Britain’s Jenson Button says his sense of joy has disappeared from Formula One amid rumours the former world champion is set to retire from the sport.
Refusing to be drawn on the speculation that he had failed to secure a contract extension with underperforming McLaren, Button told reporters on Thursday in Japan: “I don’t like finishing 14th, I don’t like finishing 10th. That’s not what excites me.”
The 35-year-old 2009 World Champion has endured a hugely frustrating season because of his car’s unreliable Honda engine, and was forced to retire in Singapore last weekend.
“I don’t think any driver has joy when they’re not fighting for victories,” said Button before this week’s race in Suzuka. “That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we love – the challenge of fighting at the front.
“There are so many possibilities of what could happen next year, so may possibilities,” he added. “But I can’t give you anything else really since the last race. There’s no more information to give you so you’re going to have to wait a little longer, I’m sorry to say.”
With McLaren in crisis, talks with team boss Ron Dennis have not progressed as hoped, raising the possibility Button could bring the curtain down on a 16-year career which has brought him a world title, with Brawn, and 15 victories in 278 races.
But Button, who debuted for the Williams team in 2000, insists McLaren’s issues could still be resolved, despite no clear sign that next year’s model would offer him and Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso any improvement.
“We are in good talks, the team and myself and that’s it,” he shrugged. “If you see a future then there’s the possibility of joy coming back and that’s exciting. But after the Singapore Grand Prix I wasn’t joyful, no.”