Jenson Button looks set to keep his place at McLaren-Honda into 2016.
However, it is rumoured that the team’s woeful performance this year could mean the loss of some of the last remaining sponsors, such as Johnnie Walker and Santander.
The whisky brand confirmed to the Telegraph newspaper that “ongoing conversations” with the embattled British team are taking place.
It will combine with the major income hit of finishing near the bottom of this year’s world championship, leaving former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton lamenting the fate of the once-great team.
“It feels very weird when you see this historic team fighting with Marussia (Manor),” he said. “I can’t believe the team has got to this point.”
So with McLaren likely looking to save money, one way to do that would be to dispense with Jenson Button and sign up the cheaper Kevin Magnussen for 2016.
Hamilton thinks that would be a mistake.
“That team needs direction,” he said, “and they are going to need those two drivers (Button and Fernando Alonso) during that period.”
The latest signs, however, are that Button’s place is looking increasingly safe.
Team boss Eric Boullier said that although he wants Magnussen and fellow junior Stoffel Vandoorne to have race seats next year, McLaren is happy with its current drivers.
“We have two world champions today and we do intend to keep them, so far,” said the Frenchman.
22-year-old Dane Magnussen is quoted by Britain’s Mirror newspaper: “It looks like they’re going to stay with the driver lineup as it is.
“I’m not prepared to sit around another year. I’ve decided I need to race next year and if I can’t do that in formula o then I will try and do it somewhere else.” (GMM)