Jenson Button slipped out of F1 at the end of 2016 as he got the short end of the stick in McLaren’s “innovative three-driver strategy” and although he could theoretically return with McLaren in 2018, everyone has pretty much accepted that he’s retired.
His role as reserve driver resulted in a one-off return at Monaco as Fernando Alonso went off to drive in a race he actually had a chance of winning, but recently Button has revealed that he could have carried on being an F1 driver full-time in 2017.
In an interview with CNN he’s revealed that he could have driven for Williams this year as a replacement for the Mercedes-bound Valtteri Bottas.
“I’ve almost rejoined Williams three or four times! I spoke to Williams about racing this year a couple of times. I spoke to them last year and I spoke to them this year as well, but for me it was time.”
Button started his F1 career with the Williams team in 2000 and in the middle part of the decade went through messy negotiations with the team as he signed to drive for them again, but ended up staying with BAR after a contract dispute.
Despite only driving for the team for one season Button also said he had fond memories of the team, which is celebrating forty years in the sport this season.
“Starting my career with Williams was very special, especially with Frank and with Patrick running the team. They will always have their place in Formula 1, and the great thing about Williams is it’s not a manufacturer – it’s a team that goes racing because it’s so passionate about racing. They’re a team that will always be here, whereas manufacturers come and go.”
The rumours of Button going to Williams seemed to keep cropping up during the last few years of his career so this news perhaps isn’t the biggest surprise of all time. But considering how happy to retire he seemed at the end of 2016, it’s amazing he even thought about it at all!