LONDON (Reuters) – Jenson Button will race for McLaren again next season, the Formula One team confirmed on Thursday with a statement that ended speculation the 2009 world champion was heading for retirement.
Button said he was confident the Honda-powered team would overcome its “current difficulties” to achieve great successes in the future.
“That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, (team chief Ron Dennis) and I have decided to continue our partnership,” he said after the team confirmed he would see out a contract that expires at the end of 2016.
“Okay, granted, this year has not been an easy one for us, but we know what we need to do to improve things,” said the 35-year-old.
The second most successful team in Formula One, after Ferrari, are ninth out of 10 teams in their worst season.
Button, the last McLaren to driver to win a race back in 2012, has scored just six points in 14 races this year and suffered repeated penalties and retirements.
Speculation that the most experienced driver on the starting grid, who won his title with Brawn GP, was planning to call it a day has swirled around for months.
Although Dennis assured reporters at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix that Button would be staying alongside double world champion Fernando Alonso, there were still doubters with the driver also seemingly unsure.
“Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future,” said Button.
He said he knew staying was the right decision as soon as he had made it.
“Jenson and I have been discussing his plans in private for the past few weeks, and the fact that our talks have led to today’s announcement is very pleasing to both of us,” said Dennis in the statement.
He explained that McLaren had a termination clause in Button’s contract that could have been triggered by the team this year.
“Once it became clear from my many conversations with Jenson that he remained as enthusiastic and as committed and as focused as ever, that option immediately became an irrelevance,” continued the boss.
“That being the case, Jenson will race for McLaren-Honda next year, under the terms and conditions as set out in the two-year contract that both parties entered into a year ago.”
Button’s continuation means he will join Michael Schumacher and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello as the only drivers to start 300 grands prix.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)