AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Jenson Button is a wanted man, even if McLaren ultimately decide they do not want to retain the 2009 Formula One world champion for next season.
“I‘m getting phone calls from everyone because he is an exceptional driver, he’s still in his prime, everyone wants to hire him. He is a wanted individual,” the Briton’s manager Richard Goddard said on Thursday.
”I’ve had loads of different approaches, as I would and you have to expect that I would, from loads of different sports -- driving sports obviously, his tennis isn’t up to much.
“But we haven’t got any serious conversations, talking about different levels of where we are, where we are going to be ... obviously we’d like to stay in F1, and to stay driving for McLaren, but maybe there will come a point when we get offered something and it’s a great opportunity, a great place to be.”
Button’s future is the subject of much speculation, with McLaren strongly linked to Ferrari’s double world champion Fernando Alonso.
McLaren are switching to Honda engines next season and Alonso is seen as the number one target to lead the new partnership on the track despite falling out with McLaren boss Ron Dennis when he last drove for the team in 2007.
In the latest of many such stories, Spanish daily Marca reported on Thursday that a contract with McLaren was missing only the Spaniard’s signature.
Goddard said the team had told him they were in a “holding pattern” and no decision had been made about their 2015 lineup with the future of Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen equally up in the air.
”We haven’t been told anything apart from they don’t know anything,“ he said at the U.S. Grand Prix. ”I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s not like they’ve made their mind up as to one path or another.
“I‘m in regular contact with Ron and there is nothing new. He speaks to me and he says ‘I‘m really sorry, but we’re still in a holding pattern. I know perhaps we shouldn’t be, but we are’. That is where we are.”
There has been speculation that Button could be headed out of Formula One and into sports car racing, something the Briton did not rule out when asked on Thursday.
“Anything is possible in life if you have the right circumstances or the right situation, but that has to be there to make it happen,” he said.
Button said he had felt “under massive pressure” before the Japanese Grand Prix but since Russia earlier this month he had just focused on enjoying his driving and was far happier. “What happens next year happens,” he added.
The Briton has been at McLaren since 2010, the year after he won his championship with Brawn. Eight of his 15 race wins have been with the team, the last coming in Brazil two years ago.
“He is very loyal to this team, loves this team and would like to stay at this team. It’s as simple as that from the F1 perspective,” said Goddard, who recognized the driver’s options in Formula One might be limited of his own volition.
“Obviously he is not going to drive at a much, much lower level because he wants to win races and championships. He is not interested to make up the numbers, he just wants to win again,” he explained.
“So if he is not going to get to win in this championship and he gets offered a fantastic deal somewhere else, then perhaps he’ll go somewhere else.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Frank Pingue