ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Former champion Jenson Button’s future in Formula One remains uncertain, and his fifth-place finish at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could yet prove the final race of a distinguished career.
Button faces an anxious wait before McLaren announces its driver lineup for 2015 early next month, with two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso widely touted to replace him after leaving Ferrari.
Button certainly seemed to be bidding goodbye — to McLaren at least — when he spoke after the race.
“I’d like to thank everyone within the team. It’s been a real pleasure working with the guys for five years,” Button said. “I feel that I’m at the top of my game. I’ve proved that this year and I can’t do anything else.”
That sounded like a parting shot at McLaren, perhaps because — after 268 GPs, 15 wins and 50 podiums — Button feels he should not have to prove himself.
“It’s been quite difficult for me this year so the support (from fans) has been unbelievable, overwhelming,” Button said. “One race shouldn’t change my career in terms of what people think of me and also how far it extends my career in Formula One.”
The 34-year-old British driver won the title with Brawn in 2009 and finished runner-up to Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
Alonso is being tipped to drive alongside 22-year-old Danish driver Kevin Magnussen at McLaren, even though Button outscored Magnussen in points 126-55 this season, with both drivers getting one podium place each. Button finished the season eighth overall, three places ahead of Magnussen.
“I did all I could do today. Fifth was as good as it was going to be,” Button said. “Getting the maximum from the car is all that can be asked of a racing driver, and I think I’ve proved this year that I’m still at the top of my game.”
Magnussen finished the Abu Dhabi GP out of the points in 11th spot.
Button has left his options open, saying this week that uncertainty over his McLaren future opened his eyes to other possibilities.
Among those options could be to join former F1 driver Mark Webber on the World Endurance Championship or trying his hand at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“I’m sure tonight will be fun,” Button said. “I’ll celebrate a good end to the year with my family.”
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.