After three mediocre seasons with McLaren, Jenson Button is still to learn of his fate with the Woking-based outfit, a situation which the 34 year-old described as 'laughable', in an interview with The Mirror.
Button joined McLaren at the start of the 2010 season, after a highly successful year with the now-defunct Brawn GP, with whom he won his first, and as yet only, Drivers' Championship.
Since then he has driven well, with stunning displays in changeable conditions, in Canada in 2011 for example, when he suffered a drive-through penalty, a puncture and a broken front wing but still managed to go from last to first in thirty laps.
Despite some incredible performances, McLaren's chassis over the last few seasons have not lived up to expectations, negating to an extent, the power of their Mercedes engines, which have shown their superiority this year in particular.
Two former champions facing uncertain futures
Since the news of Fernando Alonso's impending departure from Ferrari was announced (a subject of speculation from the start of this season), Button's future at McLaren was cast into further doubt, having waited for almost a year before this to sign another contract.
McLaren did, however, make clear that they would assess their options in the driver market before confirming their drivers for the coming season, though before the Japanese Grand Prix Eric Boullier, McLaren's Racing Director, stated that McLaren had 'more or less' confirmed their drivers for next year.
Limited chance of Button getting new team next season
If McLaren were to part ways with Button, there would be several teams that would be out of bounds for the Briton. Firstly, Ferrari have signed Sebastien Vettel from Red Bull and, despite a poor season, Kimi Raikkonen has gone without criticism and will remain with the Tifosi.
Daniel Ricciardo has shown that he is more than capable of challenging Sebastien Vettel and has won three races this season, to Vettel's none and as such, will remain at Red Bull, with Toro Rosso graduate Danii Kvyat joining him. With Toro Rosso having lost Kvyat and terminating their partnership with Jean-Eric Vergne there are two seats available at Red Bull's sister team - one of which will be filled by 17 year-old prodigy Max Verstappen.
This leaves Toro Rosso with a decision to make; do they opt for another brand new driver and risk their progress with two Formula 1 newbies (GP3 driver Alex Lynn is one name that has been discussed) or do they take on a more experienced driver - Jenson Button, perhaps?
There would certainly be positives to Toro Rosso signing Button, as he is renowned for his excellent technical feedback and his calm nature would perhaps rub off on young, hot-headed drivers who are liable to take unnecessary risks in order to establish themselves as talented drivers, a criticism made of GP2 drivers by Williams' Felipe Massa, after crashes in the Canadian and German Grands Prix, with GP2 graduates Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen respectively.
Will Alonso choose a season-long sabbatical?
There is one scenario that would see Button almost definitely hold onto his McLaren seat, though it seems highly improbable - Alonso taking a year away from Formula One in order to drive for Mercedes the following year.
However, Niki Lauda has said that Mercedes will not be signing Alonso and in an interview with Sky Sports, Alonso stated that his 'future is already set' and when asked by NBC if his car would be Mercedes powered, he told them that he 'did not think so'. Ruling out a move to Caterham or Marussia who would not be able to afford to pay his salary or Toro Rosso and Red Bull whose line-ups seem fairly certain, this would suggest that Alonso's only options would be to move to McLaren, Sauber - whose poor form would make it highy unlikely - or to stay at Ferrari.
As it is widely understood that Sebastien Vettel is to be Alonso's replacement, this would make McLaren the only feasible option, which on the surface makes Button's exit all the more likely. Regardless of what happens, an end to this purgatory is immanent and the 'laughable' situation will soon be over.
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