It is no secret that McLaren-Honda has struggled the past 2 seasons. The Honda power unit has struggled to match their rivals. Given their struggles, and the past success of their drivers, this has led to rampant speculation on Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso’s future. One of the recent rumors circulating is Jenson Button going to Williams next season. While not the jump to a championship contender, Williams would be an upgrade over McLaren-Honda.
However, Williams has recently insisted that they will not wait for Jenson to make a decision. Williams is interested in multiple drivers, not just the 2009 World Champ. Valtteri Bottas (has a 1 year team option), Sergio Perez (if he can get out of his Force India contract) and Felipe Nasr are all believed to be on Williams’ radar. Development driver Lance Stroll is also an option. Stroll has had a very strong F3 season and would be a likely option if Williams decided to go young with its driver selection.
“We will own our driver line-up decision, and I am not sat here waiting for Ron Dennis (McLaren Boss) to make his decision or for Jenson to make his decision. It it is not about what other people are doing. I am not going to be waiting around because that is just not the right mentality for a team like ours to have. It would be a great story, but he has to make the right choice for him, and we have to make the right choice for the team.” Williams told the Press Association.
Multiple options mean if Button wants out at McLaren, he may need Williams more than Williams needs him. However don’t discount Button just yet. Button brings a wealth of experience and has experienced more success than all of the other drivers combined.
“When I talk about the criteria that we are looking at, it is the talent in the cockpit, the intelligence to feed back to the engineers, and for us, as an independent team, the commercial factors are going to play a part in the decision-making process too. You can’t have an unknown driver in your car. It is just not going to work.”
With new bodywork/tire regulations on the horizon it is widely believed that the field will begin to catch up on all-conquering Mercedes next season. While not likely, if Williams gets their aero correct they might be able to compete with the big boys. Adding a proven commodity like Button would increase their chances.
However, before you go on and get lost in the Formula 1 silly-season, slow down. Rumors and hearsay are par for the course this time of year. The question still remains, SHOULD Button remain in F1? It is no secret that F1 drivers make a metric shit ton of money. They don’t so much cash checks as they forklift pallets of cash into their bank accounts. Even the ones not competition for a championship. Passing on that is a huge factor when making a decision. But, Mark Webber did set a precedent a few years ago by leaving for Porsche and the WEC. Last season he (along with his teammates) won the WEC World Championship. Though I don’t have the exact figures, I’m fairly certain his contract is quite lucrative. It may not be F1 money but I think he’s doing ok.
Personally I vote for the WEC. I like Jenson and I want to see him at the front of the field. That isn’t going to happen at McLaren any time soon, nor is it likely to happen at Williams. Any LMP1 team would jump at the chance to add a F1 World Champion still in his prime. Jenson has hinted at the WEC in the past. Whether that was genuine or passing interest, only Time will tell.