But­ton re­tained as Ron fights for con­trol

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

McLaren fi­nally opt to keep Jen­son But­ton on a two-year con­tract, leav­ing Kevin Mag­nussen with­out a race seat

McLaren set­tled on their driver line-up in mid-De­cem­ber, choos­ing Jen­son But­ton to part­ner Fer­nando Alonso. The decision comes as team chief Ron Den­nis pushes to take con­trol of the newly named McLaren Tech­nol­ogy Group.

Alonso’s ar­rival from Fer­rari was known long be­fore the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, but McLaren de­cided to keep 2009 world cham­pion But­ton ahead of his 2014 team­mate Kevin Mag­nussen at the last minute. Mag­nussen has been re­tained as “third, re­serve and test driver”.

Team boss Ron Den­nis said a that the de­lay in choos­ing But­ton was due to some “causes of con­cern” about the 2009 world cham­pion. He did not go into de­tail about what th­ese were but they seem to sur­round Den­nis’s un­cer­tainty about whether But­ton had the ap­petite for another sea­son in F1.

“I gave Jen­son some ideas on so­lu­tions,” said Den­nis, “and he said: ‘No prob­lem.’ Then it was very easy. We set­tled all the things be­tween us that con­cerned me and what we all have to do is de­liver against the com­mit­ments and prom­ises we have made to each other.”

But­ton will drive for McLaren in 2015 with the op­tion of a sec­ond year in 2016.

Den­nis is be­lieved to have been lean­ing to­wards re­tain­ing Mag­nussen, and had been try­ing to raise money in Den­mark to make the choice eas­ier, while his for­mer friend and fel­low share­holder Man­sour Oj­jeh pre­ferred But­ton.

Ac­cord­ing to in­sid­ers, Den­nis is try­ing to re­gain con­trol of the McLaren Group, and felt the driver choice was a bat­tle he did not need to ght. Den­nis, who owns 25 per cent of the company’s shares, has struck an agree­ment with fel­low share­hold­ers Oj­jeh and Mum­ta­lakat, the in­vest­ment arm of the King­dom of Bahrain, to let him buy enough shares to take his hold­ing over 50 per cent.

The deal struck is not an agree­ment to sell – it is an agree­ment that Oj­jeh and Mum­ta­lakat can sell at a given price, if they wish to do so, should Den­nis raise re­quired funds within a spec­i­fied time.

The time limit is the rst ma­jor ob­sta­cle for Den­nis, who has been try­ing to raise money to fund a buy-out for at least two years. Another ob­sta­cle is that it is not clear whether Oj­jeh, and per­haps even Mum­ta­lakat, ac­tu­ally want to sell. A McLaren spokesman said: “No trans­ac­tion has taken place, but the share­hold­ers have had dis­cus­sions on how to best fa­cil­i­tate and en­hance the fu­ture growth of the McLaren Group. When and if a trans­ac­tion takes place, it is not en­vi­sioned that the cur­rent share­hold­ers will exit McLaren com­pletely, and an­nounce­ments would be made at the

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