McLaren has raced into calmer waters in the wake of the team’s tumultuous weekend in Japan.
At Suzuka, the Honda-powered team was in obvious turmoil, as frustrated drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso hinted they were on the verge of quitting.
Spaniard Alonso, however, moved to repair the damage of his radio outbursts, while Button no longer appears at war with boss Ron Dennis’ claim that the 2009 world champion is staying put next year. “As Ron stated at the last race, I have a contract with McLaren-Honda for next year, so I’ll be racing for McLaren-Honda,” the Briton told Downforce Radio.
While the waters are calmer, however, that does not mean everyone believes Button will actually still be driving a dark grey car in 2016. “I think Ron Dennis’ comments (at Suzuka) were to calm the situation,” Finnish pundit Oskari Saari told the broadcaster MTV. “But I believe that the outcome will be that Button leaves because he has other good options. I think it is also important (for McLaren) to find a good seat for Stoffel Vandoorne, as he is no longer young and the other teams will certainly be interested,” he added.
Another piece of positive news out of the McLaren camp this week is the announcement of the sponsor deal promised by supremo Dennis at Suzuka. The deal is with Chandon, the prestigious sparkling wine brand, involving significant branding on the monocoque sides and drivers’ overalls.
And as it was revealed, Dennis sounded upbeat about the improvements that struggling Honda should be able to make over the winter. “It’s over five months to the first grand prix (of next season) and five months is a lifetime in formula one,” he told the Associated Press. “Everything has been multiplied to make sure we are strong at the beginning of next season,” Dennis added.