McLaren have effectively confirmed that Jenson Button plans to retire after an inadvertent press conference answer gave the game away.
Triple champion Lauda, now a non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team as well as a television pundit, told the BBC at the Japanese Grand Prix that he had spoken to Button about the situation.
There are those who say he only won the world championship because he was in the best auto in that Brawn in 2009, but the same could be said of Lewis Hamilton, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
I was saying to the other guys at Sky that we need to get a body language expert in to read him when he’s talking about next year.
And as his co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond decided to quit the show to join him on a new auto show for Amazon Prime, Chris is now looking to put together his own team of hosts.
Regardless of his future in Formula 1 after this season, Jenson Button fully deserves to be called a great. “I hope we have done enough between us to continue those discussions with him and have the confidence to have him with us”.
“It will be sad to see such a great driver who is still in his element, still on form and still fit leave, but he has been going a long, long time and I would completely understand if he has decided to do something different. But we didn’t really have a conversation as such”.
The rumours intensified after his manager Flavio Briatore told media that if Alonso was not given the chance to fight for podiums next year, he would quit before his current three-year contract ends. That tells me Jenson is trying to find a way that makes it happen and so are the team. We always say we do intend to keep Jenson when I have been asked, and Fernando has been clear.
On Thursday he added: “I don’t think any driver has joy when you are not fighting for victories”.
“Unfortunately we are in a hard time and the starting point was quite low but we are making progress as fast as we can”.
“We’ll try to do our best and hopefully some miracles to score some points”.