Three bat­tle it out for 2016 McLaren seat

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Jen­son But­ton, Kevin Mag­nussen and Stof­fel Van­doorne all in con­tention to part­ner Alonso next year

McLaren are fac­ing a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion over their 2016 driver line-up, with at least three op­tions to part­ner Fer­nando Alonso – all of them al­ready un­der con­tract to the team.

Dou­ble cham­pion Alonso is signed un­til the end of 2017, with the in­ten­tion that he lead McLaren and Honda to the world ti­tle. And there is ev­ery in­di­ca­tion that the Spa­niard in­tends to see out his con­tract. The ques­tion is who will part­ner Alonso, with Jen­son But­ton, re­serve driver Kevin Mag­nussen and GP2 Se­ries pace­set­ter Stof­fel Van­doorne all in con­tention. McLaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier has said that he has not given the is­sue any se­ri­ous thought, but he needs to do so soon.

Kevin Mag­nussen raced for the team in 2014, and both Boul­lier and McLaren chair­man Ron Dennis wanted to have him in the car along­side Alonso this year. But board mem­ber and share­holder Man­sour Ojjeh said he pre­ferred But­ton, and Dennis de­cided not to fight it be­cause he is try­ing to get into a po­si­tion to buy Ojjeh’s 25 per cent share­hold­ing, plus a small part of the 50 per cent owned by Mum­ta­lakat, the in­vest­ment arm of the King­dom of Bahrain, to take ma­jor­ity con­trol of the com­pany. Dennis felt that, with his eye on the big­ger pic­ture, it was not worth up­set­ting Ojjeh over the driver line-up.

But­ton was signed to a ‘one-plus-one’ con­tract – which cov­ered 2015, with an op­tion on the team’s side to re­tain him for 2016. The in­ten­tion

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