Button buoyed by new McLaren deal

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Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Jenson Button feared his Formula One career was over right up until Monday night when McLaren chief Ron Dennis offered him a new deal.

The 34-year-old will partner two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren next year after the Spaniard ended his seven-year feud with Dennis.

Button admitted he won a reprieve after a last-minute change of heart from McLaren bosses, who had initially favoured Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen.

The relieved 2009 world champion said he immediately accepted Dennis’ two-year contract offer, having convinced the McLaren chief executive he can still summon the will to win for his 16th season.

“Of course I feared I could be without a drive,” said Button. ” It opened my eyes to life outside Formula One.

“I signed the contract on Wednesday night. But when I saw the contract on Monday, for the first time, before we’d even discussed anything, it was ‘yes’. I just went with it.”

Dennis spent weeks keeping Button on edge before confirming his decision at McLaren’s Woking headquarters on Thursday.

Button joked “I can’t remember” when quizzed on how he celebrated his new deal, before admitting flirting with the end of his career has reignited his passion for the sport.

Button revealed his late father John had always harboured great hopes he would one day partner Alonso, and now expects to form a partnership forged in respect with the former Ferrari man.

Alonso quit McLaren in 2007 after an ugly fallout with Dennis, amid claims of favouritism towards rising star Lewis Hamilton.

The Oviedo-born driver was also implicated in the spygate row where McLaren were found in possession of Ferrari documents.

Button could not hide his delight Dennis and Alonso had finally buried the hatchet.

“As much as winning the world championship, my dad always wanted me and Fernando to race in a team together,” said Button.

“He had massive respect for Fernando, which is awesome. We spent quite a bit of time together growing up in the early years of Formula One, and there’s a lot of respect there.

“I spoke to my sister Samantha and she texted me back afterwards and said ‘I’ve got goose bumps, it’s like your first year in Formula One, it’s like when you drove for Williams all over again’.

“I said: ‘Totally, but with 15 years’ experience’, and that’s the great thing, that excitement, that determination of a 20-year-old, but with the experience.

“I’m in a very privileged position.”

Alonso admitted he would never have expected to return to McLaren when he quit in such fury in 2007.

“No, probably not,” he said when asked if he would have predicted a reconciliation with Dennis seven years ago.

“When you go from a place, you think you will not come back.

“I never thought I would even win a grand prix, coming from a little town in Spain.

“I’ve been so proud of all the things in my career, so many nice surprises: but I just had that one thing, inside, that I was not happy with.

“I was not proud of 2007. Coming back now, I think I will remove that.

“Hopefully I can complete my driver’s career without any dark points.”

The 33-year-old revealed discussions started with McLaren and Dennis 14 months ago, admitting both parties had to shoulder blame for the 2007 dispute.

“I think both,” said Alonso when asked who made the first move towards reconciliation.

“Let’s say that Ron was calling more often, because they were on the side of trying to make this deal happen.

“But I had this wish also, from the inside, from removing the only thing I’m not proud of in my career.”

Published: Friday 12th December 2014 by The News Editor

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