With the return of Honda power on the horizon, McLaren are beginning to look ahead to the 2015 Formula One season in terms of driver line-up as the sport prepares to return home to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. With Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen so far being unable to replicate the successes of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have been rumoured as potential candidates to rejoin the outfit.
Since Lewis Hamilton’s departure to Mercedes for the 2013 season, McLaren have endured a highly uncompetitive spell in the sport, with the Woking-based outfit so far yet to return to their winning ways since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. With the promotion of Kevin Magnussen within the team to replace Sergio Perez ahead of the 2014 season and a relatively promising winter period, hopes were high within the McLaren camp of a return to success in their final year with Mercedes power before the return of Honda.
However, after the double-podium finish in the season-opener at Australia McLaren seem to have reverted to their frustratingly uncompetitive form of the previous season, with so far neither Button or Magnussen returning to the podium. Although Ron Dennis has recently reiterated that he will not simply give up on the 2014 season and instead switch his focus on Honda’s return for next season, the rumours pertaining to McLaren’s driver line-up for the 2015 season and beyond has understandably entered the limelight.
For several months the future of Button’s career has been strongly debated within the paddock, with some expecting the 2009 World Champion to hang up his helmet at the end of the season and retire from the sport. Admittedly such an outcome would leave a wide open door for the likes of Fernando Alonso to make a return to McLaren, however one of the most intriguing rumours within the paddock is McLaren’s “tentative” approach to Lewis Hamilton in a bid to secure his services for the outfit in what would undoubtedly be one of the most unbelievable U-turns in the history of the sport. Although such an outcome seems incredibly unlikely, should the inter-team battle between the Briton and Nico Rosberg deteriorate further at Mercedes, then Hamilton could well eye a return to the Woking-based outfit.
“Telegraph Sport understands the team [McLaren] have also opened very tentative dialogue with Lewis Hamilton, in case the psychological scars of this year’s title fight at Mercedes become too great. The only circumstances in which Hamilton would leave Mercedes are if he lost out to Nico Rosberg for the Drivers’ Championship,” wrote The Daily Telegraphs’ Daniel Johnson.
With Hamilton now 29 points behind team-mate Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship heading into the British Grand Prix weekend, a gap which will see the German lead the Championship heading to Germany regardless of the outcome around Silverstone, Hamilton is certainly facing an uphill challenge to overthrow is team-mate. Should Rosberg romp to his maiden Championship crown, then Hamilton could well weigh up his options in what is undoubtedly his best opportunity to return to the top of the sport since his successes in 2008 with McLaren. However, Jenson Button is still not giving up on his Formula One career with McLaren, with the Briton explaining to The Daily Telegraph that the driver line-up for 2015 is not even on the agenda as they strive to make the car quicker after several lacklustre races.
“Not as far as I know,” explained Button, when asked whether he could be competing in his last British Grand Prix this season. “I don’t know why wouldn’t they [take me for next year]. I think it’s just the way it is for a big team. We will leave it to the last moment to make a decision or to talk about contracts. It’s not necessary to talk about contracts right now because they’ve got other things to focus on, like making the car quicker.”
Despite Button’s assurance that he will remain of the grid after the current season, it seems Formula One’s annual “silly season” has already begun with the limelight placed firmly on McLaren with the return of Honda power imminent for 2015. With the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel all allegedly on the team’s radar for the new season, it’s entirely feasible that it could be all change at McLaren. However, there is no guarantee that Honda’s 2015 engine will yield immediate competitiveness when they return, especially after their last endeavour in the sport with their own outfit in 2008.
Picture(s) Copyright © Octane Photographic