Now the most experienced man on the F1 grid, Jenson Button is adamant 2014 will not be his last year in F1.
The Briton, who is out of contract after this season, had a difficult preseason following the loss of his father.
Professionally, new team-mate, rookie Kevin Magnussen, out-qualified him and beat him in the race to claim an eventual second following Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion.
Button too was impressive in Sunday’s race in Melbourne. At a circuit he is always done well at, he started tenth and battled hard to claim the final podium place in third.
While it was Magnussen getting all the plaudits, particularly from new team boss Eric Boullier, who called his weekend “one of the finest performances by a Formula One rookie in living memory”, Button insists he is not ready to pass on the torch just yet.
“I’ve had a great career,” Button is quoted by the Telegraph, “but for me it’s definitely not near the end.
“People have said ‘Ah, he’s 34, end of your contract, what are you going to do at the end of this year?’ It’s going to be the same as any other year,” the Briton insisted.
Some are drawing comparisons between Button and now Le Mans driver Mark Webber who left Red Bull at the end of last year. The 37-year-old later admitted he retired because he knew he wasn’t performing to the level he once was.
However, Button claims it will be up to McLaren to decide if he is good enough.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a contract, if a team don’t think you’re doing a good enough job then they’ll get rid of you, and if you’re doing a great job they’ll want you for 10 years more,” he said.
Asked what he would do if McLaren decided to offload him, Button claimed he wasn’t looking that far ahead yet.
“I’m here at McLaren and that’s where I’m happy to be. I’m not going to get worried either way,” he insisted.
With Magnussen proving his worth and other youngsters – particularly Stoffel Vandoorne who raced alongside the Dane in Formula Renault 3.5 last year and is part of the McLaren youth system – knocking on the door, some believe tensions could grow inside the team if Magnussen continues to beat Button.
“I think you should ask that question to Mercedes or Ferrari,” Boullier is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “for us there is no problem.”
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