaining the services of an experienced past champion should Alonso decide to leave when his current contract expires.

But Dennis denied creating an insurance policy for his team was the purpose of this arrangement.

"It's not designed to be an insurance policy on anything," Dennis said.

"It's designed to be an innovative strategy for our driver line-up for next year and beyond, and that's exactly what it is."

Jenson Button on his Formula 1 career

Vandoorne has been a hot property in F1 circles after dominating the GP2 championship in 2015 and scoring a point on his grand prix debut while subbing for an injured Alonso in Bahrain earlier this year, so would have been a target for other teams for 2017 should McLaren have chosen not to promote him.

McLaren has supported Vandoorne's career since he won the Formula Renault Eurocup title in 2012, and Dennis said he now expected Vandoorne to be a McLaren F1 driver for the long-term.

"There's nothing new in his contract," added Dennis. "We get very committed to drivers, and if a driver performs he stays with us a long time.

"Of course it's a contract that you would expect provides us with an opportunity for a long and successful relationship, but really his destiny is in his hands, and I'm pretty sure you'll see Stoffel in the car for some time."

BUTTON WANTED A BREAK FROM F1

Button will take a sabbatical from Formula 1 racing in 2017 as a result of this arrangement, having raced consecutively in every F1 season since 2000.

He held talks with Dennis at last weekend's Belgian GP at Spa, after deciding he would like to take a break from the rigours of fulltime F1 participation.

"Formula 1 is an addictive sport and stopping any form of addiction is challenging," said Dennis.

"This offer reflects the esteem in which the whole team holds Jenson - he's a really fantastic guy and there's no reason why he shouldn't come back and race in 2018.

"The only thing that he was hesitant about was hankering for a break.

"[But] it didn't have to be a complete break - this was an innovative way to provide the team with all the advantages of having Jenson in the team, complete with his abilities to drive if necessary, and give him what he wanted, which was a bit of relaxation time to enjoy some of the things that he hasn't been able to enjoy to date."

shares
comments
Pascal Wehrlein to carry out Mercedes' 2017 Pirelli F1 tyre tests

Previous article

Pascal Wehrlein to carry out Mercedes' 2017 Pirelli F1 tyre tests

Next article

Max Verstappen risks getting 'a bad name' – FIA's Charlie Whiting

Max Verstappen risks getting 'a bad name' – FIA's Charlie Whiting
Load comments
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Plus

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says MARK GALLAGHER, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021