McLAREN ACE TO STAY? McLaren will today announce its drivers for 2015 with all indications suggesting current veteran Jenson Button (above) will partner ex-Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. Image: AFP
LONDON, England - McLaren is ready to announce the return of Fernando Alonso while British news media reports the Formula 1 team will retain Jenson Button.
The team, in a new partnership with Honda though yet to announce a title sponsor, has invited reporters to its headquarters in Woking, England, today (Dec 11 2014) for "an important and exclusive media event".
No details have slipped out but the move is widely interpreted as evidence that the drivers' names are about to be announced after weeks of wrangling and apparent indecision.
BUTTON TO STAY?
A board meeting was held on Wednesday (Dec 10 2014) evening.
Button's future has been the big question for months, with the veteran out-of-contract and McLaren the only team yet to name its drivers.
One is sure to be Alonso, already replaced at Ferrari by Sebastian Vettel. Alonso's return has yet to be confirmed officially by McLaren despite being an open secret.
Spanish news media, which in November 2014 quoted the King of Spain as saying Alonso had told him he was joining McLaren, had no doubt the announcement was imminent.
Alonso spent one turbulent season at McLaren in 2007 before leaving after a breakdown in relations with then team principal Ron Dennis, now overall group head.
BITTER BLOW FOR MAGNUSSEN
Alonso' team mate has appeared to be a choice between Button, the sport's most experienced current driver, and rookie Kevin Magnussen, who formed the 2014 McLaren pairing.
London's Daily Mail, citing "an impeccably-placed source" within McLaren, said Button had been offered a new contract. If confirmed it will be a bitter blow for Magnussen, whose future remains unclear despite having youth and promise on his side.
Ron Dennis said in November 2014 that the choice would be made "on a clinical and emotionless analysis of options" but there has been plenty of emotion from fans of both drivers, with Button sparking a lively reaction when he addressed the subject at the 2014 Autosport Awards in London on Dec 7.
"Do any of you think I should be racing in F1 next year?" Button asked the audience, to raucous cheers of support, before adding it was a "strange situation" to be in.
He said: "I've a new Japanese (mobile) number so that might be why I haven't heard anything."