Jenson Button staying at McLaren next year would be "a good thing". That is the view of fellow McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso, amid speculation the struggling Woking team might be close to agreeing to keep the 2009 world champion on board for 2016.
Earlier, it was suggested the team's woeful form this year could result in such a drop in prize and sponsorship income that McLaren will have to sign the cheaper Kevin Magnussen instead. But amid McLaren-Honda's well-known problems, former team driver Lewis Hamilton said at Monza that Button should be retained.
"If they had two young guns I don't know if they would progress as much as they would with someone who has so much knowledge of the car and the team, and who helps motivate the team," he said. And it seems Button's teammate Alonso agrees. "Jenson has been quite good all season," the Spaniard, on a lucrative multi-year contract, is quoted by the Mirror newspaper.
"We've been working together very closely to help the team. The experience Jenson has, it has been very important for the upgrades we have brought to the car, in terms of the power unit and aerodynamics. So if Jenson stays I think it's a good thing for the team," Alonso added.
Hinting at the economic benefits of swapping Button for a driver like Magnussen, Alonso continued: "If they decide they need to change something there will be some advantages and some disadvantages for the team, I guess. "The only thing I can say, the only thing I know for sure, is working with Jenson has been very, very productive for the team and for myself, learning a lot of things. Working with the other guys, I cannot tell much," he added.
Alonso also quipped playfully that McLaren should not wait as long as it did last year to confirm the identity of his next teammate, saying "hopefully they'll do it before Christmas". (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing