SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Jenson Button has indicated he might not stay at McLaren even if the Formula One team offered him a contract extension for next season.
With speculation swirling about his future, and reports already suggesting the 2009 world champion is set to retire, Button said no decision had been made but he had plenty of options.
He added that it made little difference whether the decision came before the end of the season or not, and was clear that he did not want to stay in Formula One if there was no chance to win races.
The 34-year-old has said previously that he wanted to stay at McLaren, who have been closely linked to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and are starting a new partnership with Honda, if the chance was there.
But he appeared to signal a shift on Thursday when talking to reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Asked whether he would stay if McLaren asked him to, after all the uncertainty, the Briton said: ”That is a good question that I cannot answer at this moment in time.
”When you are put in a position that many drivers have been in over the years, not sure if your contract is going to be renewed, it opens your eyes to different challenges and different possibilities.
“Whether it’s racing, whether it’s doing another sport, or something different altogether, for me I am excited about the challenges ahead. I have a lot that I am excited about, a lot of different ideas, whether it is for next year or the year after.”
Button, who won his 2009 title at Interlagos, is the most experienced driver on the grid and has won 16 races since his debut in 2000 with Williams.
Whatever happened, he said he was not about to retire or disappear from motor sport.
“This is a massive part of my life, Formula One, and motor racing has been –- and it is not going to stop. It will continue,” he said.
“I don’t know where that is going to be right now. But I never feel like I am being pushed out of the sport because I am definitely going to be in the sport in some shape or form. And it’s going to be a massive challenge and it’s very exciting.”
Button said he would relish the task of being Alonso’s team mate, just as he had when up against Lewis Hamilton at McLaren from 2010 to 2012.
McLaren have not won a race since the last battle of their partnership of champions, with Button triumphant in Brazil at the end of 2012. Alonso was second in that race.
“That’s what I miss more than anything else right now, that fighting for the win, that is probably the most difficult thing at this moment in time, that we cannot challenge for wins,” said Button.
”If I am in Formula One next year I have got to be winning. That’s what I am here to do and the last two years have not been like that.
“The first three years with McLaren were amazing, challenging for wins. We didn’t quite win the championship but it was a mega challenge. The last two years have been tough, next year if I am in Formula One I want to be winning races.”
Button said age was not a factor, he was as fit as he has ever been and still loved racing.
“I am still a racing driver who has won a world championship and wants to go and achieve a lot more in motor sport,” he said.
“So I’ll probably have a couple of drinks if it (Abu Dhabi) is my last race in Formula One, with friends and family, but I don’t feel I have to have a big thing made of my career because my career’s not over, whichever way it goes.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez