Three battle it out for 2016 McLaren seat
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