• Kyodo


Jenson Button refused to comment on Thursday about his future in Formula One amid reports he would retire at the end of 2015, as preparations continue for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit.

Button, the 2009 world drivers champion, spoke about his disillusionment with the performance of his McLaren Honda after the recent Singapore Grand Prix, where both he and teammate Fernando Alonso failed to finish due to mechanical problems.

After hinting he would make an announcement in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, Button was tight-lipped about his future at a Thursday press conference.

“Since the last race there’s no more information to give you,” he said. “You’re going to have to wait for a little while … but we’re in good talks, the team and myself.”

A 15-time race winner in Formula One, Button has had a season where a lack of power and reliability from his McLaren has seen him make critical comments about the performance of the car’s Honda powerplant. He has failed to complete six races and only had the pace to achieve a top-10 finish once, a ninth in Hungary.

“I don’t like finishing 14th. I don’t like finishing 10th,” he said on Thursday. “That’s not what gives me joy, that’s not what excites me — but there are so many other things that, if they work in your favor, or if you see a future, there’s the possibility of joy coming back.”

“That’s exciting. That’s a challenge. After the Singapore Grand Prix, I wasn’t joyful.”

Four-time world drivers champion Sebastian Vettel said if Button decides to retire it would be “a big loss” to the sport.

“He’s a big character,” said Vettel. “We know that he’s quick, he deserves to be a champion and I’m sure that if there were more years when he had the package to win the big one, he would have had a big say in that.

“The quality (of his driving) is out of doubt. On top of that he’s a very fair guy on the track. Outside the track, I think we all like him for many reasons so it would be a big loss.”

Button will be hoping for a change in fortunes on Sunday, given it is the first race for Honda in Japan since returning to Formula One after a long hiatus from the sport.

“It’s a big weekend for us. McLaren Honda, in front of Honda’s home crowd at their circuit, we hope that we can have a good weekend,” Button said.

“Obviously the weather mixes it up a little bit, which I think is what we need to be properly competitive. We’re focusing on this weekend and hoping for a reasonable result.”

The drivers will take to the Suzuka track for their first practice session on Friday morning. Vettel, a four-time winner in Suzuka, is excited to be back.

“I think we all love the track,” said Vettel. “It’s one of the old school circuits on the calendar. It’s a lot of fun.

“If you want to know what a Formula One car can do, then the first sector (of the Suzuka track) I would say sums it up.

“In my point of view (it is) the best track in the world and it’s great fun to be here.”

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