Winning fifteen grands prix in a career spanning eighteen seasons, Jenson Button ended his glittering Formula 1 saga finishing a lacklustre fifteenth in his final full season with the McLaren F1 Team. However, the Brit has since revealed he came perilously close to signing for Scuderia Ferrari just a few years earlier- possibly changing the course of history.
The ex-World Champion said that he and the prancing horse were in deep contractual negotiations in 2012 ready for the upcoming 2013 season, with Button poised to replace a struggling Felipe Massa at the legendary Italian marque.
A hardened veteran and race-winner, Jenson seemed to be a no-brainer to partner Fernando Alonso at Ferrari to help them further challenge Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel for the title.
Sadly for Button, though, the deal fell through as Ferrari eventually opted to retain Massa for an extra year. Once the season was over, they welcomed Kimi Räikkönen back to the team in 2014- rendering Jenson out of the equation for good.
Button chose to stay at McLaren for another four full seasons before leaving the grid for good in 2017 after a short-lived return in Monaco.
“Contracts were pretty much ready to go,” Jenson told Motorsport News. “Every driver would love to race for Ferrari at some point, I had a good possibility eight years ago but it just didn’t materialise at the end.
“It almost happened, but for many different reasons it didn’t and, to be fair, I was probably better off where I was anyway at McLaren. There’s just something about that team, even [last] year it’s tough for them and tough for motorsport fans to see them where they are, but maybe they needed this to come back stronger.
“I would love to have raced for Ferrari”
Räikkönen– who pipped Button to the post in red- stayed on with the Maranello squad for five seasons before retiring to backmarkers Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, whilst Alonso went on to race for the Scuderia until his move to McLaren in 2015, where he stayed until his departure from the sport in 2018.
However, the Spaniard is now set to partner Esteban Ocon at the Alpine F1 Team for the 2021 season in a shock return to the sport with the hopes of making a return to the podium.
When questioned by PlanetF1 about Alonso’s return, Button said:
“I think it’s great. He’s a real personality and I think he has probably learned to be a little bit more humble over the last few years.
“I think you will see a really strong and well-mannered Fernando Alonso. It’s really good for the sport, really good for him and he seems to be working really hard on fitness, which is great.
“He’s going to need to be as he’s not a young spring chicken anymore!”