Over the weekend, the McLaren-Honda team have denied reports circulating the internet which claim that Stoffel Vandoorne will replace Jenson Button in 2016, to partner Fernando Alonso at the Woking team.
The reports that have been go on to claim that an announcement will be made at the Belgian Grand Prix in a fortnight.
Whilst the team aren’t denying a change to their driver line-up is possible, they said no decision has been made and an announcement certainly won’t come at the next race. Over the weekend, a team spokesperson has stated the following regarding the reports that have been circulating through the paddock as follows:-
‘The reports are inaccurate. No driver announcement will be made at Spa. On the contrary, we will discuss, decide and announce our 2016 driver line-up when the time is right.’
While Button signed a two-year deal with the team after prolonged negotiations, however it’s believed the second year is an option and the team aren’t obliged to run him, even though McLaren chairman Ron Dennis ealier hinted that he would stay in an interview with the media recently as follows:-
‘Jenson Button has a two-year contract with McLaren. We are not even thinking about drivers at the moment.’
Even though both the McLaren-Honda team and Ron Dennis are denying the rumours that are circulating throughout the paddock at the moment; they still could decide not to take up Button on their option to give him a second year but this would be a stupid decision. As Button has 16 years of experience in the sport and has a great relationship with Honda which could prove beneficial to all parties.
However, Button could simply decide that he wishes to move on to other options to get a better chance of winning races and championships and leave the team at the end of the season; thereby opening the door to Vandoorne. But I just don’t see this happening until at least the end of the 2016 season which is when most of the major drivers contracts are up for renewal.
There’s no question that Vandoorne has been particularly impressive this year in GP2 where he leads the championship and has shown that he has the speed, promise and potential to shine in Formula One whenever he gets the call to move forward. And if he wins the GP2 championship this season, this will only help his cause to move into Formula One.
Overall, even though McLaren-Honda have denied the rumours with regards to their driver line up especially with Button, they will still be keeping an eye on the driver market and also on Vandoorne as well. I personally believe that Button will remain at McLaren until the end of his contract in 2016, then he’ll leave the team and maybe even the sport and Vandoorne will take his place.
Button deserves to see out his contract with the team and also try and get some success under his belt before he leaves the sport he loves and has loyally served. Even though Button is my driver and I don’t want him to leave, it is evitable that he will and I will follow him in whatever he decides to do after F1.
But only time will tell what McLaren-Honda will do and also if I am right in what I have predicted the case to be. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this situation, so leave a comment underneath!