Jenson Button hits back at Eddie Irvine criticism

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Jenson Button has hit back at Eddie Irvine after the former Ferrari driver this week criticised the McLaren star as "the best number two" in Formula One.

Irvine, who was famously in Michael Schumacher's shadow at Ferrari for four years from 1996 to 1999, is renowned for his outspoken views.

The 45-year-old further claimed in Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport magazine that "Jenson is doing nothing special. He just does a reasonable job".

Irvine added: "He knows he will never again be world champion and he drives accordingly."

Irvine's comments fly in the face of what many observers believe is one of Button's best seasons, as he is on course to become the first driver to beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton over the course of a campaign.

Even Schumacher last week described Button as "a phenomenal talent" following the Briton's pass on the seven-time world champion at the Italian Grand Prix.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Button said with a degree of sarcasm: "Why is Eddie still taking about Formula One? Is he missing it?

"It's very sweet, though. All I can say is that it was fun winning the world championship, and I hope to do it again."

At which team he will bid to achieve that goal remains open to speculation, however, with rumours of a move to Ferrari in 2013 refusing to go away.

McLaren have an option on Button for next season, and although team boss Martin Whitmarsh stated at Monza the 31-year-old will remain, the contract has yet to be signed.

The belief is McLaren want Button to put pen to paper now on a new long-term deal.

But with seats open at Ferrari and Red Bull in two years' time - as Felipe Massa and Mark Webber will have reached the end of the road - Button is understood to be keeping his options open.

"I actually don't mind being asked about it (the link with Ferrari) because I find it quite fun," added Button.

"Hopefully my future will be sorted out as soon as possible. I hope it is anyway because I don't want to be talking about it for too long and I don't want to leave people hanging.

"So hopefully it will be sorted sooner rather than later - but I do like being in demand!"

Asked whether the uncertainty over his future was frustrating, he replied: "It's not too bad. It just takes a little bit of time."