Jenson Button could retire as frustration grows at struggling McLaren

Announcement could be made at Japanese Grand Prix

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The Independent Online

In between a frustrating race in Singapore and looking forward to racing in front of his huge fan base in Japan this weekend, Jenson Button remained coy over speculation surrounding his future.

The 35-year-old was chosen late in the day as Fernando Alonso’s partner for 2015 in the new McLaren team – over team-mate Kevin Magnussen – and is believed to be the leading contender for 2016 as well. But retirement is also a distinct possibility as frustrations grow with the slow-developing, Honda-powered McLaren.

Button gave little away, but said: “Racing right now is mentally very tough. You get out of the car and you’re pretty pissed off, but half an hour later you’re over it and already looking forward to the next one.

“The joy of being in the car is only there if you’re fighting at the front and feel you’re achieving something and have the possibility of standing on the podium.”

When asked whether there might be a decision in Suzuka, he replied: “It’s always nice to make announcements, but I don’t know what’s happening.” And he also joked about Mark Webber’s suggestion that a driver always knows in his head when the time is right to stop. “There are things going on in my head, but I don’t have any confusion,” Button added. “Only my head knows, my mouth doesn’t know! But that’s the important thing. I’ll just say it’ll be nice racing in Japan, which is a ‘home’ crowd.”

There was little for either Button or Alonso on Sunday in Singapore as both retired with gearbox trouble when in good positions to score points. And Button’s race had already been spoilt by a delay in his first pit stop and, later, by a clash with Pastor Maldonado, whom Lotus confirmed would stay with them for 2016.

After branding Maldonado “mental” over his radio, Button expanded: “He just gave me no room whatsoever. I braked as hard as I could and, obviously, we made contact. Then on the exit he went off the track and came back on. “I guess he came through the apex to try and slow the car down so I couldn’t go through on the inside. But he just didn’t accelerate, so I ran into the back of him.

“I exited the corner expecting him to accelerate but he didn’t. He didn’t move and we were all queued up. It was very strange. I don’t know what was going on. Even the Manor I’d just overtaken was right up my backside, because he was going so slow. I don’t know what he expected me to do.”

The wayward Venezuelan was not the only miscreant on the  track, however. For the third time in his career, Button encountered an interloping spectator, the previous one having been at Silverstone in 2003 when publicity-seeking former priest Neil Horan appeared on the Hangar Straight in front of his BAR-Honda.

“It’s a concern for everyone who is in an F1 car,” the Briton said. “F1 circuits are a very safe environment, we’ve done so well making cars stronger and circuits safer, but when it’s a human being involved on track – obviously, you’re a bit of a nutcase to walk on to an F1 circuit, you wouldn’t walk on to a motorway – you can’t control it. You can only make barriers a certain height, and you have to trust the human race to be sensible.”