Jenson Button told he has a job for life at McLaren amid link-up with Honda

The Japanese engine supplier will re-kindle an iconic partnership

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button has been told he has a job for life as McLaren build towards the start of a new era with Honda.

McLaren yesterday rekindled their iconic partnership with Honda, with the Japanese car manufacturing giant confirmed as their new engine supplier from 2015.

Button will be 35 by the time the deal commences but, providing he still has the hunger and desire to succeed, McLaren see no reason to part company.

Managing director Jonathan Neale said: "Who knows who will be in the car in 2015. I've been laughing with Jenson about it.

"But Jenson will drive here as long as he wants to. He's a great guy who is doing a really good job in difficult times at the moment.

"He fits our values and our culture really well. It's a question of hoping he will still be here in 2015.

"But right now he is excited by the prospect of Honda as well."

Button worked with Honda for six seasons between 2003 and 2008, initially when they were an engine supplier to BAR and then when the company formed their own works team in 2006.

The global credit crisis at the end of 2008 forced Honda into a speedy exit, but with F1 engines becoming greener from next year - when turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s replace the current breed of 2.4-litre V8s - Honda feel this affords them the ideal platform to return.

Button also serves as an ideal PR model for Honda given he enjoys a high profile in Japan, and the Briton said of their return: "I know exactly how passionate they are about motor sport, and Formula One in particular.

"I grew up watching McLaren-Honda Formula One cars racing and winning around the world - they wrote their own glorious chapter of Formula One history.

"Even now, picturing those unmistakable red-and-white cars evokes vivid memories of some of the most dramatic and exciting motor racing the world has ever seen.

"McLaren-Honda: I know how much passion, success and pride are encapsulated within just those two words.

"That's why I'm so thrilled and excited about what's not only a fantastic opportunity for the team, but also a great development for Formula One fans and the sport as a whole."

The powerhouse combination of McLaren and Honda won 44 grands prix and eight world titles between 1988 and 1992.

Attempting to rekindle such dominance will be difficult, and McLaren will have to be patient as the current trio of engine manufacturers in Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault will all have a year's advantage on Honda before they enter.

With McLaren's current engine supplier Mercedes now focusing so much of their energies on their own works team, Neale believes joining forces with Honda will keep his team at the sharp end.

"Mercedes have clearly focused their efforts around Brackley (their F1 base) and that's completely understandable," said Neale.

"If we are going to compete at the upper echelons then we need to be punching at that weight.

"Getting together with a powerhouse like Honda enables us to punch at that weight."