I do not get the impression that Jenson Button has any desire to retire from Formula 1, but I do think that the 2009 World Champion wants to be paid properly to continue the development of the McLaren-Honda package in 2016. This is only natural, but the question that needs to be answered is what F1 drivers should now be paid in a world where their value is coming down. Sebastian Vettel may be being paid $50 million this year, and Fernando Alonso may be on a long-term deal at $40 million a year, but other salaries in F1 are tumbling because there is simply not the money available. The sport is suffering from high costs and reducing sponsorship, which are being caused by a ridiculous arms race between the big teams, coupled with a reduction in the number of people able to watch the sport on free-to-air TV. There is more money coming in to the rights holder, but most of this is promised to banks that have previously made loans – or to the big teams that have cut deals with the Formula One group, not really caring whether this hurts smaller teams.
I think that the current kerfuffle about Jenson retiring is all to do with money and that ultimately no-one (least of all Jenson) wants Jenson to go. Button is valuable to the team, because the sponsors love him, but the team has a glut of talent with Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne both waiting in the wings to get their chance in F1. Magnussen did a very decent job for the team last year and it looks like he will end up with nothing – which is wrong – but Kevin has been unfortunate to be in the wrong place. He deserves better, but as there is no second team using Honda engines, there is currently nowhere for him to go.
I don’t believe that the question has yet been settled but it would be a shame if Button were to depart the sport when he is not keen to do so.