Jenson Button confesses that he gave retirement from Formula One some serious thought before being confirmed at McLaren-Honda for 2016.
The Briton had already had to wait until December 2014 to find out whether he or former team-mate Kevin Magnussen would partner the returning Fernando Alonso at Woking this year. The two world champions eventually endured a torrid campaign, as Honda’s recurrent engine woes stymied their progress.
While Alonso’s three-year contract was well documented, Button’s future was more uncertain and quickly turned into a much talked about topic over the summer.
Multiple reports in the British press said the 35-year-old would announce his retirement ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, only for McLaren to take up Button’s one-year option less than two weeks later.
“Last year I wasn't sure if I'd be racing and it wasn't my choice,” Button told Sky Sports F1.
“This year it was totally my choice and there was a moment where I thought 'I am not sure I want to do this anymore and be where we are'.
“Obviously, if we are where we are right now next year, it is not going to be that enjoyable.”
In the wake of a dismal season where Button’s best result was sixth in a chaotic US Grand Prix, the 2009 world champion says he was convinced to stay by what McLaren has in the pipeline for next year.
“I spent a lot of time with the engineers and the aerodynamicists and I spoke more with [McLaren Group CEO] Ron [Dennis] in the two months when I was trying to decide what to do next year than I have in my whole time at McLaren.
“So a really good relationship there and we went through a lot of ideas for next year and spoke to the aerodynamicists and the engineers and got a real direction and understanding of where we are going and with Honda as well.
“So that got me excited, that got me pumped for next year knowing that there are big improvements on the horizon, and we need them.”
A veteran of 284 starts, Button began competing at the top echelon with Williams in 2000. Since then, he has secured eight pole positions, clinched 50 podiums, and claimed 15 grand prix wins. Button last tasted victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, which happens to be McLaren's most recent success as well.
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