McLaren will be getting a new engine for 2015 when Honda re-enters Formula 1 as a supplier but will they be getting a new driver? That remains to be seen but some argue this could be Jenson Button’s last season with the Woking-based team.
Regardless of the rumors, team boss Eric Boullier says that all cards are on the table and McLaren owner Ron Denis even suggested they’d look at a return from Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso. Boullier, however, remains a little more cautious telling AUTOSPORT:
“If any driver becomes available on the market, we will be interested to see if they fit,” Boullier said.
“Our strategy, and I am not going to say we are going to change drivers, is we are in a position to wait.
“So we are going to wait until I understand what is going to be the driver market, not only for next year but also in the future years.
“The plan is to build McLaren for a long term at the top, and we need to know what we are going to do in three, four or five years.”
That doesn’t sound like a long-term plan with Jenson Button to be honest but then it doesn’t sound like a deal that many drivers would sign to be honest. A five year deal is an eternity in Formula 1 and while drivers like a 2-3 year commitment with options, a 5-year deal would most likely have serious caveats and exits clauses embedded.
Building a long-term driver program around a new engine and chassis design for the life of these new regulations is a noble cause but Button may not be a part of that equation. Another question might be centered on the thought of Kevin Magnussen staying that long as well.
If they could get Hamilton or Alonso, that time frame would work given their ages. In Alonso’s case it would be a retirement contract that would see out the remainder of his career and Hamilton would be returning to the team that gave him his big break.
Is there a better long-term driver combination you can think of for McLaren’s aspirations? Would Vettel, Hulkenberg, Bottas or even Ricciardo be a good fit?