McLaren to replace Button with Vandoorne in 2016


Italia Racing claims their sources indicate there will be a big announcement come the resumption of F1 racing in Spa, Belgium.

Jenson Button is set to be replaced at McLaren in 2016 by the current GP2 series leader, Stoffel Vandoorne.

Towards the end of 2014, speculation was rife that Button was about to be shown the door in Woking in favour of McLaren young gun Kevin Magnussen.

However, Jenson prevailed, and it was Magnussen out in the cold.

Ron Dennis recently insisted to SKY, “Jenson Button has a two-year contract with McLaren. We are not even thinking about drivers at the moment.” But given the probability that Kimi Raikkonen will be replaced by Bottas at Ferrari next year, Jenson has been positively linked with a return to where F1 began for him back in 2000 – at Grove with Williams.

The departure of Alex Zanardi from Williams at the end of 1999, gave Jenson his big opportunity as he was offered a ‘shoot out’ style test for Frank Williams against Formula 3000 racer Bruno Junqueira.

Jenson won the day and became Britain’s youngest F1 driver.

Yet despite Gerhard Berger calling the young Button ‘a phenomenon’ and Jenson being described by Paul Lemmens as ‘like Senna’, the man from Frome’s first time around in Sir Frank’s team was a disappointment and he was replaced after a year by Juan Pablo Montoya.

Jenson was set to return to Williams from BAR in 2006, though the Anglo American team paid Sir Frank £18m in compensation to retain Jenson’s services alongside the newly recruited Rubens Barichello.

If Button makes the move from Woking to Grove, It will have been many a year since a move from McLaren to Williams has been perceived as a promotion up the grid.

Of course McLaren will say with 9 races to go, their true potential this year has not yet been on display.

Yet given the cycles and time-scales for change in Formula One, the betting man on the street would surely plumb for a final 2016 constructors’ championship table that see’s Sir Frank’s outfit outscore Bog Ron’s.

43 responses to “McLaren to replace Button with Vandoorne in 2016

  1. the Inevitable comes to be, his F1 days were numbered, and let’s be honest, he has not shown anything since lucking out and winning the driver championship with Brawn. I never rated Button as a racer, only as a driver, but I understand a lot of people do. I think it’s time someone younger gets a chance to shine in F1. I agree Button can be a useful 2nd driver, he drives smoothly but only manages a couple of points here and there, without counting this season.

    • Does ‘only manages a couple of point here and there’ say anything about a certain ex team-mate who he out-scored over their three seasons together? 😉

      I think what he has shown is that when everything is to his liking he is one of the fastest drivers out there, the problem comes when things aren’t going his way he doesn’t have the capacity of drivers such as Alonso to drag a result out of the car.

      Personally, I think they are more likely to get better long-term results by keeping Jenson for next season and putting Vandoorne in once they have a car and engine that works. He will struggle to get anywhere if the 2016 car is as poor as the 2015 one and it could end up terminating his career before it starts.

    • Don’t forget that Button is a British super-hero icon. The longer he races, the more British racing fans will be watching races and rooting for McLaren, which is good for sponsorship. Some of the successful drivers are true magnets for sponsorship money. I am sure guys like Alonso, Vettel, Button, and Hamilton bring or brought a lot of revenue to the teams simply because good sponsors followed them.

      • Button.. well maybe Vodafone liked the ‘all British’ line up, but viewer numbers tanked when he was the ‘lead Brit’ pre-Hamilton, and once Hamilton left, McLaren picked up Perez as the best midfield choice that brought money ($5m), and are now struggling to find sponsors.

        If ‘best of British’ worked they could have signed di Resta, who had tested for the team before. None of the replacements are British either. Massa and Button are on declining salaries to stay around, whereas the top 3 are well clear with Raikkonen 4th, if less than previous heights.

    • Always makes me laugh when someone on the outside thinks a driver should just give up his passion so another (younger) can have a chance.
      If the older driver isn’t giving the team what they want, then surly the team will make the decision. To suggest that a driver who has out scored his teammate in three of the last 4 years (2011-2014) should make way for someone younger is without merit. The one time he was beaten it was by Hamilton and then only by two points. I can’t really make a case, because McLaren has had only two races with both cars finishing.

  2. McLaren denials are now out on this issue (via Pitpass I believe). The tweet I read this Vandoorne for JB topic originally on a few hours ago also said that Kimi would stay at Ferrari next year, to be confirmed at Monza. Stay tuned everyone, it’s called silly season for a good reason.

    • It’s not as silly as last season’s silly season. I wonder if the rumours about Jenson being linked with one of the Top Gear presenter jobs has any merit i.e. looking for opportunities outside of F1.

      • And they do like to have him in front of the camera’s at the BBC. So that might be an option.

  3. It’s strange that TJ13 is reporting this story just hours after the news that Button, wife, and friends have been gassed in a home and robbed.

    Anyways, it’s really interesting that Button is now willing to move to a different team. I recall how in 2011-2012 he was making statements along the lines of “I will not be another Truli”, and McLaren will be his last team. Of course, nobody could have predicted back then that McLaren could sink below Williams.

  4. I actually think this would be a win/win/win situation.

    for williams they would be replacing a highly rated yet inconsistent young driver with an unhighly rated (for whatever reason) yet inconsistent former world champ. Only teasing (80%), I think Button has an awful lot to offer still and when all is said and done he did stack up well against Lewis (hard to judge vs alonso to be fair, but don’t see him being Massa’d by the Samurai).

    for Mclaren it looks like a long road back to glory, and Vandoorne has looked a class act in GP2 this year, 2016 to develop alongside Alonso should set him up nicely for 2017 if he’s got the goods and if McLaren (read Honda) can deliver on all those crazy promises.

    For Button himself as mentioned its probably a move up the grid, at least over the first year (or two), not sure he’ll go much longer than a couple of years more anyway, so perfect fit (or as good as is available to him).

    This all assumes Bottas to Ferrari is a done deal, any chance Bottas/Button could team up and leave Massa out in the cold? Admittedly would seem unlikely from a financial perspective if nothing else, but gives us a brief what if to consider during the boring summer break 🙂

  5. Hmmm so now the piece I wrote a few weeks ago that Jenson might be a possible option for Williams, doesn’t seem so gossipy now, like someone mentioned……

  6. Personally I say McLaren should get rid of them both and start a fresh with the younger pairing of Stoffel and K-mag.

    New project, new driver partnership with long term goals in sight.

    • I agree to a certain point but I don’t believe they can justify dumping Alonso after one year. And they certainly can’t justify a rookie and a half rookie in their team. Although I believe they are both extremely good rookies. I don’t think that is what sponsors and investors want to see… maybe they bring vandoorne in for a year alongside Alonso and dump him for 2017 (alonso). And bring magnussen in then.

      • They should have done that this year. No point having two top drivers when the car and engine isn’t up to scratch. They could also have saved a lot of money to put in to engine development…

    • RBR have shown that would be a good move to make.. but McLaren like Ferrari are too conservative. When Vet-Rai was announced (Hun 2013), they were 1-2 in the standings, but then the tyres changed to get harder, which didn’t suit Kimi at all.

      Alonso-Button would’ve been one of the best line ups around 2010, but time is ticking.. there’s no doubt that Vandoorne-Magnussen would really be hitting their peak by the time McLaren-Honda is a front running package again (if), say 3-5 years.

      Solution: From the 80s – Farm one out until ready to win, while Alonso has another year or two to guide the package back to winning form and teach the other junior.

  7. I think Button is desperate to stay in F1 for as long as possible. The paycuts, the optimistic views on the McLaren Honda, he is just being a good employer so it would not surprise me if he took a drive with any other team, how much worse could it be than the current car he is driving? I think the best for him is to go to Top Gear or be a commentator for F1 races, he would bring much more to the table in that capacity than he can in the driving to win capacity these days. I think he can be a better commentator than Coulthard

    • I recall Button saying back in 2011 or so that he will not be another, Jarno Trulli. That he will not retire racing from the back of grid. Granted, racing for Williams does look promising. One of the least consistent teams of the grid (after horrible 2011 and 2013 seasons) is finally getting its act together.

  8. Button and Massa has to be the oldest and most BORING driver pairing in recent history!

    How Williams have fallen 🙁

    • On top of it being a boring pairing, Massa would totally destroy Button… (said the Australian on an English website.)

      What could we infer from that?

      That if Button can beat Hamilton over a three year period, and get the highest WDC position of the two in the same three years, that Massa is by default better than Hamilton?

      From that, do we then infer that the Ferrari was weaker than the McLaren in 2008 and Massa is the “real” champion, as Hamilton was then clearly wasting up a superior car advantage?

      Do we then infer that if Massa is greater, and taking into account Schumacher’s superiority over Massa in 2006, that Schumacher is the greatest of all time?

      Do we then infer from that that Senna isn’t the greatest, by virtue of the fact that Schumacher is, and then incrementally raise Prost’s profile somewhat as a result?

      If so, do we then infer that Lauda beating Prost makes him at least on par with Senna?

      If so, do we then assumed given Hunt beat Lauda once, that Hunt is far greater than Senna and actually a challenge for Schumacher’s Greatest of all Time title?

      Do we then infer that sex IS the breakfast of champions?

      If so, what do we tell our children, the ones training to be the best? “Have a drink, a fuck, sleep in and train later… if you feel like it?”

      What are the implications of all this?

      Of course there’s a whole different scenario if Button beats Massa… which goes something like this.

      If… (Ahhhh just kidding, I’m not that insane)

  9. Oldest? Don’t be so disrespectful to most of your fellow readers.

    Age doesn’t matter as much as you think, given that a slight majority rate the Alonso/Button pairing as the best on the grid right now.

    if you think they (and Massa) are old then you’ve got a very rude awakening coming your way.

  10. Button and Alonso the best pairing on the grid? Have you seen them not being able to finish a race? Not make it through to Q3? Perhaps if they were all driving Mercs, but with the McLaren Honda it doesn’t matter if the drivers have won Championships, if Alonso can’t drag that thing onto the podium, no one can.

  11. Hulkenberg + Button would be the best pair for Williams interests.

    Then read it as it Follows:
    Williams: Hulkenberg/Button
    Ferrari: Vettel/Bottas
    Lotus: Magnussen/Maldonado
    Renault (ex Manor): Grosgean/Massa
    Haas F1: Gutierrez/Raikkonen

    The rest staying the same.

    • I can’t see Kimi going to Haas. Even more than Jenson he would be the sort to walk away from the sport completely unless he was in a top 3 or 4 team. I also can’t see Massa leaving Williams and going elsewhere – he’s found his comfort zone and to be honest I can’t see any need to move him on as he is doing well enough.

      I think the main question is – have Ferrari actually signed Bottas or are they just playing games with us all? It doesn’t seem a good choice for them in many ways but maybe they are just trying to shake things up and see who is looking unsteady? Could they actually be interested in Jenson if it looks like McLaren are intent on promoting a youngster?

      And what about Nasr to Williams? He was their test driver for a long time so maybe promote him alongside Massa for a season then replace Massa with the Hulk?

  12. Odd that no one has suggested this is Fred’s doing? The McHonda might well be crap, but Fred doesn’t want a team mate scoring more points than himself. Anyway, why would Ron Dennis want to pay Button a small fortune to drive around at the back of the field or even midfield, when he can get a driver for a tenth or less of what JB is receiving. It’s not like McLaren have money to burn, with their income next year taking a huge hit on what it was 2 seasons ago.
    I can’t see Button staying in F1 from the end of the year, he’s already had 9 lives and Frank ‘Tightarse’ Williams won’t be paying more than £500k for a Bottas replacement – should he need to replace Bottas.

    • The Bahraini owners wanted Button – and they are richer than Ron, so he sucked up the 4m salary for Jenson. Ron wanted K-Mag for the pittance as described.

  13. I have liked JB since I saw him do an interview on an airport runway [sic] while spinning a BMW [sic] at about 160 Kmh way back in the day. IMHO, he does not rank among the very finest F1 drivers/champs ever, but I do think he has been better than most give him credit for.
    I hope he is finally free to be in charge of the near future of his life. maybe that would be at Force India or Williams or wow – at Haas – for 2 years. or to break away to WEC or WRC or IndtCar or Nascar or to do Top Gear and a vintage car run at Goodwood.
    I am happy if JB gets to be happy

  14. “Stacked up well against Lewis”..well the shareholders didn’t think so, that’s why Whitmarsh had to go!!

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