Jenson Button is set to announce he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season, according to reports in the British press.
The Daily Mail claimed on Monday that the 35-year-old had made the decision to leave the sport, following extensive talks with McLaren chairman Ron Dennis about his future during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.
The newspaper claimed that Button, who won the drivers’ world championship in 2009, could even announce his decision at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Speaking prior to last weekend’s race in Singapore, Button had said he was encouraged by the progress of talks with McLaren over staying with the team for the 2016 season – sounding hopeful that a deal could be agreed.
The Englishman admitted that he had no interest in driving for another team in Formula 1 next season, but acknowledged there were external factors influencing negotiations.
It had been claimed that Button’s salary demands were proving prohibitive for McLaren, who are anticipating a fall in revenues after a horrible campaign so far this year.
“If I am racing in Formula 1 next year and in the future I want to be with McLaren,” Button said. “It’s a team I’ve spent so many years with, gone through some great times and bad times as well.”
He added: “I can’t give you too many details but away from who’s decision it is, obviously you have to look at where you are in your life.”
Button has won 15 of his 278 races in Formula 1 since being picked by Williams for a race seat when he was just 19 years old.
Unless there is a surprising u-turn, he is now expected to pursue a second career in sportscar racing, while expanding his media commitments.
Kevin Magnussen, Button’s team-mate last season, is believed to be the favourite to replace the veteran. Stoffel Vandoorne is another contender.