Formula 1

Jenson Button should reject any McLaren offer for 2015

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In the next 24 hours, Formula 1 fans are expecting to hear the announcement of one of the sport's most shocking returns and the fate of one of it's most respected figures.

Fernando Alonso is set to be confirmed as a McLaren driver for the return of Honda power in 2015 but the decision as to whether the team will retain Jenson Button for a fifth season is uncertain.

The Briton has been a part of F1 for 14 years making his début as a fresh-faced 20-year-old for Williams back in 2000 and in that time has done it all in the sport.

The thought of him leaving has been met by huge support from fans and figures alike calling on McLaren boss Ron Dennis to keep the 34-year-old as part of an all-star pairing, but recent indications have suggested otherwise.

The team has recently claimed that the points standings, which Button led convincingly over team-mate Kevin Magnussen, will not be a factor in who gets the nod and Dennis has also reportedly been in Denmark, Magnussen's home country, to discuss possible sponsorship deals.

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It also seems likely McLaren want to keep the mix of experience and long-term prospect which an Alonso - Magnussen pairing would offer.

But what if McLaren did offer Button a contract for 2015 and possibly beyond? Should he still sign it? Here's why I think not.

McLaren lacking respect

Much of it comes down to one thing, respect. Jenson Button is a former world champion and has enjoyed success with McLaren and also Honda.

The fact they felt the need to chase Fernando Alonso would be enough to ask questions as to just how committed to Button they are. It is understood Sporting Director Eric Boullier is not a big fan of Jenson but he has proven that he can still battle with the best even in an under-performing car and for me that is not much below what Alonso can do.

Obviously in attracting someone with the requirements of the former two-time world champion, negotiations have been hard and the time it has taken to come to an agreement longer than most expected.

But surely if there was a belief that eventually Alonso would sign on the dotted line then what prevented McLaren at least coming to an agreement over which driver they would definitely keep?

Money a key factor

Money seems to be a part of the story in more than one way, with Dennis reportedly in Denmark meeting with Magnussen's backers, would larger sponsorship revenue put the 22-year-old ahead of Button who has an association with the Abbey bank, part of the larger Santander group, but likely doesn't want to go down the route Felipe Massa went gaining sponsorship that was key to his Williams seat for this year and beyond.

Also there is the subject driver wages, with Alonso set for a record salary, can McLaren afford to maintain the Spaniard and Button in the same team?

If not, would it again show a lack of respect to Button to ask him to likely take a pay cut in order to remain at the team after four committed seasons with them?

Would Alonso parity be guaranteed?

I also have to ask what would be in it for Button to be a part of a McLaren team likely led by Alonso.

After all, given what happened the last time he was at McLaren, and don't rule out the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen as a reason for departing Ferrari, it wouldn't be too surprising if the 33-year-old held some sway next year.

There is the obvious desire for Button to go head-to-head against the man most still see as the best driver on the grid today but again that previous thought may not be too far away from most people's mind.

Even without Alonso you still have to question if the Honda reunion can turn around the woes the team has had the past couple of years. This year it wasn't the power unit as they had the best one on the grid, instead it was aerodynamically where they were lacking and its improvements there that will just as crucial to how successful the 2015 car is.

Does Button still have F1 hunger?

Then there is the other factors, does Button still have the motivation for F1 given remarks from several current and former drivers that this era of the sport is not as enjoyable as it was 10 or so years ago.

WEC, Button's most likely option outside of McLaren, is attracting more interest and the quality of the races and the type of racing is helping it gain fans who have become disenchanted with the more 'artificial' F1 of today.

At 34, is it that Button's best years in Formula 1 are behind him and sports cars could be a fresh challenge for the remainder of his racing career?

I think that while he still has plenty to offer F1, Button would make the wrong move to stay with McLaren if he wants to achieve success, the arrival of Alonso will change the landscape in Woking and with all the support he has, I think its time to leave with his head held high because if the sport doesn't want him, someone somewhere else gladly will.

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