Alonso and Button not taking McLaren exit

SUZUKA • McLaren boss Ron Dennis yesterday confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will stay with the team next season after both drivers had raised doubts about their Formula One futures.

Asked in the Suzuka paddock whether the frustrated former world champions would be staying, he replied: "Yes, what more do you want?"

"Jenson has a two-year contract," he told reporters, adding that it would remain unchanged and Button, who has hinted he could retire at the end of the season, was happy with the arrangement.

"I should have taken away any doubt about our commitment to him earlier than I did," continued Dennis, who said he told the 2009 champion on Thursday.

Button, 35, appeared to suggest after the Singapore Grand Prix eight days ago that he had made up his mind about his future and that he would be leaving the sport.

The U-turn, reported The Telegraph, comes after Dennis agreed to give him the full pay rise due in his current terms - from £8 million (S$17.3 million) a year to £12 million.

As for Alonso, the Spaniard had assured reporters on Saturday he would be at McLaren next year. That, however, did not prevent him from venting all his frustration with the underperforming engine at Honda's home circuit.

In a very public humiliation for Honda and with the car giant's top bosses attending the Japanese Grand Prix, Alonso said over the team radio: "I'm being passed down the straights like a GP2 (car). This is embarrassing, very embarrassing."

Later, after being passed by Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso, the double champion made another reference to F1's less powerful feeder series: "GP2 engine, GP2."

Still, he laboured to 11th place - an impressive result in the circumstances. Dennis, whose once-dominant team are ninth out of 10 in the standings and enduring their worst season with just 17 points, said he understood the Spaniard's frustration but could not condone the outburst. "It does not show the professionalism that I would like all of our drivers to show," he said.

"Am I going to go ballistic?

"No. I will handle it in my own way and my way is not in public."

Button, who finished 16th, had described trying to fend off other cars during the race as being like a "samurai without his shield or sword". REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Alonso and Button not taking McLaren exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe