Road ahead un­clear for But­ton at McLaren de­spite Dennis claims

The Herald - Sport - - FINAL SAY - PHILIP DUN­CAN

JEN­SON BUT­TON has cast fur­ther doubt over his For­mula One fu­ture by re­fut­ing Ron Dennis’s claim that he will still be a McLaren driver in 2016.

Dennis said af­ter Sun­day’s Ja­panese Grand Prix that both But­ton and his team-mate Fer­nando Alonso would re­main with the be­lea­guered Bri­tish team next term. But, in yet another twist in But­ton’s drawn-out con­tract saga, the Bri­ton has hinted that his where­abouts be­yond this sea­son are still un­de­cided.

But­ton signed a two-year deal with McLaren last year, but the sec­ond term is op­tion­able for both par­ties. “Ev­ery week I’ve spo­ken to Ron and I’m not go­ing to say if any­thing is re­solved be­cause we’re still dis­cussing,” said But­ton, who fin­ished a mis­er­able 16th in Ja­pan on Sun­day.

“We’ll have to wait and see (if I’m here). I’m not go­ing to com­ment on some­thing that isn’t go­ing one way or the other. I can’t com­ment on some­thing I don’t know the fu­ture of yet. I want to race in a com­pet­i­tive car. If we have that in For­mula One, I want to race. That’s what ev­ery driver dreams of – we’re out there to com­pete at the front. Who knows if it’s not?”

But­ton’s fu­ture took cen­tre-stage in Suzuka af­ter it was re­ported he was ready to bring the cur­tain down on his world-cham­pi­onship win­ning ca­reer. But­ton, who has been linked with a new ca­reer in the media as a pre­sen­ter of Top Gear, as well as a move to the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, joined McLaren in 2010. McLaren want to keep But­ton, but it re­mains to be seen whether the English­man can be con­vinced to stay with the team who are in the midst of ar­guably their worst-ever cam­paign in F1. Dennis, how­ever, was un­equiv­o­cal when asked if But­ton would still be with McLaren next year. “Yes. What more do you want?” he told Sky Sports F1.

Dennis added: “I should have taken away any doubt of our com­mit­ment to him ear­lier than I did. I did not speak to him un­til Thurs­day but it would have been more con­struc­tive if he had known I had no in­ten­tion to ex­er­cise our op­tion to ter­mi­nate his con­tract. I in­formed Jen­son ac­cord­ingly, but I could have done it a cou­ple of days ear­lier.”

But­ton’s team-mate Alonso’s fu­ture is also shrouded in mys­tery af­ter he said he did not know whether he would be in the sport next year. The Spa­niard, who has a three-year deal with McLaren, later moved to clar­ify his com­ments with a se­ries of tweets where he claimed he wants to see out his ca­reer with the Bri­tish out­fit.

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