Jenson Button has hinted that a decision has now been reached over his future as widespread media reports continue to claim he is set to walk away from Formula One. The former world champion has endured a miserable 2015 season so far and will see his current contract with the underperforming McLaren-Honda team expire at the end of the campaign.
McLaren-Honda, currently languishing ninth in the constructors' championship after another difficult weekend in Singapore that saw a fourth double-retirement from Button and teammate Fernando Alonso, have the option to retain the hugely experienced driver for another year. Principal Eric Boullier has previously stated his desire to retain the services of the pair, although the Briton's next move has been subject to increased speculation over recent months.
McLaren-Honda, a partnership that was officially revived in 2014, has struggled badly for reliability since the opening weekend in Melbourne amid frustrating engine issues. Button's best performance of the year to date came with an eighth-place finish in Monaco, while he has failed to finish in five of the 13 races so far and did not even get to the start line in Bahrain due to a problem with the car's energy recovery system.
15th place on the grid in Singapore gave way to an encouraging race performance that was sadly scuppered by a collision with the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and an overheated gearbox that forced him to head back to the garage on lap 53. A lack of competitiveness seems to be draining Button, who has won 15 of the 281 races in his 15-year career so far and beat Sebastian Vettel to win his solitary world title with Brawn GP in 2009.
"The joy of being in the car is only there if you are fighting at the front and you feel as though you are achieving something," he told reporters at Marina Bay, as reported by Autosport.com. "If you're fighting near the back, you're driving an F1 car, but you can easily get joy driving something else. It's about fighting at the front. It's about the possibility of standing on top of the podium. That's the joy of Formula 1."
Although Button has yet to confirm his plans, several publications have speculated that he will not return to the paddock next season. The Telegraph, among others, believe that an official announcement over his impending retirement could come at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka this weekend.
"I have made that decision, that's the important thing," he continued. "It is always nice to make an announcement when you are at your home grand prix, but I don't know what's happening yet. There are a lot of meetings in Japan, Ron Dennis and Eric Boullier will be there. I'm sure there will be a lot of meetings at the headquarters."