The reason Jenson Button’s 2012 McLaren contract has not yet been announced is “simple”, according to a veteran correspondent.
At Monza recently, the paddock openly wondered why October is nearing without the British team having announced already that it is taking up the option on the highly-regarded driver’s existing deal.
Asked by the BBC if the delay over 2012 is because Button, 31, is pushing for fewer corporate appearance days, team boss Martin Whitmarsh answered: “It’s not all about that.”
Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio, writing in the Jornal da Tarde daily on Monday, said Button simply wants McLaren to confirm him for 2012 so that he is available on the market for the season after.
“The answer is simple: Button is interested in Ferrari. And Ferrari is interested in him,” wrote Oricchio.
Indeed, during the course of 2012, Ferrari will consider whether to extend Felipe Massa’s contract or seek a new teammate for clear number one Fernando Alonso.
“Button has the right profile of a Ferrari driver,” Oricchio explained. “Fast, capable of living with Fernando Alonso and regularly among the fastest ones. He also has Alonso’s backing.”
That would explain McLaren’s eagerness to tie up Button beyond 2012, even though the 31-year-old insists he would be happy to retire having never raced a Ferrari.
“When I was growing up I was excited about the three big teams; Williams, McLaren and Ferrari,” said Button.
“It doesn’t mean you need to drive for Ferrari to fulfil your childhood dreams because as you grow up things change. I’m happy and if I can win a championship here I’d be even happier.”
Said Whitmarsh: “We’re just talking about it. I think the right thing is that we discuss it quietly.
“I’m sure we’re going to find a way to work together for many years to come, that’s certainly my wish and I hope it’s Jenson’s.”