The 2009 British World Champion revealed to American broadcaster CNN that he’s had repeated talks of returning over the years with the team he started his career with back in 2000, including 2017.
Back in 2000, Williams BMW took on a young F3 champion described by pundits as ‘a phenomenon’ – a move that lead to a very long career in F1 with Williams, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn GP and McLaren. Ultimately delivering both drivers and constructors championship with Brawn GP in 2009.
By the end of 2016, his supposed last race in Abu Dhabi felt like a farewell, even if the 15-time GP winner always emphasised: “2017 is a time-out. My contract stipulates that I will race again in 2018.”
But could the Englishman race again in F1? Button admitted prior to his stand in for Fernando Alonso at Monaco this year, “I can’t say I missed driving since last November in Abu Dhabi.” but then elaborates further saying “But the GP in Monaco was really fun. Faster cars, more downforce, fat tires is exciting not only for the fans, but also for the drivers and the teams.”.
Going on to explain the talks with Williams, Button further says that “I would have almost come back to Williams three times, I’ve talked to them a few times and I was talking about a race seat for 2017 and 2018”.
During that period, Williams were unsure that Massa would return to fill the hole left by the sudden move of Bottas to Mercedes thus leaving the team searching for an experienced hand to sit alongside the rookie Lance Stroll. Claire Williams saw the potential of such a move saying at the time that “Jenson back at Williams would make a fine headline”
“He started his Formula One career in 2000, he is world champion, he is highly intelligent, he knows how to develop a car. Clearly this is an attractive alternative”
In the end the move didn’t happen due to Massa coming out of retirement and McLaren contracting Button for 2017 and 2018.
Should Alonso decide to up sticks and leave the Woking team, could a return to racing could be on the cards for Button? A combination of McLaren needing a veteran to race alongside the relatively inexperienced Stoffel Vandoorne plus Button’s enjoyment of driving these high downforce F1 cars at Monaco, however unlikely it seems now, could become a reality.