Cash-strapped McLaren set to keep Button (2nd Update)


Jenson Button

(GMM) Jenson Button looks set to keep his place at McLaren-Honda into 2016.

However, it is rumored that the team's woeful performance this year could mean the loss of some of the last remaining sponsors, such as Johnnie Walker and Santander.

The whisky brand confirmed to the Telegraph newspaper that "ongoing conversations" with the embattled British team are taking place.

It will combine with the major income hit of finishing near the bottom of this year's world championship, leaving former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton lamenting the fate of the once-great team.

"It feels very weird when you see this historic team fighting with Marussia (Manor)," he said. "I can't believe the team has got to this point."

So with McLaren likely looking to save money, one way to do that would be to dispense with Jenson Button and sign up the cheaper Kevin Magnussen for 2016.

Hamilton thinks that would be a mistake.

"That team needs direction," he said, "and they are going to need those two drivers (Button and Fernando Alonso) during that period."

The latest signs, however, are that Button's place is looking increasingly safe.

Team boss Eric Boullier said that although he wants Magnussen and fellow junior Stoffel Vandoorne to have race seats next year, McLaren is happy with its current drivers.

"We have two world champions today and we do intend to keep them, so far," said the Frenchman.

22-year-old Dane Magnussen is quoted by Britain's Mirror newspaper: "It looks like they're going to stay with the driver lineup as it is.

"I'm not prepared to sit around another year. I've decided I need to race next year and if I can't do that in formula o then I will try and do it somewhere else."

08/10/15 (GMM) McLaren has denied reports that an announcement about the Honda-powered team's driver plans for 2016 is now imminent.

Media reports claimed the Woking outfit has decided to pair Fernando Alonso next year with Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, the McLaren-backed current GP2 championship leader.

The reports said an announcement confirming Vandoorne, to the detriment of 2009 world champion Jenson Button who may retire and join the British motoring program Top Gear, will be made next weekend in Belgium.

But a team spokesman is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo: "The information is inaccurate.

"There will be no driver announcement in Spa. Actually, we will discuss and decide on our race drivers for 2016 when it is appropriate," he added.


Stoffel Vandoorne has decimated the GP2 field this year

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne will be Fernando Alonso's new teammate at McLaren-Honda next year.

That is the claim of the specialist Italian-language publication Italiaracing, citing sources.

The report said it will be announced by the Woking team at Spa-Francorchamps after the summer break that 23-year-old Belgian Vandoorne, the McLaren junior and GP2 series leader, will replace 35-year-old veteran Button for 2016.

Recently, Briton Button, the 2009 world champion, has been linked with a new presenting role for the popular British motoring program Top Gear.

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